BREAKING NEWS: Most Guests Embrace Disney Face Mask Rules But Some Incidents Reported
I walked into my local Walmart this week to a scuffle happening right at the entrance over the uses of masks while shopping. This is a scene that most of us have encountered at least once since mask policies started to be enforced earlier this year. So is it any different at Disney?
There’s an awesome article appearing in the Orlando Sentinel this morning covering this very issue.
Jackie Swisher, Hollywood Studios VP said that for the most part Disney’s mandatory mask policy has been as success. According to the piece in the Sentinel, she chalks this up to the “holistic approach” the park is taking which includes pre-arrival reminders, signage throughout the theme parks and training staff on how to enforce this policy.
One example given was how during For the First Time In Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along, a performer reminded the audience to keep on their facial coverings before continuing the shows rendition of “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” with barely a pause.
Disney also has a team of cast members in bright yellow shirts which serve as the social distancing squad on hand to politely remind guests to wear their face coverings. They even use a plush Mickey Mouse doll as a prop to show the kids that if Mickey can wear a mask so can you! Swisher said of strategies like this, ““We always try to keep it fun — we’re Disney.”
Though Disney has recently increased capacity at the theme parks to 35%, COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country making the enforcement of Disney’s mandatory mask policy a consistent priority.
As we previously reported here at MickeyBlog, last month more signs were posted across the theme parks with messages that visitors caught not following Disney’s mask policy will be asked to leave. There is also an announcement that plays over the loudspeakers every 15 minutes reminding guests.
Union Leader Eric Clinton said that Disney deserved a lot of credit for its strict enforcement of mask-wearing given the company’s ethos that the client is always right. “[A mask] is the thing that can protect you. Disney is taking that very seriously,” Clinton noted. “They’re proving to people we can operate safely even in a pandemic.”
Though the Sentinel quotes one health official who said that Orange County felt like a “pressure cooker” that was about to go off, the amount of incidents over mask wearing remains pretty low-key.
In one incident an elderly guest at Disney’s Hollywood Studios was attacked by two other guests from a large family who were reportedly not wearing masks as they were waiting out a rainstorm near Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.” According to a report from the Orange County Sheriff’s office, members of the group punched the senior in the head whe a woman from the family also joined in. They continued to hit the victim until he fell to the ground.
The man was not seriously hurt and the family fled the park before the sheriff’s office could make an arrest. This incident happened on September 17th.
As we previously reported here at MickeyBlog an Orlando man was also arrested back in August for hitting and threatening the life of an EPCOT security guard who was enforcing the mask policy. Clinton said of the incident, “There’s always going to be people like that in the world, unfortunately,” Clinton said. “I don’t think that’s the norm.”
But for every incident like those mentioned above, there are hundreds upon hundreds of guests streaming through the theme parks daily who follow the policies without incident. Jocelyn Lagor, a cast member working on Kilimanjaro Safari said that though she initially worried about spotty mask wearing like she had seen at the grocery store, the Disney experience had exceeded her expections. “I would definitely say it’s been surprisingly easier than I imagined,” said Lagor, a union steward.
And during our visits to the theme parks, we’ve seen countless instances similar to that reported in the Sentinel of Disney employees like General Manager Kartika Rodriguez reminding a man who had just finished drinking not to forget to put his mask on. As Swisher said, it’s all about the delivery, “Body language is just as important as ever to communicate with our guests,” Swisher said. “We always lead with empathy.”
When it comes to the health & safety policies designed to keep guests safe, Disney World is constantly updated and revising to keep guests better informed. If restaurants get overcrowded, more tables are set up. Just this month, Disney posted new signs at EPCOT which stopped guests from bringing food or drink into the indoor queues.
Recently the park has also banned masks with facial coverings or neck gaiters which have been deemed ineffective in combating COVID-19.
So as we head into the busy Thanksgiving week, for those heading to Disney there is a reminder to follow the rules and also peace of mind that Disney World is working hard to keep visitors safe.
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Source: Orlando Sentinel