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Why we chose to evacuate Hurricane Irma to Disney : Part 1

Saturday, September 16, 2017 10:22:55 AM America/New_York

Hurricane Irma is on record for being one of the worst storms in history. No one really knew what to expect with her and she proved to be very unpredictable.

When Irma decided to plow up the east coast of Florida where we live. Days before, Disney made the decision to close for the two days that Irma was set to hit here as a possible Cat 4 or 5 and yet still be ready to open Tuesday. So that's where we decided to go to ride out the storm after our area was declared an emergency, mandatory evacuation zone. I called Disney roughly 4pm on Saturday, just an hour before our curfew and told them we we late evacuees. We were given a booking number and told to drive on over quickly but safely and they will find a place for us.

We were instructed to go to the Disney's Pop Century Resort. Upon arrival, it was hectic yet smooth. There were people just showing up without reservations just to get out of the storms path. The staff kept everyone calm and somehow smiling. Doc McStuffins and Woody were both in the lobby coloring with kids and my daughter's favorite Toy Story character, The Little Green Army Man, was keeping guard. At some point, Jake from the the Neverland Pirates and Doc were helping at the front desk too. It was pretty cute and a great distraction.

It was now almost 8pm after check in was done and we were told everything would be shut down at midnight and may possibly not reopen for 2 days so to get all the food we need in the room now. The resort had sandwiches and other food you could buy HOWEVER due to the large amount of guests that suddenly poured in, they had to give us a scheduled time to come back to get food so not everyone was in there at once. I panicked. My husband jumped in the truck and went searching for open stores even though it was past county curfew and I did what I know... grabbed my daughter and jumped on a Disney bus for the Magic Kingdom to look for food. The park was almost empty. It was super cool and kind of weird at the same time.

I knew all the good snack places but my mind was drawing a blank on "real food" that we can keep without a fridge or use of a microwave. I saw two park cast members, told them the situation and asked if they had any suggestions. We were told to follow them... My daughter and I were brought into Pinocchios restaurant which was closed. A manager came out and was told our situation by one of the cast members. Both left for a brief moment and came back with 2 bags worth of the PBJ Smuckers sandwiches they sell at the park, snacks galore, drinks, desserts and hugs!! (Side note, yes I took their names so I can make sure they are properly thanked and given recognition by the park).

They don't just say have a magical day... they do what they can to make it happen. It should be pretty clear by now why Disney is our family's evacuation plan but there is one more very important reason... if we were to come home and find our home destroyed or damaged... if my daughter's life was about to be unexpectedly shifted, I wanted to make sure she had a magical memory leading up to it.

To be continued...

Posted By Lauren Sarnoff

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