This guide to face coverings at Walt Disney World offers info & tips, our recommendation for the best masks, rules & policy changes, and answers to frequently asked questions on wearing masks at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Blizzard Beach water park. (Updated May 19, 2021.)
The question of “are face masks required at Walt Disney World?” has been a controversial topic among fans for months, since before the parks reopened or the rule was even announced. We are not here to relitigate the topic. If you want to argue about the mask policy, join a local debate club. If you want your voice to be heard about Disney’s rule in a meaningful way, contact Walt Disney World.
Our view is: what’s done is done. Walt Disney World, along with every other Disney theme park in the world SeaWorld Orlando, Gatorland, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida (see our Face Mask Guide to Universal Orlando) all have face mask policies. Some parks do have more flexible policies, but every major theme park has a mask policy of some sort. However, those are starting to be relaxed or disappear entirely as of May 2021 (more on that below)…
It’s understandable if you don’t want to visit Walt Disney World while the face mask policy is in place. You’re certainly not alone, and it’s no secret that Americans are divided on the topic of face masks. Many Walt Disney World fans will undoubtedly avoid the parks so long as the health safety rules and restrictions are in place.
Even if you are willing to visit Walt Disney World while the mask rule is in effect, be aware that wearing face coverings is just one of the many compromises you’ll have to make in the near future. See our “Temporary Abnormal” Guide to Walt Disney World for other important planning info.
Now let’s take a look at Walt Disney World’s rules concerning masks; here’s the official face covering policy from DisneyWorld.com that applies everywhere:
Face coverings are required for all Guests (ages 2 and up) and Cast Members. Please bring your own face coverings and wear them in all indoor locations, except when actively eating or drinking while stationary and maintaining appropriate physical distancing. Face coverings are optional in outdoor common areas at Walt Disney World Resort, but are still required upon entering and throughout all attractions, theaters and transportation.
All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) must:
- Be made with at least 2 layers of breathable material
- Fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the guest to remain hands-free
At this time, based on guidance from health authorities, neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable face coverings. Costume masks are also not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with Walt Disney World’s existing rules.
Face coverings may have an integrated transparent plastic panel to aid in viewing the wearer’s mouth. These face coverings must:
- Be a fabric face covering featuring a solid plastic panel containing no openings that is attached to the fabric on all sides using tight knit stitching
- Meet all face covering requirements listed above
The use of face coverings is not a substitute for physical distancing.
Next, let’s address some of the more frequently asked questions about masks…
What’s the best mask for Walt Disney World?
We have bought many masks. The one we’re using now is the Powecom KN95 Face Mask in the parks. The CDC has provided guidance on their use and testing results for over 120 KN95 masks.
After doing some research, I opted for the Powecom masks due to their high performance (over 99% filtration efficacy in testing results) and scratch-off anti-counterfeit label on the package that provides codes to verify authenticity on the company website. Additionally, they’re comfortable, offer a snug fit, and are relatively inexpensive by KN95 standards.
Any other face mask recommendations?
My other favorite option is from Suay LA. These are still a great, breathable option, especially for hot weather when the KN95 mask might be more uncomfortable. These are constructed from medical grade non-woven polypropylene surgical wrap and have a nosepiece. They should offer a degree of protection to the wearer. Both of us prefer the small. It’s a snugger and cleaner fit, especially above the nose and under the chin.
Those are our favorites, but we also carry disposable 3-ply face masks. These are great as a back-up, or if you opt to double mask to give you a more secure fit or better filtration. (This is what Sarah does now with the Suay, since the KN95 is slightly too big for her.) Additionally, the Auliné Collection Mask is a good reusable option for adults. If you have other recommendations, we’d love to hear them.
When will Walt Disney World’s mask policy end?
The short answer is that we don’t have a specific date. However, it has already been relaxed significantly twice, and we expect another relaxation in or around July 2021.
The longer answer is covered in our post: When Will Walt Disney World Stop Requiring Face Masks?
Can we remove masks outdoors?
Yes! Walt Disney World now allows guests to remove face masks in outdoor common areas. This includes theme park entrances, outdoor walkways, and more. Basically masks are now only required indoors, and in outdoor queues.
This is a huge relaxation of Walt Disney World’s face mask rule, and should address a common source of rule-breaking (since eating/drinking and walking is now allowed), and conflict between Cast Members and guests. It should also be a huge relief this summer, as outdoors in the heat and humidity was the most unpleasant place to wear masks. Since outdoor transmission is incredible low risk, this is a common sense solution that should make things a little more pleasant for everyone.
We’ve already seen some pushback against this that it’s a slippery slope or creates a loophole guests will exploit. While that’s entirely possible to some degree, most of those guests would’ve found a different excuse to push the envelope. We are of the belief that, at this point, reasonable rules are better for ensuring compliance than heavy-handed ones. As more people are vaccinated, fewer are going to be okay with strict rules–especially as they’re going away everywhere else. Walt Disney World needs to comport with guest expectations, at least to some degree, if they want to maintain a high degree of compliance. We have more commentary here.
Can we remove masks for indoor photos?
That one is still a no-go.
Our expectation is that the next relaxation to the face mask rule will be indoors. It’s possible indoor photos will be allowed first, or the rule will become a recommendation. For now, you’re still required to wear a mask indoors everywhere.
What’s the face mask policy at table service restaurants?
Technically, face masks are required in all public areas and can only be removed while actively eating or drinking. Face coverings must be worn while standing, waiting or sitting in dining locations.
In practice, guests can remove their face masks upon being seated, and leave them off for the duration of the meal, so long as they are at their table. Some guests chose to leave their masks on while waiting or when interacting with Cast Members.
Where in the parks can masks be removed?
For now, each park still has ‘Relaxation Stations’ where guests can sit with their masks removed. Most of these are outdoors, but in covered locations. Our favorite Relaxation Station is Tomorrowland Terrace, which offers views of Cinderella Castle and a nice breeze off the water.
However, now that masks are optional outdoors everywhere except queues, we expect these Relaxation Stations to quietly disappear in the near future.
Can masks be removed while waiting in line?
No. Additionally, there are signs up plus an in-park announcement indicating that you cannot eat or drink in line.
Are we allowed to remove masks on rides?
No. In fact, if anyone in your ride vehicle’s mask is removed during an on-ride photo, you will not see or receive that photo.
What are the face mask rule at the water parks?
Blizzard Beach is now open, and the official rule is that face coverings are required in designated areas for each Guest age 2 and up, “including but not limited to the park entrance and exit, retail areas, and food and beverage ordering areas. Face coverings will not be permitted while experiencing water slides or in the water. You may also remove your face covering while actively eating or drinking, but you should be stationary and maintain appropriate physical distancing.”
In practice, you basically just wear a face mask when entering and leaving the park, plus when going to get food. All of the areas that require masks are in the front of the park; they’re not required anywhere else. It’s very laid back and feels downright normal once you find a lounge chair and start enjoying the park. (See our Blizzard Beach Reopening Report for more photos and thoughts from our visit.)
What are the mask rules outside the parks?
Masks are required pretty much everywhere at Walt Disney World. In addition to the parks, Disney Springs requires masks inside stores. Resort hotels require masks in all indoor common areas, including while entering and exiting restaurants. Outdoors, masks are optional at both Disney Springs and resorts.
Essentially, you are allowed to remove the mask when seated at a table service restaurant, in your hotel room, within the gated pool areas, or anywhere else outdoors. Masks are required inside while in the lobby, gift shop, food court, using the elevator, walking through the hall to your room, etc.
I’ve had past success breaking Disney’s rules…isn’t the guest is always right?!
No. Every single day guests are denied entry or kicked out of Walt Disney World for repeated rule violations, and trespassed from property for refusing to wear face masks. (Same goes for Universal.)
With the latest in-park announcement and signage additions that “guests not properly wearing an approved mask will be asked to leave,” Walt Disney World wants you to know they aren’t playing around. As the kids say, FAAFO.
Is Walt Disney World offering any medical exemptions on the mask policy?
No. It’s worth noting here that the ADA requires no “reasonable accommodation” for face masks, as doing so would pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others. This comes directly from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The basis for this is that cloth face coverings protect other people from a wearer who is unknowingly infected but does not have symptoms. Meaning that these masks are not PPE, but rather for the benefit of others, and are mutually beneficial when worn by both parties to an interaction–which means that guests wearing masks help protect Cast Members.
How well are guests complying with Walt Disney World’s mask rules?
It varies by park, area, and even time of day. Prior to Walt Disney World making masks optional outdoors, we definitely noticed a lot more fatigue with the rules. Now that people have a breather outdoors, adherence indoors has improved. It’s typically around 95-98% compliance at the parks–a bit lower at night in World Showcase and at Disney Springs.
If you’re still apprehensive about safety, physical distancing is probably the bigger issue now. Even before Walt Disney World officially relaxed that, many guests had stopped being diligent about standing on the markers. Additionally, crowds have increased.
Does Walt Disney World sell masks?
Yes. Numerous stores around the parks, resorts, and Disney Springs sell a range of character designs and Disney patterns. These are $10 each. Keep in mind that you’ll need to wear a mask to enter any of the retail locations to purchase these masks.
If you arrive without a mask, there are vending machines outside of each park that sell generic ones for $2 each. We view these masks like FuelRods, nice to have as a safety net in case something happens, but not our first, second, or 38th choice.
Are the masks sold by Disney any good?
They’re actually not half bad! Still not our favorite option, but if you want something reasonably comfortable and cute, they’re a decent choice.
Plus, the Baby Yoda mask is the official “basic millennial” accessory, following the storied legacy of the blue Monsters U hat and Spirit Jersey. If you don’t Instagram yourself wearing a Baby Yoda mask, gazing off into space, and standing in front of a colored wall, did you really even visit Walt Disney World?! 😉
Any other mask-related accessories that are worth carrying?
Essentially anything that will help cool you down. Another absolutely necessary accessory is the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad. We’ve been praising these things for years, as they’re basically some sort of mix of science, technology, and magic. Great for keeping cool–but staying dry.
Another must-have accessory is the Life Straw Go Filter Water Bottle. Drinking fountain water at Walt Disney World is sourced directly from the swamp, and is actually 3% alligator urine. This bottle filters out the pee, and it’s BPA-free! It also uses a 2-stage activated carbon filter to reduce odor and chlorine, leaving zero aftertaste! (If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, Brita Filter Water Bottles are great, too.)
Another accessory we recommend is this USB-powered travel fan. It’s small, lightweight, and can plug into your external battery charger. This is one of the main recommendations in our Unique Disney Packing List, which is where you can find our all-purpose top picks for things to pack for a trip to Walt Disney World.
How many masks should we pack?
Our recommendation would be to carry at least two reusable masks per person each day. Perhaps 3 if you sweat a lot.
Many reusable masks, including the Suay LA ones, can be hand-washed and dried overnight in your hotel room. In addition to whichever reusable masks you choose, we’d recommend some disposable ones. Failing that, you can always buy the Disney masks in the parks if you need more in a pinch.
What are less-obvious downsides to wearing masks?
Hearing and recognizing others!
Masks muffle sound, and between that and some of the plexiglass barriers, it can sometimes be difficult to hear Cast Members. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said, “I’m sorry, can you please repeat that? It’s difficult to hear with the masks!”
Are there any less-obvious upsides to wearing a mask?
Not having to smile, not having to wear makeup, and pretending to be an old-timey bandit all come to mind.
Masks are a great way for me to conceal my “resting scowl-face.” Adding in sunglasses and a hat actually makes me less self-conscious and nearly invisible, which I also like.
Do you want to hear my mask conspiracy theory?
I thought you’d never ask!
In fact, you should start your own blog to spread the good word and get the real facts out there that the man doesn’t want anyone to see. To start a blog, open a Word document on your computer, type www.creedthoughts.gov.www/creedthoughts at the top, and jot down your suspicions and deep thoughts on the matter. I’ll be sure to check it out–no need to comment on this post.
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!
Do you have any questions this FAQ failed to answer? If you’ve visited the parks since Walt Disney World reopened, what was your experience wearing masks? Do you think there’s anything else guests should know before visiting in during this ‘temporary abnormal’ time? Do you agree or disagree with any of our advice or answers? Please keep the comments civil. This is not the place for arguing about efficacy, politics, and so forth–all such comments will be deleted, irrespective of perspective. Not only are you not going to change anyone’s mind via the comments section on this blog, but you’re not going to change Disney’s policy.