“Will face masks be required in Disney World when it reopens?” For many guests trying to decide whether or not to take a trip to the most magical place on Earth, the answer Disney gives to that question is going to be a big factor.
With Disney Springs already reopened and the theme parks coming sometime soon, Disney World has announced that both Cast Members and guests will have to wear face masks while in the theme parks.
The fan reaction has been an interesting one to say the least. Just the idea of having to wear a face-covering in Walt Disney World has been a bone of contention around the Disney community, with many people already refusing to go.
We get it, we really do. Disney World is your “happy place,” as it is for millions of other people from all over the world. We go to Disney World to forget our problems. It’s a place where no matter what else is going on in the world, we don’t have to think about it. We can just relax and have a good time.
It’s only natural then that we don’t want that perfect image of Disney World that we have in our mind to be changed in any way. The idea of wearing a face mask in the blistering heat of Florida in July, doesn’t help either.
Unfortunately, right now that is out of our control. Disney has made it clear that for the foreseeable future, face masks are going to be an essential part of theme park attire, as much as walking shoes and Mickey ears, if not more.
In this post, we are going to share everything we know so far about face coverings in the Disney parks. We’ll discuss Disney’s stance on the issue, who has to wear one, where you have to wear them, and if you can take them off at all. No doubt there will be plenty of places to buy them inside the parks so we’ll cover that too.
Lastly, we’ll give you our opinion on if in light of this news if you should still go to Disney World anyway, or if it’s better to postpone your trip to a time when face masks are not required.
One thing we want to make clear is we are not medical experts. This post is not here to give our opinions on whether we think face masks are necessary for the Disney parks or not. We are only covering what Disney is saying about them and how that affects your trip.
We definitely want to hear your opinion on the matter, but we ask everyone commenting below to keep things to a calm and rational manner. We do not feel the need to insult anyone for their opinion, for or against, and we hope you don’t either.
We’ll continue to fill in the details as soon as Disney makes any more comments on the matter or changes anything.
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So let’s dive in and see what we know so far.
Right now as of this writing, face masks will be absolutely, 100% required for guests in the Walt Disney World theme parks. As we previously heard from multiple executives in the company, and recent agreements with Disney labor union, they also will be required in the theme parks. They’ve been preparing people for this eventuality, and there is a strategy behind those announcements.
Right now, face coverings are currently required in Disney Springs for any guests ages 3 and up. Their website says this, and on a recent trip to Disney Springs, we found that indeed was the case and everyone was required to wear one, no exceptions.
You can see that as one of the new rules on the many safety signs posted throughout the shopping area.
What about the theme parks? How do we know face masks will be required there too? Disney hasn’t put a list of requirements for the theme parks on their website yet, but by seeing Disney Springs, the other theme parks and comments from executives, you can count on them there too.
Our first example is Shanghai Disneyland. The theme park just reopened its doors on May 11 after over 3+ months of closure. They put in place a variety of new safety measures for guests and cast members alike, one of which is requiring face masks to be worn while in the parks.
Now while it’s true the domestic U.S. theme parks won’t necessarily implement all the new guidelines the parks overseas are using, there is good reason to believe that most of them will happen here too.
Walt Disney World executives have been working closely with the various government agencies, recovery task forces and health experts in order to stabilize just exactly what will be required in the U.S. parks.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek commented in a recent interview with CNBC about the Disney World parks reopening. In answer to the question about what the key thing to get the U.S. Disney parks up and running again is Chapek said:
“One of the things we’re likely going to require is masks for both the Cast and for the guests. And I think the masks for the guest will be something that culturally is different. In Asia, as you know, it’s fairly commonplace for folks to walk around in public with masks on. That is not the case in the United States. So that will be something that will be a little trying for some of the guests, particularly in the hot, humid summers that we tend to have.”
Masks will be one of the most important new safety guidelines. It will likely be as important as the Disney Virtual Queue which helps people to keep a distance by staying out of lines.
Who Has to Wear a Face Mask?
As stated by Disney officials, face masks are required for both Cast Members and Guests. Disney is not distinguishing between anyone entering the parks as anyone could pass on germs to another person.
On the Cast Member side, this makes a lot of sense and it’s obvious that since their job is to interact with guests all day, Disney wants to make sure they are extra careful in protecting both parties.
As a surprise to many, guests are also included in these guidelines. You really should not be surprised with Disney’s decision however as they are listening to direction from the CDC and other health organizations/experts on the best way to contain and prevent new cases from popping up in the parks.
Even children age 3 years and up are required to wear a face mask in Walt Disney World.
Many parents dread the idea of getting their kids to wear a face mask all day long in potentially 90+ degree weather. This requirement however is deemed necessary by the authorities and coincides with the protocols in place in Shanghai. Kids have to be included too since they could just as easily spread germs to others.
Where Must You Wear One?
Again, going off what they are doing in Shanghai Disneyland, it looks like face masks will be required in almost every area of the parks. The only specific mention in Disney instructional material where you don’t have to wear a mask is while dining.
Obviously guests can’t wear a mask while eating, but what exactly does that mean though? If I’m walking around with my Dole Whip throughout Adventureland, do I have to wear one? Will Disney make people sit down to consume food in that case?
From talking with Cast Members so far, it seems that if you have food or a drink in your hand, Disney staff will not stop you if you have your mask lowered.
Can You Take Off Your Mask?
It’s still early, but there seem to be other situations where guests have taken off their masks besides when eating.
Many people have briefly taken them off for photos. After all, you might not want to have a mask on while getting your picture taken with the castle in the background. I would imagine this will be possible in Walt Disney World too, as long as you are doing it just briefly and if there is no one around you.
We haven’t heard specifics about the attractions yet and if you are required to wear them while riding. I don’t know about you, but I picture a problem trying to cover my face while riding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster for example!
What If You Don’t Want to Wear a Face Mask?
Granted there will be people who show up to the parks and don’t want to wear a face covering. What will Disney do at that point? The FAQs from the Disney Springs website make it clear:
What if I don’t want to wear a mask?
Given this unprecedented situation, we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we navigate these challenges as responsibly as we can. With our robust measures in place, we believe a key factor in our success in reopening Disney Springs will be our Guests’ acceptance and adherence to our new protocols. Guests without masks will not be allowed entry to Disney Springs.
So that’s pretty clear. If you don’t want to wear a face mask in Disney World you will not be given entry.
What if I Can’t Wear a Mask for Health Reasons/Difficulty Breathing?
The other complication that comes into play is what if people have health exceptions and cannot wear them? What if someone can’t breathe? We are again talking about a place where extreme heat is common, which can cause various health complications.
Disney has even made a statement on this, advising people who are not able to wear a mask because of other health reasons, to stay at home for the time being since masks are required for everyone.
It will be interesting to see how Disney deals with these issues if they pop up throughout the parks.
Are Free Masks Provided in Disney World?
Right now Disney is providing free disposable face masks to guests who show up at the temperature screening areas of the entrance without one.
There is a limited supply of free masks each day, so if you show up when they are all gone, you’ll have to leave and will not be given entrance. It’s better to bring your own mask if you want to get in.
Can I Wear Any Kind of Mask?
There are many different styles of face masks, each with varying rates of success at stopping the spreading of germs, both for the wearer and those around them. Consistently, Medical-grade masks including disposable surgical face masks and N95 respirators seem to work the best.
However, we don’t believe Disney will go so far as requiring those types. Most likely the lesser-grade masks will be accepted and cloth masks too.
Face Mask Comfort
We will be the first ones to admit that using a face mask takes some getting used to, and in the Florida heat they can be downright uncomfortable to wear, even unbearable at times.
One tip is we recommend practicing at home with the face masks before you come to Walt Disney World. Many people already wear them in public, when shopping, etc.
Try going for a walk with them back home so that you can start to get a feel of what it will be like when walking around the Disney Parks all day.
Also, get a face mask that ties behind your head and not around your ears. The ones we’ve tried around your ears are even painful sometimes, while the masks that tie around your head are much more comfortable and will stay on easier.
Buying Disney Face Masks
You may have seen already that Disney has decided to start selling their own character masks for fans to buy. Right now these can only be purchased online (if you can find them in stock), but we anticipate them coming to the Disney parks once they reopen too.
Disney has announced a new line of protective face masks with the Disney characters on them are now available to buy on shopDisney.com.
Disney is using their timeless stories and beloved characters to help communities abide by the new safety standards when in public settings. These protective cloth face masks fit within the standards of the FDA’s latest recommendations on non-surgical, non-industrial grade face masks.
The Disney character face masks cost $19.99 per 4-Pack and include designs of your favorites such as:
- Star Wars
Disney face masks are available in small, medium and large sizes on shopDisney.com. Orders are backed up so it might take some time to get them in.
In the Parks
While Disney hasn’t announced anything yet, we are sure they will be selling the same or similar masks in the theme parks. It would be nice to see some park-specific designs that aren’t available online too.
As soon as Disney announces where they will be selling them, we’ll list the in-park locations here.
Is This Going to Hurt Attendance?
Yes and no. Obviously, there is going to be a big number of people that will not go to Disney World if masks are required in the theme parks. As we said in the beginning, it’s not everyone’s idea of a vacation dealing with covering your face in the extreme heat and trying to handle keeping them on your kids.
For many, it might just be too much of a hassle to deal with. Disney knows that and has accounted for it.
Right now they can’t afford to have the theme parks full anyway as they will be limiting attendance in Disney World just like in Shanghai. This automatically eliminates a big group of people from the equation, making it easier to stay within the attendance numbers.
Our guess is that Disney will not open all the parks at once, and as long as they have enough guests to fill one or two parks a day at 30% capacity, that’s all they need. Having mask limits attendance and keeps them in line with the latest health recommendations. This is an easy decision for Disney, with not much downside.
Will Disney Really Enforce This?
So we know that Disney is saying that masks will be required in the parks right now, but will they really go ahead and enforce this? If people are seen without masks will they be warned by security to put it on or else?
It’s hard to say and we hope that it doesn’t come to this. We hope that everyone is smart enough to listen to Disney and follow the rules. Even if you don’t agree with it, these are the guidelines Disney is putting into play and we should all abide by them out of common courtesy for our fellow park-goers at least.
That being said, some people just have a hard time following rules and so this is bound to come up. I think that as long as Disney is a bit elastic with the rule it could benefit both sides. Obviously, if people are there celebrating a special event, they aren’t going to want pictures with the face masks on, so letting them take them off in situations like this with no other people around might make sense.
There will be others that take them off because it’s just too hot. Again, I think as long as they are not near other people Disney will probably be ok with this. It’s what happens when they do it while in a crowd of people or in line for an attraction that I’m curious to see.
In the end, because of the new contracts that Disney signed with the labor union, Disney is going to have to enforce these restrictions and make people wear masks. Down the line we may find that they are “strongly encouraged” rather than 100% required, but at least in the beginning it looks like Disney is going to be pretty strict about it.
We’ll have to wait until Disney World opens to find out what happens…
How Long Will Masks Have to Be Worn?
At this time there is no telling how long face masks will be required to be worn in Disney World. Right now the health agencies are recommending that people wear them for safety whenever out in public. Disney is being very conservative in this regard and as long as the authorities are recommending it, we think Disney will continue with this measure.
We don’t know what the rest of the year holds, but if the parks do reopen in 2020 and stay open, it could be some months before you don’t have to wear a mask in the parks, or even until 2021.
Should You Postpone Your Disney Trip?
After reading all this, you may just decide that it’s better to postpone your trip to Walt Disney World until a time when face masks are not required. If you decide that, I totally understand. Especially if I were a guest who only could come down once every few years, I would want to get the most out of my trip, and face masks in my opinion kind of ruin the magic for us.
That being said, we are crazed-Disney fans who have the opportunity to go to the parks often, and we will go anyway, even with the masks. We are missing Disney so much right now that even if it won’t be as great as it usually is, we think it beats staying home.
Ultimately, each family will have to decide what’s best for them. If you are spending thousands of dollars to have one of the trips of your life, you might not want to wrestle with masks and have to deal with being even hotter than what is usual in Florida.
It might not be an issue for a Florida-local who can just go to the parks and do a couple of rides and then go home when they want to. If you are coming from another state or country, you will have to think hard about just what it’s going to be like in the parks all-day and how your experience might not be what you are looking for. In that case, it might be better to wait.
If you want to postpone your trip, the smartest thing would be to put it off until sometime in 2021. That’s when you will have the best chance of going when face masks are not required.
One alternative is to at least book your trip in one of the cooler months of the year (Nov-Feb), this way the heat won’t be so bad if you have to wear one.
Check out our Disney World Crowd Calendar for more information about choosing the best time to go.
Obviously face masks are not the end-all-be-all protection, and if people aren’t following the other regulations Disney puts in-place like sanitizing or washing your hands, then a mask won’t do much good.
Everyone will have to decide when they want to return to the most magical place on Earth. It might be a downer right now because we’ve had a bunch of bad news all in a row recently, and thinking about walking around in Disney World in a mask isn’t the best news we’ve heard in the world.
However, everyone will be able to make their own decision. Whoever doesn’t like the idea, no problem. You are free to go at a future date when these restrictions are not in place. If you are like us and dying to get back in the parks, then it looks like we’ll have to deal with a little inconvenience for a while in order to get back to the place we love so much.
Our guide to Disney World safety might help explain some of the other steps Disney is taking to protect guests.
Let’s hope everyone cooperates and we can then enjoy the parks again without them sometime in the near future.
I want to know what you think about Cast Members and guests having to wear face masks in Walt Disney World…
- Will wearing a face mask change your decision to go to Disney World?
- What other policies should be in place?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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