With COVID-19 vaccines beginning to roll out across the world, many Disney fans may be wondering how theme park pandemic protocol may be affected — and when we can expect the parks to “return to normal.” Right now, with social distancing, mask requirements, and more health and safety protocols in place, visiting any Disney Park that is currently open is a whole new experience compared to before the parks closed amid the pandemic.
During The Walt Disney Company’s First Quarter 2021 Financial Results Conference Call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek touched on just that. He weighed in on how long he expects health and safety measures like face mask requirements and social distancing to be in place — including what the theme park safety protocol will look like in 2022.
“I will tell you what our expectations are in terms of the state of the world by then. We have no doubt, and when we reopen up in parks that were closed, or increase the capacity, that we’ll have some level of social distancing and mask-wearing for the remainder of this year.
That’s our expectation. But, I believe that Dr. Fauci said earlier today that he hopes that there is vaccines for everyone who wants them by April this year. If that happens, that is a game-changer
And that could accelerate our expectations, and give people the confidence that they need to come back to the parks. Will there be overlap until we know that we have herd immunity? Sure there will. But do we believe we’ll be in the same state of 6 foot social distance and mask wearing in ’22? Absolutely not.”
It seems that the return to “normal” at Disney Parks will be slow and steady. That being said, CEO Bob Chapek appears to be quite confident that the current state of the parks will not last until 2022. At the moment, we do not know what it will mean to not have the same “state” of social distancing and masks, but it seems Disney does anticipate relaxing some of their rules and regulations as more Guests are vaccinated and the state of the world improves. Keep in mind, however, that the company has not announced exactly when the current health and safety protocols will lessen and therefore all of the current rules must still be followed.
At the moment, Disney has strict mask rules in place at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. All masks must fit the proper face-covering specs (no neck gators or valves on masks), and Guests’ nose and mouth must be covered at all times. Most recently, masks with a clear section were approved by Disney so that Guest lips could be seen.
When on Disney property — including the Disney Parks, Disney Springs, and Downtown Disney — Guests must have their face masks on at all times unless stationary in a designated food and drink section, in a Disney Resort pool, or, in the comfort of your Disney Resort hotel room. Failure to comply with these rules and regulations will result in the removal of the Guest in question from the park.
Disney has already proven to stop attractions mid-ride to ensure Guests are complying with the rules, and they have continued sharing contact audio reminders, filling parks with signage, and having Cast Members actively patrol the parks.
At the moment, Disneyland Resort in Southern California remains closed (except for Downtown Disney, and by extension Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure), as well as Hong Kong Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. Walt Disney World Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, and Shanghai Disney Resort remain open with limited capacity.
To view the current health and safety measures in place at Walt Disney World Resort, click here.
How do you feel about social distancing and wearing masks when at Disney World?