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Disney World Masks

OpEd: It’s Time Walt Disney World Ends Mask Mandates

On February 11, Universal Orlando Resort announced that it would no longer require its Guests to wear a face mask anywhere in the Parks. And I say it’s time for the Walt Disney World Resort to do the same thing.

Disney World’s current face mask policies are an absolute joke.

I have to wear a mask inside a spacious hotel lobby, and then when I walk down the hallways to my room–which is all usually done with plenty of space around me–but I am free to walk maskless shoulder to shoulder through jam-packed crowds on Main Street, U.S.A., U.S.A., or World Showcase.

In restaurants, I can take my mask off if I’m standing at the bar or sitting at a table, but I better be masked up if I go to the bathroom?

Credit: Disney

It’s fine if I’m maskless as I snake through the roped-off excess line with other Guests outside Space Mountain, but as soon as I walk under that awning, then I have a chance of catching the latest variant, right?

Meanwhile, this lingering double standard is covering up so much magic. Disney World forces all Guests over the age of two to mask up in certain areas, so it just adds one more unnecessary trigger for frustration in parents, Cast Members, and judgy Guests. Oh, and be sure to keep the mask on during a ride. Otherwise, you won’t get the in-ride photo of your family.

Face Masks at Disney

Credit: Disney

Folks, I was at Magic Kingdom on the first day it reopened to Annual Passholder almost two years ago. Back then, it made sense because we had to wear masks everywhere, and we had no idea what we were dealing with. Now, we know that cases are going down, survivability is still way over 95%, and we have greater herd immunity and vaccination numbers.

Universal stated their decision was due to the change in “local trends and conditions” of COVID-19. They are clearly looking at how to get things back to normal. Disney World needs to be that proactive.

When Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., began their phased reopening July 11, 2020, all guests 2 years of age and older were required to wear an appropriate face covering at all times, except when eating and drinking while dining. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Also, nothing is stopping Guests from wearing their masks if Disney stops forcing all Guests to wear them. To each his/her own.

As a Floridian, I really only need a mask for two things: to use Uber and to go to Disney World. (This is a site for Disney-related content, so we are going to focus on the latter.) After proper scientific advisement, The Free State of Florida has not enforced COVID restrictions like mask mandates or capacity limits for some time. Once the state mandates were lifted, the voluntary hold-outs began dropping like dominos, with only theme parks, select corporations, and mass transportation services maintaining any semblance of the pandemic life. Signs reminding people to wear a mask and social distance hang stale like Christmas lights on a house in June.

Disney World

Credit: Disney

But, guess what? We are still here. We are flourishing, and if statistics from the housing market to Disney World crowds show anything, it’s that people from all over America are flocking here.

I have been going to Disney my whole life, and I can’t tell you all how many times I came home with a cold or a sinus infection. IT HAPPENS. But it’s worth it because I’m living my life and risking illness to have joyful experiences with people, friends, and family.

I understand that there were those with comorbidities and late diagnoses that were not so fortunate these past few years, and all of those people with pre-existing conditions and other hesitation-arousing situations should do what they can to protect themselves. But it’s time for the world–and the Disney World–to break free and for the individuals to mask up as they see fit.

Capture Your Moment, Hollywood Studios

Credit: Disney

Sharing the Magic begins with sharing a smile. Let’s begin with looking for those Disney smiles instead of that piece of ill-fitting–and probably dirty–cloth covering it up. Hopefully, Disney World’s decision to stop selling masks in the Parks is a sign that they’re on their way out.

About T.K. Bosacki

TK is a writer and editor based in Tampa, FL with a passion for all things Disney, and adventure.