Walt Disney World is in the path of Hurricane Irma, so you might be wondering if the resort’s centerpiece – the Cinderella Castle – can withstand hurricane-force winds. The castle, built over 45 years ago, was built to withstand hurricane force winds. So if everything goes according to plan, the Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom should withstand Hurricane Irma. Disney has will close Magic Kingdom and the other parks early on Saturday night and they will remain closed through Monday.
One of several myths about Disney World is that Cinderella Castle can be dismantled before a hurricane hits. As Disney Lists notes, this is not true. Spires on the castle can be removed, although it takes days to do so and that would be pointless if a hurricane was quickly approaching. So, Disney imagineers built the castle to withstand winds of at least 110 mph. They used a 600-ton steel frame and 10-inch concrete walls. Other sources say it can withstand winds of up to 125 mph.
The 8:00 a.m. ET Friday forecast from the National Hurricane Center and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that Irma will reach Central Florida by Monday morning. The public advisory reports that Irma is a categoery 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 150 mph. A hurricane warning is in effect for most of South Florida and the Keys.
The Weather Channel forecasts that Irma will be a Category 2 hurricane by the time it reaches Central Florida, with winds at 105 mph. Category 2 hurricanes have wind speeds between 96 mph and 110 mph. Again, the Cinderella Castle was built to withstand that kind of wind.
Disney has closed the parks for Sunday or Monday. The Blizzard Beach water park is closed for Friday and Saturday. The Night of Joy event at ESPN Wide World of Sports on Saturday and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Sunday have been cancelled.
There is precedent for Disney closing because of hurricanes. Last year, the parks were closed for a day in October because of Hurricane Matthew. The parks were closed twice in September 2004 for Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. It was also closed for a day in September 1999 for Hurricane Floyd.