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Disney World Relaxes Mask Rule for Cast Members

Walt Disney World continues to eliminate health safety protocol, with the latest face mask rule relaxations impacting fully vaccinated Cast Members. In this post, we’ll share details of the policy change and offer some quick commentary.

By way of quick recap, Walt Disney World just ended its face mask rule for fully vaccinated guests indoors (no guests are required to wear masks outdoors). Disney also ended enforcement of that rule and physical distancing. In essence, there are no (health safety) rules—it’s the honor system.

Walt Disney World has already relaxed face mask rules in two ways the last couple of weeks. Last week, Disney dropped the face shield requirement of Cast Members in select roles who couldn’t physically distance from guests. Before that, Cast Members in outdoor roles who are able to maintain six feet or more of physical distancing from guests were no longer be required to wear face masks. This covered mostly backstage positions, plus some on-stage ones including parking lot attendants, lifeguards, horticulturists, custodial, construction, maintenance, and some other Cast Members. That rule change applied regardless of vaccination status.

Beginning today (June 18, 2021), fully vaccinated Cast Members working in outdoor roles are longer be required to wear a face mask. As with guests, Cast Members in these positions may choose to voluntarily wear masks.

For now, Walt Disney World will continue to require face masks for all Cast Members working indoor roles, without regard to vaccination status. Additionally, there is no rule change for Cast Members who are not fully vaccinated. Those in guest-facing roles must continue to wear face masks everywhere.

Note that Disneyland is likely to follow suit in the near future. Yesterday, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board issued revised regulations that now conform with general state guidelines that took effect on Tuesday by ending most mask rules for fully vaccinated individuals. Governor Newsom then issued an executive order waiving the usual 10-day legal review, meaning the new rules take effect immediately.

Since Disneyland followed that California’s general public guidance and Walt Disney World is now changing its rules for Cast Members, it stands to reason Disneyland will do the same–potentially as early as today. (We probably won’t even do a standalone post on that unless there’s some meaningful difference between rules for Cast Members at Disneyland v. Walt Disney World. This is becoming less and less relevant to all of you.)

Nevertheless, we are sharing this news because it might be relevant and important to some of you, but each new rule change is becoming decreasingly significant. Accordingly, we are going to be “winding down” coverage of health safety protocol. (To be replaced by increased coverage of the top toilets in the Disney parks. We’ve been slacking on that critical content.)

For practical purposes, guests being allowed to go without face masks indoors was the last meaningful rule change. At that point, those who were on the fence about visiting—either because they didn’t want to visit with any face mask rule in place or didn’t want to visit without one—had their decision made for them.

In theory, some guests averse to the current trajectory of rule changes could justify proceeding with planned trips. They might reason that they can, again in theory, avoid contact with other guests outdoors, minimize time indoors and enclosed queues, and so forth.

In practice, none of that is particularly possible. Operationally, the parks are pretty much back to normal, albeit with reservations systems. Ostensibly, that means lower attendance and crowds, but not in ways guests will necessarily feel due to diminished efficiency. To the contrary, there’s congestion, cramped queues, and “please fill in all available space” has made a comeback.

Of course, there are always ways to mitigate risk, reduce exposure time, and try to physically distance to whatever degree possible. The problem lies with the “whatever degree possible” part of that, which is really not much anymore.

Guests had already informally relaxed physical distancing long before Disney officially changed its rules and crowds have been progressively increasing.

Ultimately, today’s rule change doesn’t really impact any of that by an appreciable degree. The “comfort calculus” on taking a trip might change a bit for some of you, but probably not many. The major rule changes have already occurred. What was or was not possible before remains more or less unchanged. Aside from entering queues, being served in restaurants, asking each Cast Member their favorite Country Bear, and completing transactions, there really aren’t many one-on-one interactions between guests and Cast Members–and none of those are prolonged.

For the most part, guests are in longer and closer contact with other guests while waiting in line for attractions and seated at indoor restaurants. From a perspective of objective transmission, the highest risk activity at Walt Disney World remains the same as it was one year ago: dining or drinking at an indoor restaurant or bar. The difference is that was and is optional, whereas everything else throughout the course of a day in the park is not.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!


Thoughts on Walt Disney World relaxing face mask rules for Cast Members? Please keep the comments civil. This is not the place for politically-charged arguing or antagonism–all such comments will be deleted, irrespective of perspective. You are not going to change anyone’s mind via the comments section on this blog, nor are you going to change Disney’s rules or public policy. If you wish to contest this, rather than yelling into the internet abyss, have your voice heard in a meaningful way by contacting Disney or your local elected officials.

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