Planning to visit Walt Disney World soon? If you haven’t visited since the Parks reopened in summer 2020, you’ll soon experience health and safety measures unlike any you’ve encountered on property before.
When can you remove your mask at Disney World? What does it look like to go on the rides now? What distancing policies are in place for riding things like Disney buses or the Monorail? Today, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about Disney World’s health & safety policies so you can be fully prepared for your trip.
Note: Keep in mind, these policies have changed over time and are subject to change again. Keep an eye out for updates AllEars.net and our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).
1. Face Masks
If you’re heading to Disney World, you’ll need to wear a face covering. You probably already know that. But here’s a break-down of exactly what that means.
Face masks are required for ALL guests ages two and up. Masks must be worn at all times except when: (1) actively eating/drinking while stationary and socially distanced from others; (2) in the pool; (3) in a mask relaxation zone.
You must keep your mask on at all times while on rides and when taking photos. Planning to snack while waiting in line for a ride? Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do that. Disney now prohibits guests from eating/drinking in line.
If you’re planning on eating at a Disney World restaurant, they’ve updated their mask policy for that, too. Now, “face coverings must be worn while standing, waiting, or sitting in dining locations.” Before, you could remove your face mask once you were seated at a dining location. But now it seems like you’ll have to keep that mask on until you’re actively eating or drinking.
Even if you’ve already gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, you’ll still be required to wear a mask in Disney World.
Masks have to meet certain specifications. For example, they must be made of at least two layers of breathable material, fully cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly on your face, and be secured with ties or ear loops. Keep in mind that bandanas, masks with vents, gaiters, face shields, and other specific things will not count as face coverings in Disney World.
If you want to wear a mask that has a transparent panel over your mouth, there are specific rules you’ll need to follow for that. For example, the plastic panel must contain no openings, and it must be attached to the fabric mask on all sides using a tight knit stitching.
Masks are also required at Disney World’s water parks in specific areas. But there are some areas of the water park where masks will NOT be allowed at all. You can read about those water park face mask rules here.
Keep in mind, guests who do not comply with Disney’s face mask policies will be asked to leave.
If you’re planning on visiting Disney World soon, be sure to click our links above to our full posts on these updated policies to read all about them. Make sure the masks you’re bringing comply with all of Disney’s policies. And consider bringing multiple masks so you can have different options throughout your trip, just in case.
2. Social Distancing
Disney has put various policies in place to promote social distancing throughout the resort. First, there are signs reminding guests to maintain a six-foot distance from other parties.
There are also markings on the floor at various parts of the parks and resorts indicating where you should stand or wait while in line.
If you’re traveling in a large group, there are some specific rules you should know about. Disney has now specified that guests traveling in parties of MORE than 10 will be asked to split into smaller groups while in queues, at dining locations, and at other areas around the parks and resorts to better allow for physical distancing.
Finally, if you’re trying to avoid lines and promote even more physical distancing while shopping, you can make use of Disney’s Mobile Checkout system at some stores on property.
This allows you to buy your merchandise without having to wait in any long checkout lines. Skip the lines and still purchase your favorite Disney items? Sounds like a win-win to us. It’s only available at a limited number of stores right now, though, so keep that in mind.
Several things have changed about many Disney World rides that you should be aware of. Many rides now have plexiglass or some kind of other divider in their queue areas…
…and other rides have plexiglass on their actual ride vehicles.
Many pre-shows (like the ones at The Haunted Mansion and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror) are being skipped to aid in distancing.
Throughout the day, Disney has also been closing some of their rides for a few minutes at a time to fully disinfect ride vehicles and the area. Keep in mind that if you happen to be in line when a cleaning cycle occurs, this could add on some extra time to your wait.
There are also adjustments that have been made for shows where certain seats and rows are blocked off. Keep in mind, because of these seating arrangements, you might need to split up your group if you cannot all fit in the individual areas that are marked as available for use.
You can read about how every single ride in Disney World is handling distancing right now here.
In terms of food, we’ve already addressed one new thing which is the updated mask policy for when you’re eating at a Disney restaurant. Aside from that, here’s what you need to know now about eating at Disney World.
For starters, there are many restaurants that have reopened, but several (including some popular favorites) are still closed.
In the ones that have reopened, you might find modified or slightly limited menus, so keep that in mind.
Also, some restaurants have changed their eating style. For example, Hollywood & Vine, Chef Mickey’s, and The Crystal Palace all used to be buffet-style meals. All three have now changed. These spots now either serve plated or family-style meals. Also, at Be Our Guest, breakfast has been temporarily discontinued, and lunch is now Table Service, as opposed to Quick Service.
Also note: character dining has been modified. At the moment, you can’t walk up to and hug your favorite characters. But you can still wave at your friends from afar and take socially distanced selfies at the spots where character dining is available.
Right now you can dine with characters at Chef Mickey’s, Garden Grill Restaurant, Topolino’s Terrace — Flavors of the Riviera, and Hollywood & Vine. You can also see Cinderella for a brief moment at Cinderella’s Royal Table, and catch a quick glance of the Beast at Be Our Guest.
For distancing purposes, Mobile Order is heavily promoted (and in many cases, essentially required) for many Quick Service spots in Disney World.
Keep in mind you can also eat your snacks and food in the park, but you must be stationary and physically distanced from others.
5. Relaxation Zones
If you want to take your mask off when you are not eating or drinking, you can visit one of the Mask-Free Relaxation Zones. At these spots, you can safely remove your mask while distanced from others and just take a little break.
There are relaxation areas in Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT. Keep in mind that some of these may have changed over time, so always be sure to check where the most updated relaxation zones are.
You might be wondering if the restroom experience is any different at Disney World due to the pandemic. Generally, things are the same, except many restrooms have signs that remind guests to maintain an appropriate social distance from one another.
Some also have signs installed reminding guests to wash their hands for 20 seconds.
7. Hand Sanitizers and Hand-Washing Stations
Throughout Disney World, you’ll find many hand sanitizers and potentially some hand-washing stations with water and soap as well.
Generally, there are hand-sanitizing stations before you get on a ride and at other spots throughout the parks. Be sure to look for those as you walk around.
8. Temperature Checks
Your temperature is taken by a no-touch thermometer. If anyone displays a temperature of 100.4 F or above, they’ll be directed to an additional location for additional screening and assistance. Generally, the guest is then allowed to try and cool off.
If after trying to cool off and being re-screened the person ends up maintaining a temperature of 100.4 F or above, that individual and those in their party will NOT be allowed entry.
Temperature checks are also part of the reopening of Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park.
9. New Security Screening Process
A new security screening process is also now in place in Disney World. Before, you had to open up your bag and have a Cast Member poke around it as the screening. Now, a contactless system is in place that lets you pass through a metal detector while holding onto all of your items, except any that the signs might specifically ask you to remove.
If one of the detectors goes off, you may be asked to open your bag for security to look through, or your items may be waved down with a metal wand.
10. Health Acknowledgement
The Disney World website specifies a health acknowledgment that you are essentially making by entering Disney World. Specifically, it notes that by entering the Disney World Resort, you are confirming that you and all persons in your party are not experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19 identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The website then lists a number of symptoms including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, and muscle or body aches, among others.
By entering Disney World you’re confirming that you have not been in contact with someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms without completing a 14-day quarantine and that you are not under any self-quarantine orders.
If you cannot confirm any of those things, Disney’s website indicates that you “must not enter Walt Disney World Resort.” Disney also notes that if at any point during your vacation you can’t meet the above criteria, the guest and their traveling party “will be required to isolate and may be relocated or asked to leave the property.”
It’s important to keep this in mind. You must ensure that you fully meet Disney’s health acknowledgment terms before and during your stay.
If you do stay at a Disney World hotel, they now have enhanced cleaning and some housekeeping modifications. Specifically, Disney has shared that they have increased cleaning in high-traffic areas like public elevators, handrails, restrooms, and more.
Before you arrive, your hotel room will undergo a thorough cleaning with attention to high-touch areas, floors, and more. Inside the room, you’ll find individually wrapped glassware and things like plastic wrapped around the remote controls.
Guests in hotels with reusable shampoo, conditioner, and body wash canisters will see that these nozzles are cleaned between guests. You’ll find a piece of plastic on the nozzles to show they’ve been cleaned.
During your stay, housekeeping will also be a bit different. Generally, your room will get a light cleaning every other day which includes wiping of some services, removal of trash, replenishment of towels, and vacuuming. You can also decline this service if you want. And the rules are a bit different for Disney Vacation Club Members using their membership to stay. You can read all about this on Disney’s website.
Also keep in mind that Bell Services will deliver luggage to rooms but is not currently escorting guests. And valet parking is generally not available with the exception of guests with disabilities who require parking assistance.
Disney is also heavily encouraging online check-in for your hotel reservations. Additionally, they have automatic checkout and a virtual chat available with hotel Cast Members — all designed to minimize contact and maintain distancing.
Each form of transportation around Disney World has a slightly modified sitting arrangement to promote distancing between different parties.
Guests can only sit on the Disney buses now — there’s no standing. Buses also have an entirely new seating system. Guests are now assigned to different “zones” and directed to sit in those zones. Each zone has a different number of seats. If you’re traveling alone, you’ll get a zone to yourself. If you’re traveling in a large party, be aware that your group will have to split up into different zones.
There are dividers between some zones and some seats may be marked as unavailable for use.
We’ve also seen buses with a greater number of zones, where each zone has a smaller number of seats assigned to it, to help promote capacity. Because of the capacity restrictions, you should factor in more travel time during your vacation, as you might have to wait a bit before you’ll be able to hop on a bus.
In terms of Disney’s Friendship Boats, you’ll generally find barriers placed between seats, with every row available for seating, unless it is otherwise marked.
As for the Ferry Boats that take guests to and from Magic Kingdom, you’ll find distancing measures on the boat, like circles for guests to stand on.
The benches are also marked as unavailable for use.
Over at the Disney Skyliner, Disney is loading one party per gondola.
So, if you are a party of one, prepare for a solo ride up in the sky!
Finally, the Disney World Monorails have some distancing rules of their own. Standing is no longer allowed on the Monorails, and capacity has been limited. You will be directed to a specific zone which you will then sit in on the Monorail.
Additionally, the monorails now have distancing barriers between some of the areas…
…and many of the Monorails are now equipped with distancing dividers between the seating areas.
Here’s a peek at what the dividers look like from the side.
Again, keep in mind that these zones are limited in terms of capacity, so if you’re traveling in a larger group, you may need to split up.
13. Parades and More
As part of Disney’s distancing policies, parades, character meet-and-greets, and fireworks have been temporarily suspended. You can still watch Disney’s character cavalcades, though. These are like mini-parades with no set schedules.
Some characters are also greeting guests from a distance. For example, you can usually say hello to Anna and Elsa in Norway, or wave at some characters as they stand in the Main Street Train Station.
And that is our full guide to Disney’s health and safety measures. Of course, things are subject to change in the future. So, be sure to watch for any updates from us at AllEars and look for any updated signs around Disney World. We’ll be on the lookout for any changes and keep you informed!
Are you planning to visit Walt Disney World soon? Let us know in the comments.
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