Disney Partially Drops Face Mask Policy
Just a day after Disney CEO Bob Chapek hinted that changes were coming, Disney dramatically changed some of its face mask policies.
These updates only apply to Walt Disney World, not Disneyland, and they’re not total. I’ll walk you through the new park face mask rules now.
Disney Drops Outdoor Face Mask Requirements
Okay, that’s the jaw-dropping headline here. As I mentioned last time, Chapek indicated that he didn’t want people wearing masks this summer.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated outdoor rules this week. They published guidelines that suggest vaccinated people can do whatever.
Based on this information, the Mayor of Orange County, Florida, Jerry Demings, honored his previous statement. Once the county reached an adult vaccination rate of 50 percent, the Mayor removed the outdoor mask policy.
Since Disney no longer faced either CDC-recommended guidelines or local restrictions on outdoor face masks, all the Orlando-area parks could remove their restrictions.
Universal Orlando Resort actually jumped the gun by announcing it would drop outdoor face mask requirements earlier on Friday.
At 11 p.m., Disney updated its online FAQs to reflect that you no longer need to wear a face mask while walking outdoors at Walt Disney World.
The Updated Face Mask Rules at Walt Disney World
That’s the story here, but please be aware that it comes with an asterisk.
Starting on Saturday, May 15th, you can walk around the outdoor areas of the Walt Disney World campus without wearing a mask.
However, you must replace your mask when you enter an attraction line queue, restaurant, or store.
Think of the new mask rules as applying to indoor locations, including rides that take place inside.
At restaurants, Disney expects you to wear your mask unless you’re eating or drinking.
Disney updated its Face Coverings page on the official website.
The two places where you no longer need to wear face coverings are outdoor common areas and pool decks.
You must still wear a mask when you enter a line and keep your face covering in place until you exit the ride and are outdoors again.
Disney has specifically indicated that show-based attractions require face masks, too. Similarly, you must wear your mask on any form of Disney transportation.
The First Day without Masks
Saturday morning proved a confusing time for many. Disney had previously indicated that temperature checks would remain through May 16th.
Without the face mask requirement in place, cast members quietly abandoned the temperature checkpoints a day early.
Across the parks, rules varied about how the new face mask policy works.
As DVC members know, many Disney attractions include outdoor line queues.
So, when Disney says that you don’t need to wear a mask outdoors but must while standing in line, it’s a mixed message.
Cast members did an admirable job in informing people about their policies, which vary by attraction.
Peter Pan’s Flight didn’t require guests to wear their masks until they reached the indoor portion of the line.
Haunted Mansion staff asked guests to put on their masks before entering the line queue.
At Na’Vi River Journey, the face mask policy largely went unenforced.
When asked, Disney employees indicated that the company has worked with the CDC relentlessly and knows which parts of line queues are problematic.
Attractions with such concerns will maintain stricter face covering policies than the rest.
Based on early morning observations, far less than half of the guests continued wearing masks after the rules change.
Combining this change with the reduction in social distancing from six to three feet, the parks have undergone a dramatic shift this week.
My Disney Experience also added an alert to notify guests about the change. Some weren’t aware when they arrived at the park. Here’s the message:
— On the Go in MCO (@onthegoinmco) May 15, 2021
Summarizing: While the parks haven’t entirely abandoned face masks, you won’t wear them nearly as much during your next park visit…unless you want.