Updating park maps at Disney World is something we often see happen on a seasonal basis in order to provide updates and showcase the most accurate information at the theme parks. The cover of a park map may often change to signify a new land or attraction at the park, considering that is what Guests look forward to experiencing on their Disney vacation. In 2021, it seems that Disney maps are showcasing a reality that is not going away in the immediate future: the requirement of face masks.
The Animal Kingdom park map at Walt Disney World was recently updated, removing Finding Nemo: The Musical and Festival of the Lion King. The show buildings are still in place; however, the shows themselves are no longer listed. This follows in the wake of the massive entertainment layoffs that were a small part of the tens of thousands of Cast Members who lost their jobs in 2020 due to the pandemic. Although the removal of two shows seems like a big enough change to need a park map update for the safari-filled theme park, the cover also received an update.
YouTuber PCDevv showcased the new Animal Kingdom map where we can see what looks to be a father and son with classic Mickey Mouse hands, and both Guests are wearing face coverings.
Masks are currently mandatory on all of Disney property and must be worn at all times unless you are eating or drinking in specifically designated areas. This includes all of the Disney World theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — as well as Disney Springs. Cast Members have been working diligently to ensure the face-covering rule is enforced, and if Guests do not comply, they will be removed from the property. This has been an active rule since the parks reopened in July due to the ongoing pandemic, and it is now suggested that Disney may intend to keep mask-wearing in the parks around for the foreseeable future (at least, the company has not stated when masks will no longer be required).
As Disney will keep their maps around for months, deciding that a masked family is going to be the feature image of a park is a decision that would need to survive longevity. Although Disney has yet to comment on how long Guests will be required to wear masks, considering that the pandemic has yet to significantly improve in the United States, and the full distribution and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is likely going to take a while, it is not surprising that Disney is promoting mask-wearing in these seasonal masks, as it’s promoted everywhere else.
We have also reported that Dr. Raul Pino, the health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, said, “For the rest of the year? Yes…Until maybe the spring, or until we have a vaccine,” in regards to how long masks will be required for residents of Orange County. This is not from Disney specifically, however, Disney World’s behavior towards the proper face covering has been in line with what is the safest option for Guests.
Previously, it seemed Disney was working to create new park map photos, but have them work for the pandemic and afterward by not showing Guests faces. Disney’s Hollywood Studios recently updated their park map with what looks to be the backside of what appeared to be an LGBT+ couple hand-in-hand heading into Mickey & Minnies Runaway Railway — which was a genius idea when it came to showing Guests in the park without showing their faces (and, therefore, their masks). By doing this, Disney was able to not only update their park maps in a way that did not promote maskless behavior but by shooting from behind, this photo will still be relevant and usable long after masks are one day a thing of the past, considering faces are not visible.
That being said, it is important that Disney World is showcasing a park map where Guests are wearing masks, as this only promotes the health and safety standard that the parks are currently enforcing, setting the proper example. These promotional photos, therefore, reflect the rules set out by the company and influences Guest behavior — as many others have this past year. Images of Guests wearing masks are all over the front page of the Walt Disney World website, so the updates to the park maps are consistent with the company’s current policies.
Do you think that masks are going to be around at Disney World for all of 2021? Does having to wear a mask at Disney World affect your booking your next stay? Let us know your thoughts!