The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for over a year now, and there are many new normals that we’ve had to get used to. Face coverings have been around for a while now. When Disney Springs reopened last May and then the theme parks in July they were required in all public areas of Walt Disney World unless you were actively eating or drinking while stationary. The only other exception was when near the water, since masks won’t work if wet. Recently the CDC updated its recommendations, so here are the updated guidelines and rules about masks and face coverings at Walt Disney World. There have been a couple of other changes as well.
We have gone over this before but here is a little refresher. Whether your face covering is disposable or reusable it must be made of two layers of breathable fabric. It must fully cover your nose, mouth and be secure under your chin. It also must have either ear loops or ties. Neck gaiters or masks with valves are still not permitted.
In May, 2021 Disney changed the rules. You are no longer required to have a face covering in most areas if you are outdoors. If you are in line for an attraction the rules state you are required to wear a face covering, even if that line is outdoors. You are still required to wear a face covering at all times indoors. The new rule does make it nice to have a little breather in between when jumping from attraction to attraction, especially since we are hitting the hot summer months in Central Florida.
I’ve been to the theme parks several times since the rule was updated. I have noticed that probably 20 percent of the guests were still wearing their face coverings outdoors. If you choose to continue to wear one that is totally fine. It is whatever you feel comfortable with.
I did notice cast members having to ask people to put on their masks while getting in line for a ride, so please be kind and considerate to all those who are working. They are doing their job. Being polite is easy and helps make their day go more smoothly. I did notice that in several queues that were outdoors that the cast members were not asking for guests to wear their masks the entire time. It depended on the ride and how long the line was. You need to wear it for the ride, even if the ride is outdoors.
Masks are still required indoors for all guests who are two years old and older. This includes in stores and at restaurants until you are seated. I saw countless people try to enter stores without their masks on. Keep yours handy if you go, so that no one will need to remind you. Disney is not making exceptions in indoor areas for people who “forgot” their masks.
Also, social distancing guidelines have been reduced from six feet to three, according to the CDC. I did not notice a change in markers so it looks like Walt Disney World for the time being is still sticking with six feet. Disney has announced that they will change the distance, but we don’t know when.
There are two other changes that I noticed at Walt Disney World. It looks like they have done away with staggered parking in the parking lots. This hasn’t been announced, but I parked at more than one park and there was no staggering.
The final change that I noticed was that there is no more temperature check. This was announced a couple of weeks ago. The tents for it were still there when I went, but they were empty. This is a welcome change, since the Florida sun can quickly raise your skin temperature, even if you don’t have a fever. Walt Disney World was the last of the three major Central Florida theme parks to remove temperature check. Both Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando did away with it a couple of weeks earlier.
Walt Disney World’s neighbor, Universal Orlando Resort, has announced that as of May 29 they are no longer requiring masks for vaccinated guests both inside and outside while on their property. While they aren’t checking for proof of vaccination, they are asking guests to wear a mask if they have not been vaccinated.
As more and more people get vaccinated it will be interesting to see how things will slowly get back to normal, or at least the new normal. We all need to do our part to end this virus and get back to living our lives. We look forward to the day when fireworks, more shows, additional dining, and other missing things can return to Walt Disney World. Until then, we will take every small change that we can get.