Just a few days ago, we reported on a new study suggesting social distancing could be reduced to three feet instead of six feet within the theme park industry, as long as face masks are worn.
Now, Orange County has announced that “all settings” are allowed to move forward with reducing the social distancing from six feet to three feet — including theme parks.
Social Distancing at Theme Parks
Social distancing has been implemented at the theme parks in Orlando, Florida ever since they reopened, and it continues to be in place as the parks continue to operate through the ongoing pandemic. The social distancing measures within Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando include staying six feet apart from other parties while in queue lines, sitting down at quick-service restaurants, while in line at a merchandise shop, and more.
Now, Disney World and Universal Orlando could reduce the six feet social distancing to three feet, per approval from Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Orange County Reduces Social Distancing Measures
This morning, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings held a press conference in which he shared updates regarding the coronavirus within Orange County, Florida.
Demings stated that social distancing will now be allowed to reduce from six feet to three feet in “all settings”, effective immediately.
Scott Gustin shared the news on Twitter, expressing that Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings has been communicating with the theme parks:
Demings confirmed the county HAS been communicating with theme parks: “I believe the adjustments they will make will be based on keeping guests safe. As they manage the lines for those outdoor settings… and even indoor, they’re able to increase capacity as a result of that.”
Demings confirmed the county HAS been communicating with theme parks:
"I believe the adjustments they will make will be based on keeping guests safe. As they manage the lines for those outdoor settings… and even indoor, they're able to increase capacity as a result of that."
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) April 28, 2021
At this time, Walt Disney World Resort nor Universal Orlando have released statements regarding social distancing or increased capacity at the theme parks.
The official Disney World website states the following when it comes to social distancing at the theme parks:
Temporary adjustments are in place to promote physical distancing.
Physical distancing measures may include:
Signage and Ground Markings: Please follow directional signage and ground markings, which have been installed throughout Walt Disney World Resort to help Guests better navigate common areas while practicing physical distancing.
Physical Barriers: Physical barriers have been added in select places to help promote proper separation between people, including in queues and on transportation and attractions. Barriers may also be visible, for example, in areas around cash registers or at Guest Relations.
Party Size: Guests traveling in parties of more than 10 are asked to split into smaller groups in queues, dining locations and other areas around our parks and resorts to better allow for physical distancing.
Parking: Cashless payment is recommended at the auto plazas. Cars will be directed to park in every other parking space at the theme parks.
Training: Cast Members are trained to engage with Guests and promote physical distancing guidelines in common areas and queues.
Universal Orlando’s website states:
Social distancing at all locations through the parks, to include attractions, shows, restaurants and merchandise locations.
We are implementing social distancing procedures within our attractions. We are limiting the number of guests allowed in the queue, and there is social distancing signage throughout. Please note that some queue experiences may be slightly altered as we implement our new procedures, and wait times may be longer than usual.
The health and safety of our guests and team members will always be our top priority. To ensure proper social distancing, we are implementing new procedures in our indoor theaters, including appropriate spacing between travel parties and assisting our guests with seating and exiting the theater to avoid congestion. These procedures mean that our show capacity will be limited and wait times may be longer than usual to experience the show. We are also increasing our already-aggressive cleaning procedures and will be sanitizing high-touch surfaces between each show. All guests are also required to wear a face covering while experiencing all indoor and outdoor shows.
You can watch the press conference here:
Again, it is important to note that just because Orange County is now allowing “all settings” to reduce social distancing from three feet to six feet does not mean Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando will follow. Both theme parks have implemented their own safety measures throughout the pandemic, however, when it comes to social distancing in the future, Disney CEO Bob Chapek touched on what he thinks safety protocols could look like come 2022, stating:
“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.”
Inside the Magic will continue to update you as we get information surrounding social distancing and capacity at both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.
Are you happy to see Orange County reduce the social distancing requirement? Let us know in the comments below.