Universal Studios Orlando has led the changes for theme parks in Florida, and Disney usually follows, but not this time.
Universal Orlando Mask Policy Change
Universal Orlando Resort (all three parks) has revised its mask mandate yet again.
Here are the latest safety updates for your visit.
- Face coverings are no longer required for fully vaccinated guests
- We do not require proof of vaccinations
- Guests who are not fully vaccinated are still expected to wear face coverings while indoors
- We encourage all guests to keep a safe distance between travel parties
- We remain focused on maintaining the highest cleanliness and sanitization standards
This is revised from a standard they changed a few weeks ago. That policy stated guests were required to wear masks at all indoor locations, but would not have to wear masks outdoors. Before that, Universal required masks indoors and outdoors.
This “honor system” approach whereby face masks are only required by those who have not yet been vaccinated has been seen elsewhere by brands like Starbucks, and Target. Even if brands wanted to ask guests to prove vaccination they couldn’t in the state of Florida where doing so is now against the law.
Governor DeSantis signed SB 2006 stating, “In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”
Universal was not required to make the change to its mask rule, however, they wouldn’t be able to ask guests for any sort of documentation. It’s a little like getting up to go to the restroom when the seatbelt sign is on. A flight attendant can remind you the sign is on, and state that it’s inadvisable but they cannot stop you from using the restroom if you so choose.
(Caution, some mild NSFW language)
Disney’s Prior Change and Match
Walt Disney World Resort (Florida) followed Universal at most stages of the process. Universal reopened in June, then Disney in mid-July 2020. Universal announced an end to temperature checks on May 6th, Disney announced the following day that they’d do the same by the end of May 2021. Universal announced that it would no longer require masks in outdoor spaces, Disney did the same.
That’s where this game of follow-the-leader has come to an end. Walt Disney World continues to require masks indoors and has not followed the same “honor system” guidelines. Social distance has been reduced at Universal Resorts to three feet from six, and I have not yet seen if Disney followed this guideline (feel free to comment if you’ve seen it) but this would echo guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)
It may not matter anyway, as Orange County, Florida has recently hit a crucial benchmark of lower than 5% positivity in COVID-19 tests. The mayor could have lifted the guideline last week but instead is expected to make an announcement next week. Businesses can always choose to require and enforce face masks as they see fit, and consumers can continue to choose businesses that do or expressly do not require the precaution.
Disneyland Alters Its Policies in California
Disneyland Resorts in California had not been able to re-open for more than a year. When permitted to do so, capacity limits were set at just 15%, California residents only and, of course, no screaming. Since that April 30th reopening, capacity limits have increased to 25%, and now non-Californians are also welcome. From June 15th, all COVID restrictions (from the state) will be lifted, Disney is free to continue or alter its mask policy at that point.
Unlike Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, face masks are required indoors and outdoors regardless of vaccination status.
I have no doubts that Disney will soon follow Universal’s lead, again. The company has been in lockstep behind its crosstown rival’s policy changes. However, I don’t doubt it will be due to the mayor and guidance from the CDC when Disney finally fully lifts its mask orders while maintaining the same honor system for vaccinated guests, allowing the company to comply with the law but also add back guests to its parks.
What do you think? Will Disney, once again, follow Universal? Will they wait a bit longer?