Guest Claims Disney Discriminates Against Autism Due to Mask Mandates

in Walt Disney World

Cast Member Mask

Credit: Disney

Navigating how to keep a massive theme park such as Walt Disney World open during the pandemic has been quite a whirlwind for the company and continues to be an evolving situation. As new variants of COVID-19 such as Omicron continue to dominate and cases rise, Disney has tried to adapt to these new living conditions with added health and safety measures. That being said, it has been interesting to see how the company has been able to create a safe environment while still managing to have a normal theme park experience.

Cast Member Mask
Credit: Disney

Cast Members during this time have been fantastic. Working through the pandemic and putting themselves at risk constantly to ensure that Guests are still able to experience the magic is something that many have deeply appreciated. That being said, it seems that some Guests are still not being so kind to Cast Members around them due to their own frustrations.

Reddit user u/Purple_Quail_4193 posted a thread on the Walt Disney World subreddit asking Guests to be more kind to Cast Members. In their message, they noted multiple instances they have recently experienced in which they witnessed Guests being unkind to Cast Members. Although all of the points share unfortunate behavior, the final fourth point seems to have been a severe accusation.

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Below is the full post:

I’m in the car right now hoping to kill time while my family member is at an appointment: but I wanted to share this instead of giving my review of Genie+ and my experience intentionally not getting a figment popcorn bucket

So for the past couple months I’ve read the complaints on how cast members were “mean, snippy, rude” etc. and it broke my heart as I have friends who are cast members and them telling me the war stories they got over the pandemic broke me how other guests treated them. And seeing how much disrespect I’ve seen towards the cast members I went from “I’m sad that they’re war torn” to “geez I wonder why with what I saw.” This is four things I saw:

At universal I was in row with a family with someone who was more than likely not 40 inches for the Simpsons ride. They were doing cartwheels in the seat and the team member is trying to tell them “they have to be seated or else they can’t ride.” I’ve seen so much disregard for safety, granted they obliged but I’ve seen a lot of sneaking around the height requirement this time that it made me think. This was also my day one

We got stuck on the Millennium Falcon and had to be evacuated. Noticing behind the scenes I asked if I could take pictures (not to post, it was for my own collection!) and I was told later we couldn’t. I understood. One person tried fighting with the cast member that because he was stuck on the ride he has the rights to record backstage, screaming at this cast member

disney world face mask
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

A child standing on the lap of someone riding the ecv and driving it. The cast member noticed and tried getting them to get off for safety reasons and they ignored her. She had to call for backup

This one boils my blood the most: I was just about to board Star tours and the cast member reminded the family in front of me masks on at all times indoors. The mom starts screaming at the cast member “my sons autistic!! He can’t wear the mask!!” Cast member reminded her of the policy and she storms off screaming “this lady is discriminating against me!!! Disney discriminated against autistic people!!! I’m telling the news!!!” I went to go tell the cast member she did nothing wrong. I’m autistic as well so I let her know it’s just amazing what people would do to get a raise out of them. She later came back with her son, with a mask discussing “when she’s not looking well take it off” and when she was doing the seatbelt check she told her to put her purse over the seatbelt and then screamed at her “Disney’s discriminating against me!” Now the ethics between autism and masks is debatable as I can do it and every autistic person is different, but don’t make drama to the cast member.

So I’m all asking is: they’re going through so much right now, PLEASE treat them with respect!! You don’t want them to be snappy? Treat them nice

Still here but posting this now to kill time: PLEASE treat the cast members with respect. The amount of people I’ve seen treat them like garbage is heartbreaking from WaltDisneyWorld

It should be noted that all Guests over the age of two years old must wear a face-covering in an indoor location. Walt Disney World is located on private property, which allows them to create their own rules and regulations that Guests must follow while in the Parks. Failure to comply could leave said Guests removed from the Park.

young girl wearing minnie mouse mask downtown disney
Credit: Disney

In case you were unaware of the current face-covering rules at Walt Disney World, please check it out below! 

Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) in all indoor locations, regardless of vaccination status. This includes upon entering and throughout all indoor attractions and indoor queues and in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, regardless of vaccination status. Face coverings are optional for Guests in outdoor areas.

All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) should:

  • 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 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 should:

  • 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

disney world guests
Credit: Disney

Disposable masks can be purchased in the Parks for $1.50, and if you are with someone who does not want to wear a mask or is unable to for any reason, there are plenty of outdoor activities that Guests can enjoy around Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

In the thread, the user notes that the parent told the child to remove the mask when Cast Members were not looking. Please note that once the ride begins, Cast Members are still able to see you with cameras along the attraction. We have noted how Cast Members have stopped attractions such as Carousel of Progress and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train due to Guests removing their mask, so will likely be caught if not following the rules.

face mask removal sign
Credit: Inside the Magic

Cast Members also do not have the power to change the rules and regulations set out by the Walt Disney Company and must only enforce them, so remember, getting upset at a Cast Member about a rule will likely just collect a lot of negative attention and result in no change.

Do you have any issues complying with Disney’s mask mandates?

Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district!


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