First Walt Disney World, and, now, it seems Orlando International Airport.
With its four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), Resort Hotels, water parks, and Disney Springs, the Walt Disney World Resort creates magic for millions of Guests each year. So, it’s no wonder then that Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the 7th busiest airport in the world.
But with crowds flocking back to airports and post-pandemic travel returning slowly to normal, mask mandates are fast becoming a thing of the past – well, in Florida at least.
For many Guests arriving at the popular Orlando Airport, MCO marks the first step of a magical Disney vacation. The gateway to the Sunshine State features its own Disney Store, and until recently, the complimentary Disney Magical Express service that used to take Disney Resort Guests from Orlando International Airport to their Disney Resort Hotel.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed so many things for Disney fans at Walt Disney World, including the removal of the Magical Express service. From social distancing and quarantining to face masks and travel policies, health and safety regulations altered our Disney Park, Resort, and travel experience. Back in March, Disney Parks removed the indoor locations face mask rule at Disney’s theme parks. Disney’s California Adventure, Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom all saw a sense of normalcy return with face masks optional for vaccinated Guests.
Now, after a ruling by a federal judge against a government policy, Orlando International Aiport has controversially removed its own face mask mandate after over two years of mask requirements.
A federal judge on Monday, April 18, voided the national mask mandate on airplanes and public transport, freeing airlines and mass transit services to make their own decisions regarding mask requirements for COVID-19.
And as of today, April 19, masks and face coverings are now optional at Orlando International Airport (MCO). The busy airport, and Disney World’s main domestic and international travel hub, shared the news on its official Twitter account:
Face Mask Update: TSA will no longer enforce Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. Face masks are now optional in our airport and facilities. Details: bit.ly/3JT5qqn
Face Mask Update: TSA will no longer enforce Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. Face masks are now optional in our airport and facilities.
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) April 19, 2022
The decision to void the national mask mandate came from U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, who cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s failure to justify its mask mandate extension. The federal court ruling means that The White House mask order “is not in effect at this time.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) revealed that it will “no longer enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs. The CDC and President Joe Biden, however, are still recommending wearing a mask on public transit, especially for Guests who are not vaccinated.
American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all announced masks are now not required for employees or passengers on board their aircraft, with some airlines revealing mid-flight that Guests could remove their masks. This started controversy for many vulnerable passengers with medical conditions who rely on the face-covering mandate for safe travel.
The COVID situation continues to change on a daily basis for those wanting to travel. Tourism is increasing after a quiet two years, with sold-out Park Pass Reservations at the Disney Parks and record-breaking crowds at airports.
As of now, this has not changed Disney’s mask mandate onboard its Monorail service, but we’ll continue to update the situation in Lake Buena Vista as we hear it.
It is now optional for Guests who are fully vaccinated to wear a face mask while boarding the Disney Skyliner. Those who are not fully vaccinated must still wear a correct face covering while aboard this mode of Disney World Resort transportation. Additionally, masks are still required for those boarding a Disney bus or Monorail, despite vaccination status
It was recently revealed that traveling to Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando through Orlando International Airport will be smoother with some impressive updates coming to the Central Florida airport this summer. Orlando Airport is rolling out a new south terminal that is filled with amazing technology and up-to-date travel tools.
Terminal C will feature a total of 15 new gates for MCO passengers and will predominantly be for JetBlue planes. The largely automated new terminal will feature automated TSA screening at the security checkpoint, facial recognition at gates, unique baggage claim, and innovative luggage technology.
For more information on Disney World’s current COVID-19 policies for both unvaccinated and vaccinated Guests, visit the Walt Disney World website here.