The situation with COVID-19 has continued to change and develop over the past several months.
One of the ways in which we continue to see the impact of COVID-19 in Orlando’s theme parks is through mask requirements at the parks there. Disney World currently has an indoor mask requirement in place. At Universal Studios, mask rules will be changing starting on December 24th. Just how are their policies the same and in what ways do they differ? We’re breaking down what you need to know here.
Keep in mind that this all examines the current mask rules at Disney World and the mask rules in Universal Orlando that will be in place starting December 24th.
Indoor Locations (Generally)
Let’s start at indoor locations (generally), which is where Universal and Disney’s mask policies are very similar.
Disney World requires all guests ages 2 and up to wear masks in ALL indoor locations, including restaurants (except when actively eating or drinking while stationary). This also includes upon entering and throughout all indoor attractions, indoor queues, and in Disney buses, monorails, and the Disney Skyliner. All of this is required regardless of vaccination status.
At Universal (starting on December 24th), masks will be required at all public indoor indoor locations regardless of vaccination status. This includes indoor restaurants, indoor shops, and indoor hotel public areas. Face coverings are also required “at all shows and experiences that take place indoors or in a covered venue.”
So if you’re heading to a public indoor public area at either Disney World or Universal, you should expect to wear your mask.
It’s important to note that at both locations, these rules apply to all guests regardless of vaccination status. At Universal Orlando, there are some different rules based on vaccination status for team members, but not for guests.
Now, let’s talk about attractions. In Disney World, guests are required to wear their masks throughout all indoor locations, which includes indoor attractions and indoor queues. In outdoor areas, however, including outdoor attractions, outdoor queues, and outdoor theaters, masks are NOT required in Disney World.
In Universal Orlando, the rules are a bit different. In Universal, starting on December 24th, masks will be required at ALL attractions from the moment a guest enters the queue to the moment the guest exits the experience. According to the Universal website, this includes outdoor rides and queues.
The exceptions appear to be (1) water rides at Islands of Adventure, where masks are required in the queue but can be removed once on the ride vehicle; and (2) outdoor shows and entertainment experiences, where masks will not be required. But note that face coverings will be required “at all shows and experiences that take place indoors or in a covered venue.”
So, in Disney World expect to wear your mask at all indoor rides and in all indoor queues. In Universal Orlando, expect to wear your mask on ALL attractions and in ALL queues (indoors or outdoors), with the limited exceptions discussed above.
What about eating indoors? Disney specifies that the masks must be worn in all indoor locations, including restaurants, except when actively eating or drinking while stationary.
Universal Orlando specifies that at indoor restaurants, guests have to wear their masks until they are seated at their table. They also note that face coverings can be removed indoors if you are eating or drinking while stationary.
When outdoors, masks are not required in Disney World. This is for all outdoor areas, including outdoor attractions, outdoor queues, and outdoor theaters.
At Universal Orlando, the rules are a bit different — as we noted above. Masks are optional outdoors in most places, but there are some exceptions at Universal Orlando. Starting December 24th, masks will be required in all outdoor queues and outdoor attractions. Face coverings will also be required “at all shows and experiences that take place…in a covered venue.”
But, masks will not be required in other outdoor public areas in Universal Orlando, and will not be mandatory at outdoor shows and entertainment experiences.
One big difference to note between Universal Orlando and Disney World is the age at which masks are required. In Disney World, masks are required for all guests ages 2 and up. In Universal, children under the age of 3 are not required to wear masks.
When it comes to transportation, in Disney World, masks are required in all indoor locations, which includes enclosed transportation like buses, monorails, and the Skyliner.
Universal’s website notes that face coverings are “encouraged” while on resort transportation, including water taxis. It seems that would apply to the shuttle buses that take guests to the parks. But be sure to check the rules before boarding the bus to confirm.
What Masks are Allowed
It’s important to know not only where masks are required, but what types of masks are accepted.
In Disney World, neck gaiters, open-chin, triangle bandanas, and masks containing vales, mesh, or holes are not acceptable. Costume masks are also not accepted. Masks must fit snugly, be secured with ties or ear loops, fully cover the guest’s nose and mouth, and secure under the guest’s chin.
Universal has similar rules but there is a small difference. Masks with exhalation valves, masks that are not secured with ear loops, masks that have mesh or holes, masks that are unable to be secured under a guest’s chin (like bandanas), and costume masks are not permitted as face coverings.
But, Universal’s policies do note that a gaiter is considered an appropriate face mask as long as it covers the guest’s nose and mouth.
In terms of other things to note, face coverings are not permitted while in pools or while on water slides at either Universal or Disney World.
And that’s a basic look at how the mask policies at Disney World and Universal are similar and how they differ. Of course, keep in mind that mask polices are subject to change. Be sure to check back with us for all of the latest information, and check the signs in the parks during your visit to ensure that you’re complying with the latest rules. We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more updates from both parks.
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