And as the global situation develops, Disney has updated its policies to bring back the magic but still protect guests — including specifying that there’s no eating/drinking allowed in line and noting that masks cannot be removed to eat or drink, except when stationary and physically distanced. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been making changes to their policies over time as well, and here’s how some of those important changes could potentially impact your future Disney Vacation and how you plan for it.
Face Mask Guidelines
The CDC has been adamant about wearing masks, but they recently updated their recommendations to note that masks should be worn everywhere INDOORS that isn’t your own home.
The report also notes that “Indoor venues, where distancing is not maintained and consistent use of face masks is not possible (e.g., restaurant dining), have been identified as particularly high-risk scenarios” and methods like well-ventilated open-air dining or providing take-out service might help to reduce risk.
Additionally, the CDC had previously only noted that face masks are used predominantly to protect others, but it has changed its position to now say that face masks also protect the mask wearer.
Disney’s mask policy specifies that guests must wear masks at all times except when stationary, physically distanced, AND actively eating and drinking. Masks can also be removed if you’re seated at a restaurant and eating, in a mask relaxation zone and in the pool. Masks must be worn when taking photos, eating and drinking (which would require you to remove your mask) is not permitted in queue lines, and you will be asked to leave if you cannot wear your mask properly.
Basically, you should expect to wear a mask all the time in Disney World unless one of those situations applies or if you’re in your own resort hotel room. If you haven’t been to Disney World since these changes were made this year, that might be a BIG new change for you to adjust to.
But this is something you can prepare for, and we’ve got LOTS of resources to help, including tips on masks that you haven’t heard 1,000 times, 8 BIG tips on wearing a mask in Disney World, a video with more tips, and SO MUCH MORE!
The CDC’s report indicating that masks help protect the wearer too likely only bolsters Disney and their decision to require face masks throughout their theme parks and resort hotels. This report could mean that Disney will keep their mask policy in effect perhaps for longer than expected. At this time, you should be expected to wear a mask on future Disney vacations until Disney announces otherwise.
In terms of how the CDC’s new policy regarding wearing masks inside may affect your trip, so far we haven’t seen it cause any kind of impact in Disney World yet. Indoor dining is the area we’d think would be most impacted as it is really the only indoor space where masks are removed in the presence of others outside your group.
While we don’t think this change in CDC policy would result in the removal of all indoor dining, it could prompt Disney to encourage even more physical distancing in indoor spaces where masks are removed (like restaurants), limit capacity for restaurants further, try to promote better ventilation in its indoor restaurants, or even readjust seating to offer more outdoor seating.
We could also see Disney World instituting policies more similar to those that were used in Disneyland at Carthay Circle, where, while dining outdoors restaurant, we were instructed to wear our masks until our drinks/food actually arrived and to put on our masks again as soon as the food was removed from the table. Basically, if we weren’t actively eating, that mask needed to be on.
That’s not currently the policy in Disney World. As soon as guests sit down at a restaurant in Disney World (whether outdoors or even indoors), guests are generally allowed to remove their masks throughout the entirety of their time there (even before their food arrives and after their food is removed) until they get up to leave the table for any reason.
Taking things one step further, the County Disneyland resides in has previously required restaurants could only operate (for a time) as outdoor dining and indoor dining was completely banned. (It has since gotten even stricter, banning any public dining at Downtown Disney for the time being). The Florida Governor has vowed these sort of restrictions won’t come back to Florida, but could Disney World impose similar limitations at the suggestion of the CDC?
Right now, we haven’t seen Disney make any changes based on the updated CDC report, but it’s certainly possible. If Disney World chose to limit to outdoor-only dining though, this would create a big problem for most sit-down restaurants as well as many fast-food spots that can’t accommodate outdoor dining. We will definitely be on the lookout for any updates.
Temperature checks are a way of life in the reopened Disney World and are required at all 4 parks, Disney Springs, and table service restaurants in the Disney World resort hotels. But, in a recent report, the CDC noted that temperature checks may be ineffective at identifying COVID-19 cases.
Essentially, a person could be positive for COVID-19 and not show any symptoms at the time the temperature check is done, so symptom-based screening methods likely wouldn’t be effective in identifying and screening that person out. Symptom-based checks like temperature screenings require a lot of resources, and, according to the CDC, may not really result in identifying a significant number of cases. Many of our readers felt this was a flaw in temp checks well before they even began, but the CDC has just recently spoken out confirming this.
This update from the CDC could eventually allow Disney to remove its temperature checks in the future or replace them with a different COVID-19 check of some kind that is found to be more effective or similarly effective but require less resources. But, the temperature checks can potentially screen out at least a small number of individuals showing symptoms, and can add a sense of security for guests during this frightening time for many.
For many guests, the comfort of knowing SOMETHING is being checked, as opposed to guests just walking in the parks with a mask on, may be enough. And, considering that Disney has repeatedly noted how it has been able to successfully and safely open its parks around the world, and the fact that no COVID-19 cases have been directly traced back to Disney World, it’s likely that Disney wants to keep its guests feeling safe.
Right now, we haven’t seen any changes from Disney due to the CDC report about the ineffectiveness of temperature screenings. We expect that temperature checks will continue for now, but could be changed in the future as the situation changes.
Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen testing recommendations change. At first, there were a limited number of COVID-19 tests available and limited access to them, so the CDC’s testing recommendations reflected that. But, as access to testing has increased, the criteria for those who can and should be tested has expanded too.
A few months ago, the CDC changed its recommendations to note that those who had come in contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19, but were not experiencing symptoms, did not need to be tested. The CDC later changed its recommendations again back to its original state. Now, testing is once again recommended for anyone who has been in close contact (within 6 feet of the infected person for at least 15 minutes) with someone with confirmed COVID-19, regardless of symptoms.
In terms of how this could impact your Disney trip, it may mean that you end up needing to be tested or even just want to be (and have the ability to be) tested before your Disney trip or while at Disney World if you learn of any such exposure.
That could result in a potential positive test before your trip, which would cause you to delay your vacation, but also help keep you and others safe and help stop the spread of the virus. You could also potentially get tested and find out you do have the virus during your trip, which is a scenario you don’t necessarily want to think about, but you should prepare for.
If you get tested before your trip and test negative, it can also help put your mind at ease knowing that you are not infected and can continue to carry on with your plans, while still being safe, of course.
Basically, greater access to testing and more broad recommendations for who should be tested is something that helps you prepare for your trip and help you feel more secure in your plans and prepare for worst-case scenarios.
Recently, the CDC also changed some its recommendations regarding quarantine in some cases. If you’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and you need to quarantine, 14 days is still the time period that’s recommended, but the CDC has said it may actually be shortened to 10 or even 7 days depending on the community’s resources, whether you test negative on certain days, and whether you have any symptoms.
So, depending on your local public health department’s regulations, the length of your quarantine (if needed) may be changed based on these updated options as presented by the CDC.
You should still plan accordingly in case you need to quarantine at all — whether that’s 14 days or less, and whether it becomes necessary once you’re back home or during your trip. You should also be aware of any rules in your state in terms of needing to quarantine when you return from your vacation, and plan for that as well by potentially shortening your trip to account for those required quarantine days or making sure you’d have the ability to take more time off.
Of course, things continue to change at the CDC and Disney World. The most important thing is to get the latest updates so that you know how to best prepare for your trip, and are aware of potential changes that may be coming in the future. As key issues change or are updated in the future, we’ll continue to share that news with you. We think that one of the best ways you can handle this new world is to be prepared as best you can be, while still remembering to have fun and enjoy the magic of a Disney vacation.