First Universal Orlando Resort changed its mask policy, and now neighboring Walt Disney World Resort has done the same.
The change at both Florida parks means visitors vaccinated for COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks. Universal Orlando Resort does note on its website, though, that visitors who are not vaccinated will be “encouraged” to wear face coverings while indoors, and Walt Disney World Resort explains that park management “expects” visitors who are not fully vaccinated to wear a face covering while indoors.
Both parks note on their websites that the change is due to local trends and conditions. Here’s why: According to Florida’s COVID-19 response data, there were 427,628 new cases of COVID-19 reported the week of January 2, 2022, but that number fell to 103,022 new cases for the week of February 4. Furthermore, 74 percent of Florida’s residents over the age of 5 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state’s data.
Universal’s changes went into effect Saturday, February 12, while Disney World’s change takes effect Thursday, February 16.
“We are updating our policy for face coverings based on local trends and conditions. Fully vaccinated guests will no longer be required to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors effective, Saturday, February 12,” Universal Orlando Resort wrote on its website last week. “Guests who have not been vaccinated will be encouraged to wear face coverings while indoors,” including restaurants, shops, and indoor hotel public areas.
Universal further explains that face coverings are optional for everyone while in outdoor queues and rides.
Finally, Universal does not require proof of vaccination for COVID-19 to enter the park. It does, however, ask that visitors confirm they are not sick or experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or a new loss of taste or smell.
As you would expect, visitors also must confirm they have not been in contact with someone with known or suspected COVID-19 symptoms, and that they are not under self-quarantine orders.
Walt Disney World’s Changes
“Beginning February 17, 2022, face coverings will be optional for fully vaccinated guests in both outdoor and indoor locations,” Walt Disney World announced on its website. “We expect guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, including indoor attractions and theaters. Face coverings will still be required by all guests (ages 2 and up) on enclosed Disney transportation, including Disney buses, monorails, and Disney Skyliner.”
Walt Disney World also does not require visitors to provide proof of vaccination for COVID-19.
On the other hand, by entering Walt Disney World Resort, visitors “are confirming that you and all persons in your party are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the resort explains on its website. Those symptoms, of course, include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, and runny nose.
The resort also points out that additional changes may be made at any time.
“As we have done since reopening, we’ve been very intentional and gradual in our approach to our COVID-19 health and safety protocols,” Walt Disney World explains on its website. “Based on recent trends and regulatory guidance, Walt Disney World Resort will be making adjustments to these measures, which may continue to change at any time without notice.”