MickeyBlog News for May 16, 2021
Based on updated CDC guidelines, The Walt Disney Company just rolled back one of the most controversial policies ever.
I’ll explain what’s happening in this week’s MickeyBlog News.
Face Masks on the Way Out at Disney
Friday, Universal Orlando Resort modified its face mask policy, a decision that surprised many.
We’ve learned during the pandemic that Disney and Universal frequently converse about health and safety issues in Central Florida.
Sure enough, a few hours later, Disney similarly changed its policies. Here’s what you need to know.
From now on, you don’t need to wear a face mask while you’re outdoors at Walt Disney World!
Yes, you read that correctly. After 14 grueling months, the theme park industry is ready to move beyond the Coronavirus pandemic.
As long as you have received complete vaccination, the rules have changed mightily.
You may wonder why, and the answer stems from Orange County. The Mayor had previously indicated a rule update once the county hit a milestone.
Once Orange County reached a vaccination rate of 50 percent, the Mayor would drop the outdoor mask mandate. That’s precisely what happened.
In fact, MickeyBlog visited the parks to show what they look like. Here’s a livestream from our Facebook page!
When Can You Remove Your Mask at Disney?
However, the policy rollback isn’t total. Disney won’t require the use of face masks while you’re walking around the Walt Disney World campus.
When you’re ready to enter an attraction line queue, you must replace your face covering.
Similarly, you must wear a mask when you’re entering a restaurant or store. The only exceptions occur when you’re eating or drinking.
Effectively, Disney has reduced the amount of time you must wear a face mask during a park visit.
You can take breaks now. Whenever you’re feeling a bit winded or claustrophobic, you can remove your face mask.
Then, when you’re ready to enjoy the park more, you will put your mask back on before entering an attraction line.
Also, in case you’re wondering, shows work the same as rides. You must wear a mask while attending all indoor attractions.
These guidelines follow the recent CDC updates that suggest fully vaccinated people remain safe in all settings. Only unvaccinated people are at risk now.
Please note that everything I’m saying here only applies to Orlando, not the Disneyland campus in Anaheim!
Anecdotal Updates from the Parks
I’m not in Orlando today, but I watched several livestreams of the opening hours at the parks.
Disney waited until 11 p.m. before announcing the change.
So, many guests and even cast members ostensibly could have shown up without knowing the new rules.
Despite this fact, very few people were wearing masks. In fact, one point of contention involved Na’Vi River Journey, a ride with primarily an outdoor queue.
Most guests standing in line for this ride weren’t wearing masks. They only replaced their face coverings once they reached the indoor section.
According to cast member intel, the rules will vary depending on the outdoor attraction’s line queue.
In our experience, Peter Pan’s Flight didn’t require a mask until you entered the indoor portion. For Haunted Mansion, you had to mask up immediately.
If you were holding out on a Disney visit due to mask rules, the worst is officially over. You can safely plan your next trip!
Another Park Change
The headline story I’d expected to write this week involved a different change at park queues.
Walt Disney World has reduced social distancing measures in line queues and other parts of the parks.
You no longer stand six feet away from guests while waiting in line. Disney has technically reduced the spacing to three feet.
Anecdotally, even that seems like a stretch in many places. Cast members have worked hard since last July to enforce Disney’s pandemic measures.
Depending on which source you trust, the United States claims somewhere between 210 and 250 million adults.
At the current count, 155 million have received at least one dose while 120 million are fully vaccinated.
So, that’s somewhere between 62 and 73 percent of the adult population in this country that’s safe from COVID-19 risks, at least serious ones.
As such, the CDC has determined that the worst is over, and Disney has adjusted policies to reflect these changes.
You won’t notice three feet markers in most attraction queues. I presume the explanation comes down to the fact that they’re temporary in nature.
One day soon, Disney will roll back the rest of its pandemic policies.
The changes in face masks and line queue restrictions represent the most critical step. This nightmare’s almost over, barring something unforeseen.
By the way, Disney has also increased its attendance at all four parks. As such, you have a better chance of getting tickets than you did before.
Those of you who got shut out on reservations at your favorite Disney restaurants should start re-checking. I presume availability will open there, too.
With regards to Disneyland, since it just reopened, I wouldn’t expect significant changes soon.
Park officials need more data before they can adjust to the modified CDC guidelines.
Other Park News for the Week
With so many headline stories, the rest of this week’s news pales by comparison. Here are a few tidbits of interest for you.
The Disney Wish has unveiled its pricing, which is right in line with expectations.
The maiden voyage will cost at least $5,550 per cabin, as people pay for the honor of being the first guests.
After that, the prices drop to where they fall in line with other Disney cruises.
A trip on the Disney Wish will cost slightly more, but it’s fractional. You can take a three-night Bahamian cruise for about $1,650, which is quite reasonable.
Alas, nobody will be sailing on Disney this July. Despite all the positive health updates recently, Disney has canceled all cruises for July.
The company feels it’s still a bit too soon to operate. Part of that stems from non-COVID matters.
Some ports have work to do before they’re ready to reopen, which is understandable.
On the plus side, an old friend has returned to social media. The long-absent @WDWGuestService account is back on Twitter.
We hadn’t seen this account since the pandemic started last March. Its return reflects that Disney has re-staffed more customer service employees.
An obvious story involves ride-boarding measures. Based on the information you’ve already read, you can guess where this is going.
Cast members have started loading guests on every row of several attractions. I suspect that this will become the norm soon everywhere.
Keep reading MickeyBlog, as additional pandemic rollbacks should happen soon.
Feature Image: Disney