ORLANDO, Fla. – When the Magic Kingdom opened its doors in Central Florida, the weather was as magical as the first stroll down Main Street.
On October 1st, 1971, the sun was shining bright on the big castle with a few white puffy clouds to set the stage for the fairytale experience over 10,000 people got to experience.
It was also warm. High temperatures that day reached 93, 5 degrees above the norm. There was no rain on any parade, only confetti falling from the sky in celebration of the grand opening.
Fifty years later, thousands of visitors are expected to flood the park once again.
For patrons who were there the very first day the park opened, it may feel familiar despite all the changes made over the years. The forecast for this Friday has plenty of sunshine, with highs expected to reach 90 degrees, staying only 2 degrees above average for this time of year. The rain outlook looks slim, even through the weekend.
While trips to Disney over the years have had a lot of great weather, this magical place has gone through it’s fair share of inclement weather. Daily thunderstorms in the summer often delay parades for safety reasons, including abundant lightning or torrential downpours. Despite the severe thunderstorms, the park remains open, however, there have been a few times Mother Nature has forced the park to keep the gates closed.
Hurricane Floyd in 1999 resulted in the park shutting down for one full day. In fact, on September 14, the parks closed early and were to remain closed through the 15th. Late in the afternoon on the 15th, Animal Kingdom reopened when the storm’s path changed.
In 2004, Mickey and the crew ended up with three days off when hurricanes Charley and Frances battered Central Florida in August and September. It wasn’t until October 2016 when Hurricane Michael threatened Central Florida that the parks closed early on October 6tand then reopened on the 8th.
Who could forget Hurricane Irma in 2017? The storm came walloping through, flooding streets, taking down trees, and leaving thousands without power during the second weekend of that September.
Disney took all precautions for its cast members and visitors, closing slightly early on the 9th and reopening on the 12th.
There are only two other times Disney parks closed its gates, but those were not weather-related. The first was on September 11, shortly after the attacks on the twin towers in New York. Security was much tighter when the gates reopened the next day.
The second was during the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, the gates stayed closed for nearly four months.