When Will Social Distancing End at Disney Parks?

in Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World

social distancing

Credit: Disney

Social distancing has been implemented at the Disney Parks ever since they reopened, and it continues to be in place as the parks continue to operate through the ongoing pandemic.

Now, a new study from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and the University of Central Florida suggests social distancing could be reduced to three feet instead of six feet within the theme park industry, as long as face masks are worn. How might this affect the Disney Parks?

Related: Biden Administration May Relax Mask Guidance, Will Disney?

social distancing
Credit: Inside the Magic Kelly C.

Social Distancing at Disney World and Disneyland

First, let’s take a look at what the Disney Parks in the United States are currently doing when it comes to physical distancing.

Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort have implemented social distancing protocols within the theme parks and at their shopping and dining districts (Disney Springs at Disney World and Downtown Disney at Disneyland). Face masks are also required for all Disney Guests two years old and up.

Related: How to Avoid Crowds at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

downtown disney reopening
Credit: Disney

The official Disney World website states:

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.

monorail social distancing
Credit: ITM Reporter

Related: How to Avoid Crowds at Magic Kingdom in Disney World

The official Disneyland website states a similar message:

Temporary adjustments will be in place to help with physical distancing.

While theme park capacity has been reduced to help with physical distancing, additional measures may include:

Signage and Ground Markings: Please follow directional signage and ground markings, which have been installed throughout Disneyland 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 attractions. Barriers may also be visible, for example, in areas around cash registers or at Guest Relations.

Party Size: Guest party size will be limited to not more than three households.

Parking: Cashless payment is recommended at the auto plazas. Cars will be directed to park in every other parking space.

Training: Cast Members are trained to engage with Guests and promote physical distancing guidelines in common areas and queues.

partners statue at disneyland resort
Credit: D23

A new study from IAAPA

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and the University of Central Florida have just released a new study that states three feet of physical distancing with face coverings actually provides less risk than six feet of physical distancing without masks:

The human research study of particulate propagation distance from the human respiratory events highlight, with confidence, that three feet of physical distancing with face coverings provides less risk than six feet of physical distancing without masks.

The results of the study show that those who are wearing face masks and are standing three feet apart are less likely to spread COVID-19 than those who are standing six feet apart without wearing face masks. The study was conducted with COVID-19 protocols in mind. At Disney Parks, masks are still required even as social distancing is in place, but what could the implications of this study — and the latest guidance from the CDC — mean for theme park operations in the near future?

Related: How to Avoid Crowds at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios

Disneyland
Credit: Disney

What could this mean for Disney Parks?

The study indicates that theme parks like Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida could reduce social distancing measures to three feet as long as all Guests were still wearing appropriate face coverings. Still, this doesn’t mean that either Disney World or Disneyland will change their current social distancing rules.

However, during The Walt Disney Company’s First Quarter 2021 Financial Results Conference Call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek touched on what safety protocols could look like in the future, including social distancing. In fact, Chapek weighed in on exactly how long he expects health and safety measures like face mask requirements and social distancing to be in place. He shared:

“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.”

social distancing
Credit: Disney

Related: Some Disney World Attractions No Longer Social Distancing

Even though Chapek expressed that he does not think the same six-foot social distancing measures will be the same come 2022, Disney Parks have not announced or indicated they will be shortening or even eliminating the physical distancing anytime soon. Still, as COVID-19 vaccines continue to be distributed throughout the U.S., as virus transmission rates decrease, and as both the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the President Biden administration provide updates to their guidance, perhaps we will see changes come to Disney Parks when it comes to their pandemic-era health and safety protocol.

Inside the Magic will continue to update you as we get information from the Disney Parks regarding social distancing and other health and safety measures. Until then, be sure to check with the official Disney World and Disneyland websites for the most up-to-date information surrounding the phased reopening of the theme parks.

social distancing
Credit: Disney

Related: A Guide to Social Distancing at Walt Disney World

You can find up-to-date information on COVID-19 and safety protocols on the official website for the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Do you want to see Disney relax the social distancing rules or do you like it the way it is? Let us know in the comments below.

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