In the last few months we have already seen Disney update and tighten their policy, and there have understandably been many questions.
This is a big deal for many guests. And one of the questions we get regularly from our readers and followers is: will Disney relax their face mask policy for guests with disabilities? We’ve passed this question on to Disney World multiple times, and today we’re going to go over the details of what we’re hearing.
What is Disney’s Current Policy?
Even the comfiest of face masks aren’t the most fun thing to wear, especially in Central Florida, and ESPECIALLY in the middle of summer.
Why is this even MORE of a challenge for guests with disabilities? Wearing a face mask can be very difficult — and sometimes impossible — for those with acute sensory concerns.
Currently, Disney’s official face mask policy is as follows: “Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and must be worn in all public areas, except while swimming or seated for dining.” Note that this ALL guests visiting Disney World, including guests with disabilities. And Disney is enforcing this policy strictly.
Disney is being watched carefully right now.
Both Disney World and Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort are under a very watchful public eye right now. Before and during Disney World’s primary reopening — unfortunately coinciding with a major pandemic spike in Orlando — the parks were under attack for opening AT ALL. And health officials as well as the general public are watching closely to see if any infections can be traced back to Disney World.
So relaxing any face mask policy is something they will likely avoid at this time. Before Disney rolls back any policy, they will want to be 100% certain that it will not negatively affect the health and safety of their guests and Cast Members.
As we mentioned above, Disney’s face mask policy has only become TIGHTER over the past few months, with further restrictions against certain kinds of face coverings like neck gaiters and masks with valves. In addition, Disney has added clarity on when guests can and cannot remove their face masks while eating on the go.
When we have asked Disney World guest relations about this situation, we’ve been told regularly that all guests — including those with disabilities — are required to wear masks. Full stop.
What about other theme parks?
Other major theme parks in Central Florida have their own unique face mask policy. Universal Orlando actually goes into specifics when it comes to their guests with disabilities and DOES provide an alternative option. Their policy is as follows:
“If you have a disability that prevents you from wearing a face covering, please contact Guest Services about our alternate accommodation, which is to wear a face shield during your visit. Face shields must cover your nose and mouth, wrap around the sides of your face, and extend to below your chin. Please note that face shields are not permitted on certain attractions, and guests will have to switch to a face covering for those experiences.”
The other large theme park in the Orlando area, SeaWorld, does not seem to provide any specific verbiage regarding the use of face masks by guests with disabilities:
“Face coverings are required for guests ages 2 and older. Guests are not required to wear them while eating and drinking, or in designated relaxation areas of the park.”
SeaWorld then directs guests to the CDC website for guidelines on proper face coverings.
It looks like the three theme parks aren’t in total agreement, so just because you experience certain policies at one park, it doesn’t mean you can expect the same rules to apply everywhere!
When will Disney relax their policy on face masks for guests with disabilities?
With a number of guests noting that they are opting to wait for the parks to no longer require face masks before they visit again, we wanted to provide some insight on when we may expect Disney to relax their policies, and what you can expect in the meantime.
In short, we wouldn’t expect these face mask policies to roll back anytime soon, and it may not be until we’re well into 2021 that we see any sort of relaxed policy in face mask guidelines.
Eventually, we may expect Disney to loosen their face mask policy in more ways than just addressing guests with disabilities, but until that day comes, Disney is serious when it comes to enforcing their face mask policies. So if you are traveling with someone in your party who has a disability, be prepared for the same protocol across the board when it comes to face masks.
If you do plan to visit this year or early next year, expect to encounter Cast Members that will be enforcing these face mask policies in order to keep everyone safe. In conversations we have had with Cast Members, we have been told that the number one priority is safety and therefore every guest must wear their face mask properly. If a guest refuses to wear a face mask, they will be asked to leave.
Wondering what the comfiest face masks are to wear all day in a theme park? See some of our top recommendations here!
Visiting Disney World in 2020 is a VERY different experience than what it was before the closures. On top of the face mask policy, there are limitations on what’s available, with no fireworks, parades, or character meet and greets until further notice, among other things. All of the policies Disney has put into place are there to keep YOU and your family safe, including guests with disabilities, though this time may be extra challenging for those members of your party who find wearing a mask particularly difficult, or even impossible. As always, the only constant at Disney World is change, so these policies are up for modifications at any time. We will continue to keep an eye on these guidelines and will keep you up to date!
Have you visited Disney World since the parks reopened? Share your experience in the comments below!