Face coverings have been an ongoing focus of conversation as Walt Disney World’s four theme parks reopened last week with the requirement that all guests over the age of 2 (as well as cast members) wear face coverings at all times “except when dining or swimming.” This weekend, Disney updated their face covering policy with new language that specifically addresses mask guidelines while eating and drinking.
The new guidance states that guests may remove face coverings “while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.” Implementation of this clarified language will mean a shift from previous practice in the parks, which had permitted, if not explicitly, guests to remove masks while eating and drinking while walking around.
This new policy takes on particular relevance at Epcot with the launch on July 15 of the Taste of Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Historically, Epcot’s festivals have been a time for guest to snack and sip their way from festival booth to booth, eating and drinking while strolling. To facilitate this shift, the park has added a number of additional tables to give guests more opportunities to stop and remove masks while eating and drinking. During our visits, we’ve seen plenty of space as well as benches and tables for guests to find a spot to stop.
Guests needing a mask break have an additional opportunity to remove their face covering by visiting a “Relaxation Station,” one of multiple zones within each park with physically distanced tables for sitting and spots for standing where guests are permitted to take masks off. Each park has at least one indoor and outdoor Relaxation Station.
Disney has regularly updated their face covering guidelines since Walt Disney World began its phased reopening, starting with Disney Springs on May 20. Previous to this latest update, Disney also recently added new language stating explicitly that gaiters and bandanas will not be considered approved face coverings.
Universal Orlando Resort requires all guests over the age of 3 to wear face coverings and gaiters are allowed. They also issued similar, though slightly less explicit, guidelines with respect to eating or drinking while on the move: “We have arranged tables and seating so that guests can remove their face coverings while they eat. But we ask that they wear them at all other times.” Universal told us guests may only remove their masks while actively eating or drinking.
As the situation continues to evolve, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on any modifications to mask policy at the major theme parks.
Are you relieved to hear that Disney World has tightened up their mask policy? Let us know in the comments!
Also read …
• We wore a mask all day in the hot sun at a theme park; Here’s our experience and advice
• Will wearing a mask at a hot theme park lower your blood oxygen level?
• Questions and Answers about visiting Walt Disney World post-COVID-19 closures