What Happens If You Get Stranded at Walt Disney World?

Sometimes things happen, and it feels like nothing goes according to plan — even in the Most Magical Place on Earth. But what happens when you’re running late… really, really late… and find yourself stranded at Walt Disney World?

Oh no! Are you stranded at Disney World?

We’ve tried to imagine every possible scenario of how a person could get stranded at Disney World so we can give you advice on how to get out of these difficult situations.

You Miss Disney Transportation from the Park Back To Your Hotel

Complimentary Disney transportation usually runs up to an hour after the theme parks close, but if you try to ride later than that, you could be stuck. So what can you do? First, see if there’s a Cast Member nearby who can give you some on-the-ground suggestions. If transportation is truly done for the night, you’re going to have to pay for a ride back to the Resort.

What happens if you miss the last bus back to your hotel?

Both Uber and Lyft are available in the area; neither service is free, but that’s about your only option on getting back to your hotel after the last bus, boat, Monorail, or Skyliner runs.

Walt Disney World Transportation Problems You’re Not Thinking About

You Get Stranded at Disney World During a Hurricane

In the summer, hurricanes can cause a lot of problems for guests at Disney World, and sometimes this weather can leave guests stranded at their Resorts. If the storm is forecasted to be powerful with a track through central Florida, the parks will close, and you’ll be stuck at your hotel.

You could get stranded at your hotel during a hurricane.

Disney has dealt with many hurricanes in the past. They will ask you to shelter in place until the hurricane passes; this means you must remain at the Resort for the duration of the storm. In some cases, they may advise guests to remain in their rooms. The Resorts take precautions for this kind of emergency. You will have access to plenty of food (often pre-packed meals that you can take back to your Resort hotel room). The Resorts may also offer a few special activities when it’s safe for guests to leave their rooms but still not safe enough to open the Parks. Think: coloring activities and other lowkey fun.

Hurricane Irma Snacks ©girlmeetsnvrlnd

Disney World will even have certain Cast Members on hand who have volunteered to ride out the storm with you. These Cast Members are well taken care of during the hurricane while they help take good care of guests.

How to Prepare Differently For Hurricane Season at Walt Disney World

If You Get Stranded on the Skyliner

We bring up getting stranded on the Skyliner because it happens more often than you  might think. Technical problems, weather, and other issues could mean you get stuck up in the sky in one of the gondolas. The first rule is this: don’t panic. Disney will do everything it can to get you back to the ground safely as quickly as possible.

You might get stuck on the Skyliner

For prolonged stoppages, you’ll find emergency kits in each gondola. They are stocked with instant ice, emergency drinking water, glow sticks, a notepad, a pencil, and waste bags. Disney can also use an emergency contact number to speak with you in the gondola, if necessary.

You’ll find emergency kits in each gondola.

However, we recommend that you stock up on a few things before you get on the Skyliner. Be sure to have mobile chargers for your phones as well as snacks and a water bottle.

The History and Myths of Disney’s Skyway and How it Led to the Skyliner

As for a Skyliner rescue? Well, unfortunately we’ve already seen how that might be handled. For a rescue over Hourglass Lake near the Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts, there’s a rescue barge.

Disney Skyliner Rescue Barge

For other lines and locations when there’s a need for an evacuation, the Reedy Creek Fire Department can be called to assist. But the most common conclusion to a stoppage on the Skyliner? Disney figures out the problem, and the lines restart.

If You Get Stranded On a Ride

Something that happens relatively often is guests getting stuck on rides, and the first rule of thumb is the same as above: don’t panic. Remember that you should remain seated and wait for a Cast Member to instruct you on what to do next.

Guests getting evacuated from Splash Mountain!

Listen to Cast Members, and do exactly what they say. In the end, getting stranded on a ride might be kind of fun if you have a great view of the park or you end up in a section of the ride that has a lot of fun details (our favorite place getting stuck on a ride is during the Haunted Mansion ballroom scene).

Haunted Mansion Ballroom Scene

You might also get to see some backstage stuff when you’re evacuated from the ride, which is also interesting (though can be a bummer for some guests). Typically these evacuations are calm and orderly, but you can sometimes encounter long waits while Cast Members work their way from ride vehicle to ride vehicle.

Walt Disney World Rides That Are Actually Better at Night

If You Miss Your Flight

First of all, we would recommend doing everything you can NOT to miss your flight home. Make sure to check and double-check all times, and make sure you’ve arranged for reliable transportation to get you to the airport — usually two hours early is recommended for domestic flights, and three hours early is recommended for international flights.

Orlando International Airport

However, if you DO miss your flight due to other reasons, like weather, contact your airline immediately. The airline will work with you to rebook you on the next flight out. But if you miss your flight because of something that’s seen as your fault, your airline may require you to buy a new ticket or pay additional fees…for everyone in your party.

Orlando International Airport

If a flight gets delayed for a day or so (which could happen because of weather), you’ll need to make arrangements with your hotel to stay an additional evening or book a night at a separate hotel. This will probably cost extra, but if you use a travel credit card with certain travel insurance protections OR if you have travel insurance, you may be reimbursed for that cost.

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If You Miss Your Transportation to the Airport

If you miss your transportation to the airport — like a bus or car you’ve hired — give them a call to explore your options. Policies vary from company to company, so your results will vary as well, but have contact information handy just in case you need to reach out to them.

Hollywood Studios rideshare pick-up area

If all else fails, you can call Uber or Lyft for a ride to the airport.

You will have to pay for those services, but this is pretty much your only solution to guarantee that you’ll arrive at the airport on time. Ultimately you’ll want to make sure you know when and where your airport transportation is picking you up, and be ready for it early.

So those are all the situations where you might find yourself stranded at Disney World. We hope you never find yourself stranded (except on an air-conditioned ride, maybe), but if you do, you’ll be ready.

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Have you ever been stranded at Disney World? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments.


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13 Replies to “What Happens If You Get Stranded at Walt Disney World?”

  1. Years ago, it was almost impossible to get stranded at Disney World. Once, my sister and I got to talking with the couple at the table next to us at Bistro de Paris. Eventually, the waiters told us we were the last guests in Epcot and had to leave. They asked where we were staying (we were at Port Orleans) and a bus was waiting at the exit to take us back. I’ve also had several buses take us directly back to our hotel from Boardwalk instead of making us catch the bus from another stop. The guest service at WDW used to be insane!

  2. when I was a young pre-teen, once got stuck when Haunted Mansion doom buggies stopped (Mom with sister in one buggy, Dad was with brother in 2nd, and I was solo in third) I was stopped for some little time directly across from the hall with “things” trying to break down the doors- kinda scary at that age

  3. We get stuck on Haunted Mansion a lot but it’s always at the end! Then “Hurry ba-ack” plays in my head for the rest of the day, lol”

  4. I was almost stranded at MCO airport, had to run like crazy to get on a plane back to New York. Why was I so late? Because I was standing in line forever waiting to get two Jersey Mike’s Subs. It was worth it

  5. Our flight got canceled due to an unexpected storm on the last day of our honeymoon (after our Disney wedding). We could not get another flight for another 2 days and unfortunately, our bags were already sent to the airport that morning. Port Orleans French Quarter staff sent someone to the airport to personally retrieve our luggage (they were able to get my bag but my husbands left on an earlier flight that morning). The hotel manager booked us a room at a steep discount since we had already checked out that morning and added an extra day to our park hopper, and told my husband he could pick out any toiletries he needed from the hotel store. A true example of stellar Disney customer service!

  6. As someone who travels 8-10 times a year by air for work, I see many of the issues highlighted for being late for flights or having them delayed. Keep in mind that all customers are not created equal when it comes to air travel. Airlines will take care of their Frequent Flyers and Business Class passengers first. Then people like me who travel less frequently but are “brand loyal”, then anyone booked through them and finally passengers using 3rd party booking. And just like everything else in life, a little kindness goes a long way. That Gate Agent is not the person who caused the delay, yelling at them will not get you anywhere. With airlines running at capacity with less planes, getting re-booked is not that easy anymore. My rule is to always expect a delay of up to a day and be ready for it. That means all medication is in my carry on as well as anything I might need for an overnight. That money you saved using Travelocity won’t seem like a deal when it takes you up to 2 days to get home because you are at the end of the line for seats or the airline insists you go back to them for help.

  7. I was stranded with my family at the contemporary after dinner at California grill. Trying to get back to the grand Floridian with an ECV and older folks who couldn’t make the walk. the monorail and busses were no longer running. The hotel staff surprisingly was not helpful at all. We ended up standing outside by the busses and a VERY kind off duty bus driver stopped to ask if we were okay and told us to hop on and brought us back to the grand

    1. Call an Uber.
      Pay attention to time.
      Always been a rule at Disney that there transportation stops 1 hour after park closes.

      Take bus to Disney Springs then get the Grand bus back to the Grand.

      Gotta check Disney Springs hours also.

      Gotta know Disney Bud.

      1. Uber and Lyft are not always wheelchair accessible! This is a huge issue for individuals that are unable to use standard transportation. Yes to Minnie vans returning 🤩as they do have accessible vans (even if they are expensive) at least there is an option.