This guide to face masks at Walt Disney World offers info & tips, recommendation for best masks, rules & policy changes, and answers to frequently asked questions on wearing masks at Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, plus traveling to and within Florida. (Updated April 18, 2022.)
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.
As of the latest rule change, Walt Disney World joins all other major theme parks in Central Florida as effectively eliminating their indoor face mask rules. Similarly, SeaWorld Orlando, Gatorland, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida all only “recommend” face masks rather than having actual rules–with only a few exceptions. There are a few places where you’ll still have to wear a face mask at Walt Disney World, as covered below.
April 18, 2022 Update: As of today, you’ll no longer have to wear a mask while flying to Central Florida. Earlier today, a federal judge in Florida vacated the federal mask mandate for airplanes and other forms of public transportation. The ruling found that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had overstepped its authority, failed to adequately explain its reasons for the mandate, and did not allow public comment in violation of federal procedures for issuing new rules.
As a result, the Transportation Security Administration will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time. CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.
Already, United, Delta, Southwest, and Alaska Airlines have announced that effective immediately, face masks are no longer required on their domestic flights, select international flights (dependent upon the arrival country’s mask requirements), or at U.S. airports. All other major airlines are expected to follow suit very quickly, as the “Airlines for America” industry group had lobbied on their behalf to end the mask mandate before it was previously extended.
It remains to be seen whether Walt Disney World will likewise drop its face mask requirement on buses and the monorail. Disney’s mask rule for those forms of transportation is predicated on the same CDC order, so it would stand to reason that Disney will follow the lead of the aforementioned airlines. However, it wouldn’t surprise us if Disney waits a little longer to see whether the Justice Department will appeal. Our expectation is that there won’t be an appeal, and Walt Disney World will lift the bus and monorail mask rule by the end of the week–but that’s just a guess.
Face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated Guests in both outdoor and indoor locations. We expect Guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, including indoor attractions and theaters. Face coverings are still required by all Guests (ages 2 and up) on Disney buses and monorails.
All face coverings (whether disposable or reusable) should:
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
Face coverings should not contain valves, mesh material or holes.
Costume masks are not considered appropriate and are prohibited from being worn, in alignment with existing rules.
Face coverings may have an integrated transparent plastic panel to aid in viewing the wearer’s mouth. These face coverings should:
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
Here’s a chart to help understand where masks are and are not required at Walt Disney World for all guests:
Face masks are now optional for fully vaccinated guests on the Disney Skyliner and on the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser transport from Halcyon and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Face masks are still required for all guests aboard Walt Disney World buses and the monorail.
Next, let’s address some of the more frequently asked questions about face masks at Walt Disney World…
Will Walt Disney World be asking guests their vaccine status?
For one thing, there’s past precedent–Walt Disney World didn’t make any distinction the last time mask rules were dropped. Also, it’s prohibited under Florida law and other businesses have lost high-profile legal battles with the state.
For another thing, virtually no business anywhere—even in other states without Florida’s laws—is differentiating between vaccinated and unvaccinated guests beyond the honor system policy, unless required by the state (and as mentioned above, Florida does the opposite).
It’s simply not worth the hassle and headache. It would be asking a lot of Cast Members at a time when there’s already a labor shortage and frontline employees everywhere are at about their wits’ end. This is why the new rule is, essentially, “there is no rule.” (Outside of enclosed transportation, where there remains a face mask rule for all guests. You should expect that to be actively enforced.)
If my kids are under age 5, and thus cannot possibly be vaccinated, will they be required to wear masks?
Again, this is effectively the end of enforcement of rules by Walt Disney World.
Even though it can reasonably be deduced that a small child under 5 years old is unvaccinated, Disney will not be policing whether they wear masks in light of the above. Instead, all unvaccinated guests will be “expected” to wear masks. Likewise, I am expected to eat vegetables when I prepare dinner for myself, but you can guess how that goes when I’m left unsupervised.
Why are there still mask rules on transportation?
As best we can tell, that one is outside Walt Disney World’s control. (Honestly, I’m not sure how they’re lifting the rule on the Skyliner and Galactic Starcruiser transport–but this is a confusing of rules and regulations, so there’s probably some ‘exception’ I’ve missed.)
According to the US Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an Order requiring the wearing of masks by travelers on conveyances when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel. The Order defines “conveyance” as including “aircraft, train, road vehicle (including rideshares), vessel…or other means of transport, including military transport.”
At present, it appears that this is set to expire on May 3, 2022. It could be extended, as that has already occurred several times in the past. (We didn’t dig too deeply on this one, so take this explanation with a grain of salt.)
This makes me feel uncomfortable to visit Walt Disney World, any risk mitigation advice?
The highest-risk activity at Walt Disney World since reopening has been dining indoors. That has remained true without regard for any past or present rule changes. The easiest way to reduce your actual risk is by eating outside. See our List of the Best Outdoor Dining at Walt Disney Worldfor recommendations. If you’re comfortable with indoor restaurants, mask rules shouldn’t really change the equation much for you.
For those who are still concerned about face masks, the silver lining is that One-Way Masking Works. High quality masks are now widely available, so your safety is no longer dependent upon what others are doing–your health is in your own hands.
(Here’s one high-quality mask we recommend. We don’t use it anymore, viewing higher quality masks as superfluous for two relatively young and healthy adults who are fully vaccinated and boosted, but they’re a good option if your personal profile or risk tolerances differ from ours.)
After doing some research, I opted for the Powecom masks due to their high performance 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 high quality face mask 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.
Do many guests wear face masks?
In outdoor common areas, we’d estimate that roughly 20% of all guests are wearing masks as of March 2022. We’ve noticed that this number fluctuates depending upon local case numbers. It was higher in August, significantly lower in June-July, and lower now once again.
During our time at Walt Disney World over the course of the last week, we didn’t observe any discernible differences among the parks. Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios are all more or less the same.
Is the face mask rule being actively enforced on transportation?
That’s hit or miss.
You should absolutely bring a face mask with you to Walt Disney World if you’re relying on enclosed Disney transportation, but don’t be surprised if you see other guests not wearing masks. If that’s a concern, we’d recommend renting a car.
Are face masks be required on boats, ferries, and other watercraft?
What are the face mask rule at the water parks?
Same as above, with one notable exception.
Face coverings are *not* permitted while experiencing water slides or in the water.
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 now on clearance, and prices should continue to drop.
For now, there are still vending machines outside of each park that sell generic ones for $2 each.
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.)
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? Keep the comments civil, as this is not the place for politically-charged arguing, antagonism, personal attacks, or debating the efficacy of NPIs. We will be heavy-handed in deleting comments that cross the line, even if it’s only a single sentence. 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 shout your opinions into the internet abyss, that’s why Facebook was invented.