Disney and Universal drop indoor mask requirement for vaccinated guests in US parks

Posted Wednesday, February 16, 2022 3:17 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Face coverings will be optional for fully vaccinated guests indoors and outdoors at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts beginning February 17. Disney's change follows Florida's Universal Orlando, which lifted its indoor and outdoor face covering requirement for fully vaccinated guests on Saturday.

Read more from CNN.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022 3:57 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Only 294 more pages to go.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 4:00 PM
Jeff's avatar

It's important to remember that we were at this point once late last summer. Then the unvaccinated started dry humping each other and spreading omicron around. 😁


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 4:04 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

It is an interesting question to ask: Whether masks cause the rates to go down or whether masks prevent infection while the rates go down due to some other reason <insert slider>. Obviously lots of places are banking on the latter. (I intentionally exclude the point of view that masks do nothing).

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Wednesday, February 16, 2022 4:05 PM

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 4:18 PM
eightdotthree's avatar

Pleased to not have to wear a mask during my March trip.

What I think is interesting is that last week Florida had 3x the per 100k count when compared to Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh metro (no mandates) had double the cases as the Philadelphia metro (vaccine and mask mandates).

I don't have any theory. I just find the data interesting.


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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 4:18 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

...And the Disney Facebook groups are up in arms all over again.

Someone had to remind them that, a.) they're under no obligation to go to the parks right now if they are worried about being around mask-less people, and b.) that it doesn't matter if it's required or not, they are welcome to keep wearing one, should they feel the need to.

I've seen it all, from "this will lead to more lockdowns" to "Walt would be rolling in his grave over this lack of concern for people's health" and let me tell you, it's more mind numbing than usual.

This should be a positive step, and we should continue to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, rather than trying to avoid it. It's been 2 years of constant worry, and there is nothing wrong with optimism at this point - cautious or otherwise.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 4:37 PM
Jeff's avatar

The scientific consensus, as best I can tell right now, is that the combination of vaccinations and recovered infections provide pretty wide immunity, and it's likely why the omicron surge is plummeting as fast as it went up. If that's true, then it's reasonable to conclude that masks aren't necessary. I don't think that Disney is responding to fatigue, they've been following the experts from the start. I know that even GKTW has relied on them to a certain extent to develop their protocols.

I think my local theater complex is looking at this too, because they sent out a survey today. They require masks in the building, but you can still drink without it, so I'm not sure what the point is. Heck, I was in the donor room for the first big concert hall show (I was there to see Joss Stone in the other theater), and there were like 200 old people in there getting their drink on and picking off the charcuterie board with their bare hands. Gross. I don't think there's a strong case for masks there either, for the same reason above.

The big question is, what happens when broader immunity wanes? We can expect a wave of infection, sure, but what kind of damage will the variant of that time do? Omicron was still potentially damaging or deadly without vaccination. If we need to have another shot every six months to avoid mask mode, count me in. It's not a big deal.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 4:48 PM
Vater's avatar

Happy to hear yesterday that our county BOA dropped the mask mandate in schools.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 5:44 PM

With this news I was going to book a weekend stay at Dry Humping In A Box Truck: Galactic Starcruiser, but I can already tell it's going to be terrible and it's so overpriced. Disney only cares about money. Walt is rolling in his grave. The magic is gone.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 6:38 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

I do get the concern about the sudden nature of the change. If I had been planning a trip for a few months and it was based on particular protocols, I'd be a little...miffed? I don't know what Disney is supposed to do, but I do know that at points on both coasts, changes were made with 36 hours notice and CM's were having to explain to angry/confused/disappointed people at the gate the new rules.


Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022 6:49 PM
Jeff's avatar

But if you're "miffed," I would argue that you aren't following the experts either. That's not the exclusive domain of the anti-vax nutjobs, there are people on the opposite extreme as well. I had a coworker in Portland last October saying they had mask mandates outdoors on open streets. There's no universe where that made sense or was a science-based decision. And as it has been pointed out, no one is saying you can't continue to use a mask yourself. I realize that's not the same level of "protection," but again, what are you really being protected from if almost everyone is vaccinated and/or previously infected?

And my anecdote is that my kid had Covid, presumably delta, and my wife and I never got it.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Phrazy

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Thursday, February 17, 2022 4:17 AM

Jeff said:

It's important to remember that we were at this point once late last summer. Then the unvaccinated started dry humping each other and spreading omicron around. 😁

Exactly.

The rush to declare its over as soon as it starts declining. Instead of waiting until it’s really over. Then back to the beginning.

Last edited by super7*, Thursday, February 17, 2022 4:21 AM
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Thursday, February 17, 2022 6:18 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I don't think the genie is going to go back into the bottle quite as easily next time around. (assuming a next wave of some kind)

Everyone (with the exception if the insanely low risk under-five crowd) is as protected as they want to be. Nothing is going to change at this point in that sense.

Regardless of how "done" it really is or isn't, it's done.


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Thursday, February 17, 2022 7:02 AM

Jeff said:

And as it has been pointed out, no one is saying you can't continue to use a mask yourself.

Apart from the occasional place in Florida requiring that masks be removed for entry.... :)


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Thursday, February 17, 2022 10:43 AM
ApolloAndy's avatar

Jeff said:

What are you really being protected from if almost everyone is vaccinated and/or previously infected?

Well, you're operating under the assumption that people are going to be honest about their vaccination status. Also, vaccination does a good job of preventing hospitalization, but less so of preventing infection. My whole family is as vaccinated as they can be and 3 of the 5 of us got omicron, 2 pretty bad and still needed outpatient medical care. And of course I'm ignoring the 0-5's and immunocompromised, here.

Would it be "extra cautious" to want everyone to wear a mask indoors? Maybe. Is it outside of the realm of sane responses on the slider? No. Would I be miffed if I was arriving on property right now with the expectation that everyone would be wearing a mask indoors? Possibly.

Again, I'm not suggesting Disney should keep the mask requirement. Just that 36 hours notice is not a lot of notice.

Last edited by ApolloAndy, Thursday, February 17, 2022 10:47 AM

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

+2Loading
Thursday, February 17, 2022 12:22 PM
Vater's avatar

Our kids' schools announced a couple days ago that the mandate would be dropped starting this Monday the 21st, but no one was enforcing masks the day after it was announced. And my kids are required to go to school, not Disney. Will more than 36 hours really make a difference, especially when people book their Disney vacations really, really far in advance?

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Thursday, February 17, 2022 12:49 PM

You are coming at it from the standpoint of someone who is happy masks are no longer required in your kid's school. Andy's post is from the point of view (one that I don't understand he even agrees with necessarily but can identify with/understand) of someone who wants people to wear masks. If you based your trip plans on everyone wearing masks and that provided comfort to you to book, I can see the fact that changed could be an issue. With more notice, you could alter your plans to presumably spend less time inside. Not sure how easy it is to do that with 36 hours notice. And with enough notice you could cancel (and I have no idea what Disney cancelation policies are though I am sure many here do). Not saying I agree with that view or that it would be my view, but I can at least understand it.

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Thursday, February 17, 2022 1:36 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

So what is the appropriate amount of lead time on a change like this? And does the same timeframe apply to other mask requirements - like citywide ones?

Even if the 36 hour thing is a valid concern, the number of people it must affect has to be incredibly small. Basically, you have to meet all of the following criteria:

1. Still worried about maskless transmission from others
2. Booked long enough ago that plans are set
3. Arriving within a timeframe that is post-change, but still makes changing those plans impossible

I suppose people like that exist (I mean, we're having the discussion), but as a percentage of guests, that number has to be irrelevantly tiny.


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Thursday, February 17, 2022 1:43 PM

36 hours isn't a lot of notice, but didn't Universal offer more like 12 when they dropped their requirement?

The assumption, of course, is that at least the unvaccinated people will shamelessly lie about their vaccination status. Bare-faced lies, I'm telling you. But it doesn't matter. The reason for preferring that people be vaccinated is that if you are vaccinated you are less likely to be infected and therefore less likely to be spreading virus. That said, I'm vaccinated with both shots, and still spent 12 days in the hospital because there's a version of the virus going around that the immunization wont touch. So vaccination doesn't matter; what matters is whether you're sick or not. And the incubation period for this virus is such that you can pass a lateral flow test and start shedding virus hours later. So testing is difficult and not entirely reliable.

We also know (actually have always known) that masks are also not very effective. There's lots of anecdotal evidence that they can help if you put them on the sick people. But at a population level they are absolutely worthless, showing either no effect or even a negative effect. The CDC now tells us that cloth masks do nothing, and the official word is pretty muddy about whether they can protect you from infection or not. This is now a matter of playing the odds. I don't know what the numbers look like in Florida, but yesterday in Ohio according to my extremely pessimistic calculation, your odds of meeting someone who has an active infection but has not tested positive (that is, an asymptomatic carrier at worst, or an untested sick person at best) are at worst 1:182. Many of those people won't be visiting any amusement park. Many of those people are not feeling well and have removed themselves from society out of an abundance of caution. So in fact the odds of actually encountering this virus carrier are even lower. Disney has clearly decided that they can't identify the 0.55% of the population that should really be denied entry to the park, and it's statistically pointless to put masks on the other 99.45% of their customers for whom it would provide absolutely no benefit.

We have reached a point where we have to individually decide how to protect ourselves. It's useful to know that we only need to protect ourselves from less than 0.55% of the population, and that number is declining. How do you like your odds?

--Dave Althoff, Jr.


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Thursday, February 17, 2022 2:07 PM

I have had both shots and my booster .I caught omicron 3 weeks ago ,Fever for a day, body ache for 2 more days ,Fatigue for a week , Quarantine is now 5 days from first symptoms . I work in a service business ,If a customer comes in wearing a mask I put mine on to keep them comfortable using my business . If my news source is correct the CDC just approved for testing an omicron booster. So it is still months away for emergency authorizations.

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