A month after dropping its outdoor face mask requirement, Walt Disney World will no longer mandate face coverings in most indoor settings either.
Starting June 15, Disney’s policy will closely match that implemented earlier by Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando. Face masks will now be optional in most areas for fully vaccinated guests, but since Disney won’t be verifying or checking anyone’s vaccination status, in practice, Disney is ending the mask mandate for everyone.
There are a few exceptions in the new policy, however, which will mean guests using certain forms of Disney transportation can’t use masks behind entirely. The new policy states:
Face coverings will be optional for fully vaccinated Guests in most areas. Face coverings will still be required of all Guests on Disney transportation, including Disney buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner. While we will not require proof of vaccination, we expect Guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, and upon entering and throughout all attractions and transportation. Guests must observe current policies on face coverings until June 15.
The policy also notes that Disney encourages people to get vaccinated. As of Thursday, 52.9 percent of Florida’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 42.7 percent are fully vaccinated. No COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized for use in children under the age of 12.
Disney also also updated its physical distancing guidelines, reflecting how those markers have been removed over the last month:
We will be relaxing physical distancing guidelines for Guests. This will be visible in places like queues, shops, restaurants, attraction boarding, transportation and our theaters. It’s important to remember that some experiences and entertainment may still be operating with limited capacity or may remain temporarily unavailable. We’re not quite ready to bring back everything yet, but we are optimistic and look forward to the day when Disney pals and princesses are able to hug once again.
Disney World has required face masks at its parks and resorts since it began reopening in late June 2020 after a months-long COVID-19 shutdown. Despite rampant anti-mask misinformation during the pandemic — some of which has been promoted by Florida theme park owners — there is clear and substantial scientific evidence that face coverings reduce the spread of COVID-19.
But Disney has not been immune to politicization of masks. The Orlando Sentinel reported in March that there have been instances where guests have been verbally abusive towards Disney employees tasked with enforcing face mask rules, including one incident where Kelly McKin, a 51-year-old man, spat on a security guard who reminded him of the face covering requirement.