Walt Disney World in Florida will lift its indoor mask mandate for vaccinated guests on June 15, the resort announced Friday, the latest unwinding of precautions taken by Disney’s largest theme park amid the coronavirus pandemic in response to rising vaccinations and new public health guidance.
Starting June 15, vaccinated guests at Walt Disney World will not be required to wear face coverings except on Disney transportation like buses and monorails, where masks will still be required.
“We expect guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations,” the resort said on their website, though Disney noted they will not ask guests for proof of vaccination against Covid-19.
Disney moved to drop its mandate after nearby theme park Universal Orlando Resort had already dropped its indoor mandate in May, and after Orange County, Florida—where Walt Disney World is located—lifted its mask requirements and state of emergency last week.
Walt Disney World had already lifted its outdoor mask mandate earlier in May, but still required masks indoors and on all attractions, even those that are outdoors.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek had suggested the mask mandate would likely soon be dropped, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance that vaccinated Americans do not have to wear masks indoors was “very big news for us” on a recent earnings call.
What To Watch For
Face masks are so far still required at Disneyland in California, though it’s unclear what will happen when the state’s mask mandate lifts on June 15. So far Disneyland has signaled it will keep the mask requirement in place at least for the short term, noting in a recent blog post that guests will still be required to wear a face covering when the park lifts other restrictions like a ban on out-of-state guests on June 15.
Though the mask mandate is being lifted in response to new public health guidance for vaccinated Americans, children under 12—who make up a sizable portion of Walt Disney World’s guests—are still not eligible to be vaccinated.
Walt Disney World and its safety protocols have become a frequent flashpoint for criticism during the Covid-19 pandemic, attracting widespread attention for the resort’s decision to reopen in July as coronavirus cases in Florida surged. The indoor mask mandate is the latest in a string of pandemic-era restrictions the resort has gradually dropped this spring, including first allowing guests to take off their masks for photos outdoors, getting rid of mandatory temperature checks and relaxing its physical distancing requirements. Chapek also said on the company’s recent earnings call that capacity in the theme parks would “immediately” be increasing after being heavily restricted throughout the pandemic, and suggested Monday at a virtual conference hosted by JPMorgan that the company’s theme parks could potentially be back to operating at full capacity by the fall.
After a year of repeated closures and restrictions, all Disney parks worldwide will be open for the first time since the pandemic began when Disneyland Paris reopens on June 17.