From social distancing measures to increased hand sanitizing stations, the theme parks in both Florida and California are taking precautions to ensure they are operating as safely as possible during this unprecedented time. One of the biggest changes that has Guests continuously talking is the requirement to wear a face covering while at the theme parks.
Now, new CDC guidelines regarding the use of face masks have been released — but will this affect theme parks? Here is everything we know so far.
New CDC Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just released new guidelines that ease indoor mask-wearing for fully vaccinated people. The guidance also indicates that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks outdoors in crowds.
Per AP News:
…the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday will ease indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to safely stop wearing masks inside in most places, according to a person briefed on the announcement.
The new guidance will still call for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but could ease restrictions for reopening workplaces, schools, and other venues — even removing the need for masks or social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
The CDC will also no longer recommend that fully vaccinated people wear masks outdoors in crowds.
The official CDC website has also been updated to reflect the latest recommendations:
If you’ve been fully vaccinated:
- You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic.
- You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
What does this mean for the theme parks?
Though the CDC has released these new guidelines, it is important to note that at the time of publication, this does not have any effect on theme parks in either Florida or California. Both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort have previously stated that face masks are required for all Guests ages 2 and older, even for those who are fully vaccinated. At this time, none of the theme parks have stated that vaccines will be required to visit, and they are not checking whether people have received the COVID-19 vaccine before entering the parks.
Therefore, without requiring proof of vaccination from theme park Guests, it seems that for now, the theme parks will not adjust their mask guidance since the CDC recommendations only ease on mask-wearing for those who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. However, this is subject to change, as the theme parks in California and Florida have been operating based on guidance from the CDC, local health authorities, and what is allowed in each state.
Though it is important to note that during The Walt Disney Company’s Q2 earnings call, CEO Bob Chapek said the new guidelines is “very big news” for Disney Parks and recognized that wearing a mask during the summer months in Florida is not easy. You can read more about that here.
The Disney and Universal theme parks have both been closely following what the CDC recommends when it comes to the ongoing pandemic. For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as previously stated that the theme parks can open up to full capacity, however, both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando decided to stay in line with the CDC and not increase capacity. The last update from the theme parks stated that they are currently operating at 35% capacity.
Additionally, both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando in Florida have decided to eliminate temperature checks as well as reduce social distancing from six feet to three feet.
Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood in California are currently still operating with six feet of social distancing and temperature checks prior to entry.
Official face mask rules at the theme parks
If you are planning to visit one of the theme parks, you should be aware of the current face mask rules.
Walt Disney World’s face mask policy states:
Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members, including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming. You may temporarily remove your face covering while actively eating, drinking or taking an outdoor photo, but you must be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing during this time.
All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:
- Be made with at least 2 layers of breathable material
- Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the Guest to remain hands-free
At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings.
Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.
Face coverings may have an integrated transparent plastic panel to aid in viewing the wearer’s mouth.
- These face coverings must:
Be a fabric face covering featuring a solid plastic panel containing no openings that is attached to the fabric on all sides using tight knit stitching
- Meet all face covering requirements listed above
The use of face coverings is not a substitute for physical distancing.
Note that the Disneyland Resort face mask policy is very similar, although it does not allow for face masks to be removed for outdoor photos. At Disneyland, masks must be worn at all times except while actively eating or drinking. Again, the mask policy applies to all Guests whether or not they are vaccinated.
Guests are required to wear face coverings when visiting Universal Orlando Resort, including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Face coverings are available for purchase online, as well as at select merchandise locations in City Walk and the theme parks.
Guests must wear face coverings at all times, except for:
- Children under the age of three
- When actively eating or drinking while stationary
- When at a designated U-Rest face covering removal area
Note: social distancing guidelines still apply in all cases.
Inside the Magic will update you as we get information from the theme parks regarding face mask policies.
Do you want to see the theme parks ease up on face mask guidelines? Let us know in the comments below.