“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 in July, Disney World has announced that both Cast Members and guests will have to wear face masks while in the theme parks.
UPDATE 7/18/20 – Disney has just updated its Face Mask Policy with more specific instructions on when guests are and are not allowed to pull down their masks for food and drinks while moving through the parks. They also recently shared more information about which types of face coverings are acceptable and which are not.
Read more about this in the NEWS section in this post…
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.
If you want the latest info on the Disney World Reopening and all the new guidelines coming, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
So let’s dive in and see what we know so far.
NEWS 7/18/20 – Disney Updates Policy When Face Masks Can Be Removed
Since Disney first announced that face masks were going to be required in The Walt Disney World theme parks, we found out that one of the only exceptions where you don’t have to wear them is when you are eating or drinking.
Now, Disney has updated their face mask policy with more specific instructions about when guests can and can’t remove their face coverings.
The new clarification from Disney reads:
“You may remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.“
Noticed that the words “actively eating or drinking” were used in the update. This is because some guests have been taking advantage of the face mask policy by walking around with a drink or food item in their hand as an excuse to pull down their face mask.
With this change, Disney is saying that no longer is acceptable and you have to be actively eating or drinking. The moment you stop, you must pull back up your face covering. Guests are also being asked to stand in one place while consuming food or drinks and not walk around through the park at the same time.
If you are moving in the park from one place to another, you MUST be wearing a mask. This is to ensure that guests remain at least 6 feet apart before removing their face masks to eat or drink.
We’ve already seen Cast Members have to warn guests in the park of this very behavior, so now with the wording updated in the park face mask policy, it should help make things a bit more clear for all parties involved.
Any guests who are non-compliant to the rules will be asked to leave the park.
NEWS 7/10/20 – Disney Updates Policy When Face Masks Can Be Removed
For a while it was unclear just exactly what type of face coverings are acceptable in Walt Disney World. Today Disney has offered some clarification on that with some stricter requirements to the policy about what’s allowed and what isn’t.
Just as before, face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members. Guests should bring their own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming.
- All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:
- Be made with at least two 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
Besides showing HOW a face covering should fit, Disney updated what TYPES of face masks are acceptable in the parks.
“At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas are not acceptable face coverings.“
Many have been wondering if they can use neck gaiters with ear loops or bandanas, but has now specifically said that neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas are not allowed. This is because all face coverings must fit securely under the chin and tight enough to the face
It’s important to note that costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with our existing rules.
At least now we have some clarification from Disney so guests know exactly what type of face coverings are acceptable so they don’t show up to the parks unprepared. Stay tuned for more soon…
Stay tuned for more soon…
Right now as of this writing, face masks are 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 World for any guests ages 2 and up.
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 has already put a list of requirements for the theme parks on their website yet, and face masks are included there too.
You can see right there that face coverings are required for guests 2 years and older.
This was implemented first in Shanghai Disneyland. The theme park just reopened its doors and 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.
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.
Face masks coming to Disney World has been known for a while as 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.
Persons required to wear face coverings in Walt Disney World:
- All Guests ages 2 years and up
- All Disney Cast Members
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 2 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?
From what Disney has announced for the reopening period, it looks like face masks will be required in almost every area of Walt Disney World.
The only three places that you don’t have to wear a face mask in Walt Disney World are:
- While dining (walking with food or sitting in a restaurant)
- Swimming in a pool
- “Relaxation Areas”
Obviously guests can’t wear a mask while eating, or swimming, so we are glad these exceptions have been made.
That means however that face coverings ARE required in the following locations:
- General Public Areas (Walking around the theme parks and hotels)
- On Attractions
- Restaurants (not at your table but walking around)
- Using Disney transportation
- Around the pool area
You will not have to wear a face covering while seated at the table of a Disney restaurant, but you will have to wear one if you get up and go to the restroom or just walking around the restaurant.
You also don’t have to wear a face mask if you are walking around the theme parks or Disney Springs and eating or drinking something.
We’ll be curious to how lenient Disney is about the eating rule. As it stands, if you are walking around Adventureland with a Dole Whip for example, you don’t have to wear one. But what if I just have a bottle of Coke in my hand? Do I have to wear one then? 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, but we’ll see how it shakes out.
One of the questions on peoples’ minds has been what happens to face masks while swimming? Thankfully, Disney has announced that face coverings will NOT be required in the Walt Disney World Resort swimming pools.
In their statement they said:
“All Guests ages 2 and up—along with Cast Members—are required to wear face coverings when visiting Walt Disney World Resort. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them at all times, except when dining or swimming.“
Though asking if they would be required in swimming pools sounds like a silly question, Disney did say that they would be required in the Resort Hotels and in common areas.
Obviously it would be impossible to wear one in the pool, as they would either fall off or the disposable ones would get ruined instantly.
Since Disney is enforcing the face mask policy very seriously, we were afraid that the hotels would have to shut down the swimming pools altogether, so we’re glad it didn’t come to that. Pools now join dining as the only two public situations in Disney World where guests will not be required to wear a face mask.
One surprise announcement from Disney during the reopening period is that there will be designated “Relaxation Areas” located throughout the parks where guests DO NOT have to wear a face mask.
At this time, Disney hasn’t shared all the details with us about how these areas without face coverings will work, but we certainly have a lot of questions:
- How many relaxation areas are in each theme park?
- How many people will be allowed into the area at once?
- Will everyone have access to them despite age?
We’ll let you know more as soon as the announcements are made.
How to Wear Face Masks in Disney World
Here are some guidelines for how face coverings should fit when visiting Disney World:
- Fully cover an individual’s nose and mouth
- Fasten face masks securely with ties or ear loops and allow the guest to remain hands-free
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Face Masks can be disposable or reusable
- Should be made of breathable material
Can You Take Off Your Mask?
Disney has announced there will be designated “Relax Areas” in the parks (maybe the hotels too), where guests can freely take off their masks and have a break.
Besides that, they haven’t shared any details about how many relax areas there will be, how many people can go in at once, etc. We look forward to learning more soon.
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.
What Counts as a “Face Covering?” What Kind of Mask?
Disney says in its list of regulations that face coverings are required in Walt Disney World. But just what exactly counts as a “face covering” anyway?
Disney gives specific information about which types of face masks are acceptable in Walt Disney World and which kinds aren’t. According to the Disney World website:
- Fully cover an individual’s nose and mouth and allow the guest to remain hands-free
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops
- Be made of breathable material, either disposable or reusable
The following count as “face coverings” in Walt Disney World:
- Reusable or Disposable Masks
- Face Shields
- Homemade Masks
Whatever you wear, it’s important that it covers the mouth AND nose. Face masks should also fit snugly against your face and should be hands-free. You shouldn’t have to hold it against your face with your hand.
The following are NOT acceptable face coverings in Walt Disney World:
- Neck gaiters and
- Open-chin triangle bandanas
- Costume masks
Regarding neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas, Disney has this to say:
“At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters and open-chin triangle bandanas are not acceptable face coverings.“
REMINDER: Previous Disney dress code rules still apply, meaning you cannot wear a costume mask, helmet, ski mask or anything else that covers you ENTIRE face. Religious face coverings may be acceptable, however we encourage you to bring a secondary face mask just in case.
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.
Disney is following the advice from health officials and the CDC. To get more information you can go to the CDC website and see what they say.
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 isn’t selling any face masks in the theme parks yet, they have started selling them in Walt Disney World.
Right now if you want to buy some Disney character face coverings, head over to Disney Springs and stop by the Marketplace Co-Op store.
Disney Characters include:
- Mickey Mouse
- Winnie the Pooh
- Marie (The Aristocats)
- Baby Yoda
- The Hulk
- and many more
The designs are mostly the same ones you’ll find on shopDisney.com and cost $6 individually or $20 for 4.
Sizes range from Small, Medium and Large, though the smalls are not available for all styles.
- To buy the masks, first, get in line outside the Marketplace Co-Op
- A Cast Member will give you a form to fill out where you can select your design.
- The back of the form has a size chart to help you figure out which size to buy.
- Once it’s your turn, hand over your form to the Cast Member and they will find the mask you are looking for.
- You will then be directed to the correct checkout counter to complete your order.
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. Some attraction specific designs would be awesome.
As soon as Disney announces more locations, we’ll list them 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.
In the end, as long as they have enough guests to fill the parks to 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. From what we’ve seen so far in Disney Springs, Cast Members are taking it pretty seriously and advising guests to put them back on. When the parks reopen we’ll have to see how Disney handles a situation when there are people without masks in a crowd of people or in line for an attraction.
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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