Face masks have become essential in the Disney Parks and just about anywhere else these days.
Since reopening in July of 2020, Disney World has shared and updated its face mask policies time and time again, so what do they look like now? Well, today we’re taking a look at everything you need to know about Disney’s face mask policies.
What Counts As a Face Covering?
First up, Disney World has had very clear rules on what does and does not count as a face covering. The Disney World website explains that face coverings must fully cover an individual’s nose and mouth and allow the guest to remain hands free. The mask must also fit snugly and comfortably against the side of the face.
To ensure the mask stays on while roaming the parks and going on thrill rides like Expedition Everest or Slinky Dog Dash, face masks must be secured with ties or ear loops. The material the mask is made out of must be 2 layers of breathable material, and can either be disposable or reusable. Gaiters and bandanas are specifically not allowed because they do not meet at least one of these requirements. Also, face masks are not allowed to have valves or holes of any kind in them.
Transparent face coverings where you can see the wearer’s mouth are actually allowed, but they must meet a certain set of requirements. These types of masks must be a fabric face mask featuring a solid plastic panel which contains no openings, and it must be attached to the fabric of the mask on all sides with a tight knit stitching.
Concerning religious coverings, the most important aspect is that the nose and mouth must be fully covered, and it should fit snugly like the previous face mask requirements. Pack an alternative mask just in case you are unsure if the religious covering will not be accepted as a mask.
Another rule, mostly for the kiddos who love to dress up in the parks around Halloween, is that costume masks do not count as face coverings. Costume masks, helmets, ski masks, or anything else that covers the entire face is prohibited. This does not include religious coverings.
There are a limited amount of disposable masks at temperature screening areas, however it is best to plan on bringing your own! We suggest bringing a few, especially for long days in the park. You can purchase them in the parks, hotels, and in vending machines. Nobody wants to wear a sweaty mask or one with chocolate from a Mickey bar smeared on it! There are several face mask accessories that we recommend for the parks as well.
Who Needs to Wear a Face Covering?
The answer to this question is fairly simple. Disney’s original face mask policy included guests ages 3 and up in the category for those who must wear a mask. Disney quietly changed this and updated the policy to be guests ages 2 and up.
Many Disney guests wonder if the face mask policies apply to those with disabilities or medical conditions that make wearing a mask difficult. The rules do apply to ALL guests. Disney has been very strict with their face mask policies, and they have not made any exceptions.
When the parks first reopened, we asked several Guest Relations locations about this, and we’ve regularly been told that all guests – including those with disabilities or conditions – are required to wear masks. No exceptions. Disney recently added that guests who have received the vaccine must also continue to wear masks on property.
How Do Face Masks Work With Swimming?
Although the Disney water parks have yet to open (but will SOON), the Disney World Resort swimming pools have been available to guests! With the exception of those under refurbishment, guests’ swimming experience should be fairly the same as before the closures.
Face coverings can be removed while swimming, which coincides with the CDC’s guidelines. The CDC states that they “advise those wearing face coverings to not wear them in the water. Cloth face coverings can be difficult to breathe through when they’re wet.”
Blizzard Beach, one of Disney World’s two water parks, is set to open on March 7th, 2021. Prior to this reopening, Disney released the face mask policies for their water parks. Disney has specified that face coverings will be required in designated areas for guests ages 2 and up. The designated areas will include the park entrance and exit, retail areas, and food and beverage ordering areas.
Face masks will NOT be allowed while going on water slides and in the water. You will also be allowed to remove your mask when actively eating and drinking as long as you are stationary and distanced from others. We’ll be at Blizzard Beach on its opening day, and we’ll bring you the latest details about how these face mask policies work when put into action.
Eating in Disney World is Not as Simple As it Used to Be
Eating and drinking in Disney World used to be so simple compared to nowadays! You used to be able to just order and eat, and the hardest part seemed to be trying to find the best value for your credits on the Disney Dining Plan. There may not be a Disney Dining Plan at the moment, but there are plenty of rules when it comes to eating and drinking on property right now.
When it comes to sit-down dining, there are a few specific rules you need to know about. Previously, guests could remove their face mask once they were seated and leave it off for the duration of the meal. This is no longer the case.
Disney updated their policy recently to say when dining at a restaurant, guests must wear face coverings while standing, waiting, or sitting in dining locations. In other words guests must now keep their masks on unless they are actively eating or drinking at their table. That means that unless you are taking a sip or a bite, your face covering should be on.
We tested the new policy after it was announced with a meal at 50’s Prime Time Cafe and it did not affect our overall experience much at all. As we were seated, the Cast Member thanked us for wearing our mask and asked us to keep it on unless actively eating or drinking.
When you get up from your table, you must also keep your mask on. It could be easy to forget with the old rules, but now that guests must keep their masks on more, it should be easier to remember.
Eat This (NOT THAT) in Disney World Right Now! 6 Top Tips For Dining in the Most Magical Place on Earth.
Currently, guests cannot walk AND eat and drink. They must be stationary and pulled off to the side away from others to maintain physical distancing. Disney did not start out with this rule, but updated their policy very soon after reopening.
Another more recent change is that you cannot eat or drink while in line for an attraction. The days of grabbing a snack before hopping in a super long line for the most popular ride in the park are over for the time being. Once you get in line, the mask must stay on.
You Must Keep Your Masks On For Photos
One of the biggest questions we got when the parks first reopened is “Do I Have to Wear a Mask While Taking Pictures in Disney World?” This is a rule we see broken by guests quite frequently BUT, ever since reopening, the answer has been yes — you need to keep the mask ON for photos.
We know, we know, it’s not so magical to take home photos in front of Cinderella Castle with masks on, but Disney PhotoPass photographers have been strict about this rule as far as we’ve seen in the parks. So make sure your mask matches your outfit or put on your cutest one if you know you’ll be taking those Christmas card-worthy pics!
There are a few updates to the protocol for PhotoPass photographers as well. Photographers are no longer allowed to take pictures on your personal device. So no handing that phone over to a photographer to snap a quick pic for free. They will be happy to help take pictures with their professional cameras, but to minimize the spread of germs, they are not allowed to touch your devices. The photographers will still scan your MagicBand or ticket to ensure you get your photos, but they will do it as quickly as possible and maintain as much distance as they can during your interaction.
We also miss the days of screaming pictures on rollercoasters or doing a silly pose with your family on Splash Mountain, but those face masks must remain on through the duration of each ride you experience, including water rides. We’ve noticed that Disney does not release photos where guests do not have masks on. Even if you had your mask on, you are not guaranteed to get your picture if someone else in the shot pulled their mask down.
To try and make sure everyone got the ride photos they wanted, Disney briefly tested photoshopping masks onto ride photos when they were being worn incorrectly. This process was short-lived, and we have not seen them do this in quite some time. If you want your ride photos, be sure to keep your mask on the entire ride.
Don’t Worry, There Are Places to Take a Break From Your Mask
Depending on how long the parks are open, you can have some LONG days if you stay from open to close. Luckily, if you need a break from the face masks, there are relaxation zones in each of the parks! In these relaxation zones, guests can physically distance from others and remove their masks. A Cast Member is at the entrance of each station to ensure it does not go over capacity. Disney has not set a specific time limit for these relaxation stations, but they are meant for a quick break from wearing a mask.
There are a few scattered around each of the four parks, and here’s where you can find them!
In between Adventureland and Frontierland, you can find a relaxation area next to A Pirates Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas and the closed Golden Oak Outpost. The seating area for the quick service location is spread out for guests to sit down and relax without a mask on. Several tables are marked as not available if they are too close, since the tables in this area are fixed (not able to be moved). This location has partial shade from the trees, but no awning or covering.
In Fantasyland, you can find a relaxation station at Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus. Character meet and greets used to happen here, but now it is used as an indoor and air conditioned station. Note this is the only relaxation station the AC in this park!
Over in Tomorrowland, you can find a relaxation station at Tomorrowland Terrace. Almost the entire restaurant used to be a relaxation station, but now that it has reopened, the left part of the terrace is currently being used as a station while the rest is for diners.
The Magic Kingdom maps were even updated to include the relaxation stations so that they are easy for guests to find.
EPCOT has two relaxation stations in World Showcase and one in Future World. Next to the Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the United Kingdom pavilion, you’ll find a plethora of shaded tables that act as a relaxation station! Several tables have gorgeous views of World Showcase Lagoon (and the barges for the upcoming nighttime spectacular, Harmonious).
Inside the currently closed Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, you will find another air conditioned relaxation station. This spot used to host a character meal, but now it gives guests a place to sit down and relax.
Over in Future World, head towards Test Track and Mission: SPACE to find another relaxation station.
There are quite a few tables with umbrellas that you can stand at, but this is the only location to go mask-free in this area of the park.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
The newest relaxation station in the park is at the closed Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. You can sit in the bleacher seats away from others, and this is a HUGE station so it’s perfect for larger parties.
The air-conditioned option in Hollywood Studios is over in Star Wars Launch Bay over in Animation Courtyard. This area is pretty dead as it is right now with no character meet-and-greets and the Journey of the Little Mermaid not running.
There is TONS of room in the Launch Bay to spread out and relax, and there’s sweet, sweet air conditioning! There is also an outdoor area, but it usually closes when it rains.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has a total of two relaxation stations. The first is close to Pandora: The World of Avatar and the park entrance at Pizzafari! The restaurant has been closed since the parks reopened, so it now serves as an outdoor relaxation station. Guests have access to plenty of shade since each table has its own umbrella!
The second relaxation station is located along Discovery River. It can be found in the Asia area of the park and it’s called Upcountry Landing.
This is one of the best stations in Disney World because you can wave to characters as they pass by on boats!
You Will Be Asked to Leave If You Do Not Comply
Disney World was very strict with its face mask policies when it first opened, and the policies have only gotten tighter and more strict. Disney has made it clear that if you do not comply with the health and safety measures, you will be asked to leave. We’ve seen this statement on signs in the parks and heard it on overhead announcements.
If you do not have a mask at the entry points, you will not be allowed in. There are Social Distancing Squads and other Cast Members that are on the lookout for guests who are wearing their face mask incorrectly.
We see Cast Members all of the time asking guests to keep their masks on or over their nose when they should be. Cast Members are very on top of it, and will not let guests get away with wearing face coverings improperly. Guests usually comply when approached by Cast Members, but if you do not you will be asked to leave. Guests have also been asked to reschedule their vacation if they cannot comply with the face mask rules. Face masks don’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so keep that in mind when planning your next trip to Disney.
Bonus: CDC Face Mask Guidelines
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) heavily influences Disney’s face mask guidelines. There are some CDC guidelines that aren’t included as a specific rule in Disney’s policies, but are still important to note.
In December, the CDC began recommending that masks should be worn anywhere indoors that isn’t your home. The report also noted that “indoor venues, where distancing is not maintained and consistent use of face masks is not possible (like restaurant dining), have been identified as particularly high-risk scenarios.” Methods like well-ventilated or open-air dining can also help reduce risk of transmission.
The CDC used to note that masks predominately protect others, but they have updated their guidelines to say that face masks also protect the wearer as well. As time passes, the CDC learns more and more about the virus and can therefore update their guidelines and recommendations accordingly.
We know it can seem overwhelming when looking at a long list of policies for your Disney World vacation. As people who are in the parks every day, it is not nearly as hard as it seems. Sure, it’s different if you haven’t been since the reopening, but you’ll likely adapt quickly. We’ve got plenty of resources to help you prepare for face masks in a reopened Disney World like big tips for wearing a mask, a mask tip video, a timeline of the mask updates, and more. We’ll continue to keep you updated on any new or updated face mask policies in Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani, cruises, air travel,
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Have you visited Disney World since it reopened? Let us know in the comments!