Guide to Face Mask Rules at Universal Orlando
This guide to face mask rules at Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and CityWalk covers official policies, our recommendation for the best masks, answers to frequently asked questions on wearing face coverings, and differences between policies and enforcement at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. (Updated February 11, 2022.)
Essentially, this goes beyond answering the question of “are face masks required at Universal?” We’re well aware that this is a highly controversial topic. This post exists to inform, not critique. At this point, the policy “is what it is” and shouting on the internet won’t change that one way or the other. If you want to argue, join a local debate club. If you want your voice to be heard about Universal’s rule in a meaningful way, contact them.
The latest change to Universal’s mask policy is prompted by plummeting case numbers and end of the Omicron surge in Orange County, Florida. Consequently, Universal Orlando Resort announced they will no longer require fully vaccinated guests to wear face masks anywhere in the parks or resorts, whether indoors or outdoors, effective beginning Saturday, February 12, 2022.
This comes after Universal reinstated its indoor mask rule on Christmas Eve. As a result of that rule change, there was no material difference in face mask rules between the policies at Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. That’s no longer the case, as Disney still has indoor mask rules as of midday on Friday. It’s entirely possible that Disney follows suit before the end of the day, but we wouldn’t count on it. (See our FAQ & Guide to Face Masks at Walt Disney World for full details.)
If you’re wondering when that’ll happen…it’s a complicated question well beyond the scope of this post. We speculate at length in When Will Walt Disney World End Its Indoor Mask Rule?
In general, Disney has been behind Universal in relaxing health safety rules. In fact, after dropping all rules at the start of summer, Walt Disney World reinstated its indoor mask rules for everyone back at the end of July and hasn’t changed its policy since. Universal Orlando didn’t bring back mandatory masking until late December, opting instead to only ‘strongly recommend’ that unvaccinated guests wear face masks indoors.
Here’s the official rule from Universal Orlando’s website:
We are updating our policy for face coverings based on local trends and conditions. Fully vaccinated guests will no longer be required to wear face coverings indoors or outdoors effective, Saturday, February 12. Guests who have not been vaccinated will be encouraged to wear face coverings while indoors.
Here are the latest safety updates for your visit.
- Face coverings are optional for fully vaccinated guests. For guests who have not been vaccinated, face coverings are encouraged while indoors – including restaurants, shops and indoor hotel public areas.
- We do not require proof of vaccinations
- We remain focused on maintaining the highest cleanliness and sanitization standards
Each guest must confirm the following before visiting:
- You are not feeling sick or experiencing flu-like symptoms such as Fever and/or
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
- You have not been in contact with someone with known or suspected COVID-19 symptoms
- You are not under any self-quarantine orders
Universal Orlando Resort recommends that face coverings consist of at least two layers (2-ply masks). Additionally, neck gaiters are considered an appropriate face covering as long as it covers the nose and mouth (gaiters are prohibited by Disney).
Next, let’s address some of the more frequently asked questions about masks and other health safety topics…
Is there still social distancing at Universal Orlando?
Not in any way, whatsoever.
Universal Orlando has seen its attendance return to 2019 levels in the last several months. This is further exacerbated by the parks being understaffed due to hiring difficulties, which makes everything feel worse than it is. Suffice to say, you’re going to encounter heavy crowds and long wait times at Universal Orlando, especially during the holiday season.
When will Universal Orlando’s indoor mask policy end?
We don’t have a specific date.
Universal is reinstating this rule following Orange County, Florida reentering the high tier on the CDC’s hotspot map, so it could end when the county leaves the high tier. It could also end following the busy holiday season or when the Omicron wave begins to subside. Universal has been more lax on face mask rules than Walt Disney World, but we still don’t expect it to be lifted until mid-January 2022 at the earliest.
What is face mask rule at Volcano Bay water park?
It’s essentially the same everywhere at Universal.
However, face coverings are not permitted on slides and in pools.
Are Universal employees still required to wear masks?
Universal has been quick to change its policies in accordance with CDC guidance, so if/when that changes again, our expectation is that Team Members will not be required to wear masks anywhere again.
What’s the best mask for Universal Orlando?
That depends upon your goal. If searching for a face mask for personal protection, you should aim for something higher quality. Our recommendation for this is the Powecom KN95 Face Mask.
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. Additionally, the Auliné Collection Mask is a good reusable option for adults. If you have other recommendations, we’d love to hear them in the comments.
Does Universal Orlando sell masks?
Yes. Face coverings are available for purchase at select merchandise locations in CityWalk, Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and the hotels. They are available in various sizes for kids and adults.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to wear a mask to enter any of the retail locations to purchase these masks, so you will want to bring your own.
Are the masks sold by Universal any good?
The designs are a 10/10, especially for those who love ‘classic’ Universal Studios Florida attractions like Kongfrontation, JAWS, E.T. Adventure, and Earthquake: the Big One.
Comfort-wise, they’re also pretty good, like an 8/10.
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 space age magic. Great for keeping cool–but staying dry.
Another must-have accessory is the Life Straw Go Filter Water Bottle. Drinking fountain water in Florida 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.)
Is Universal Orlando still fun despite all the changes?
We think so, but that’s in the eye of the beholder. Beyond the masks, there’s a far greater sense of normalcy at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure than at Walt Disney World. Pretty much everything is operating at Universal Orlando, and there’s a full slate of entertainment in the parks. Universal feels alive and full of energy, even while working within the parameters of health safety protocol.
Nevertheless, it’s totally understandable if you don’t want to visit Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure 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.
Need trip planning tips and comprehensive advice for your visit to Central Florida? Make sure to read our Universal Orlando Planning Guide for everything about Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Also check out our Walt Disney World Vacation Planning Guide for everything about those parks, resorts, restaurants, and so much more. For regular updates, news & rumors, a heads up when discounts are released, and much more, sign up for our FREE email newsletter!
Do you have any questions this FAQ failed to answer? If you’ve visited since Universal Orlando reopened, what was your experience wearing masks? Are you happy or disappointed that Universal did not reinstate its face mask rule? Do you think there’s anything else guests should know before visiting in during this ‘temporary abnormal’ time? Will you be attempting to visit Central Florida this year, or are you waiting until 2022 or beyond? 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 Universal Orlando’s policy.
We were just at Universal this weekend staying on property, and were a but surprised they didn’t send around an email update to their hotel guests. We were so confused why we were wearing a mask indoors when it seemed most people were not! Eventually we saw some updated signage, but I have to say for all Disney’s faults I have to commend them with being much better at making sure guests have all the information and latest changes from the time they book a trip to their arrival at the parks.
Mask will not keep you from contracting Covid, the flu or anything else. It’s so important to research instead of believing the MSM.
100% agree. What a wonderful time we live in when anyone can decide what they want to believe then do their own research to back it up with no fact checking or actual proof required. Pesky MSM being held to journalistic standards that we all disagree with is a joke!
Was just at Disney and Universal last week. Went to all 4 Disney parks. Sun- Hollywood, Mon- Epcot, Tues- Magic, Wed- Animal. Thurs- Islands, Fri- Universal. I was surprised by the lack of mask restrictions that Universal had compared to Disney. Now, I’m sitting in my 4th day of quarantine starting to feel better, I truely believe I caught Covid at either islands or universal studios. No one wore mask, indoors or outdoors there. Most of the hand sanitizer we tried to use was empty around the parks. Everything was just a complete 180 compared to Disney. To me, Disney was doing it right and Universal should go back to that way.
Are masks required on rides?
This is great. We decided against Orlando over the mandated mask requirement by Disney. However Universal isn’t following suit. So we will go to Universal this winter.
Do kids need to were a mask
So correct me if I am wrong, but are not all business entities entitled to profit from your participation in their endeavors? Seems to me that if they don’t create a profit, they don’t exist. Then where would you go, what would you do, and how would you eat, let alone survive? Please stay home! I and millions of other people have not problem supporting businesses especially Disney!
Will children under 12 (who obviously aren’t vaccinated) be stopped if not wearing a mask? My kids are older but just wondering.
James: You are always welcome to continue wearing a mask and keeping a social distance from the people ahead of you. If you are vaccinated, you really don’t have any problem getting the disease again, other than a very mild form of it. If you didn’t get vaccinated, you can wear the mask or choose to not go. It’s a win-win for you.
It might be lifted sooner than I thought. AMC, Regal & Cinemark theater chains all announced today that they will no longer require vaccinated persons to wear masks in theaters.
Which sorta blows, because we went to the first movie show since 2019 last night to see Cruella, while they were still requiring masks.
This is good news. The CDC has been far behind the curve on the mask issue.
Super Bowl celebrations in Tampa? Spring Break 2021? Outdoor activities (and indoor activities in bars) that were screamed at as “super-spreader” events. Nope.
It’s time to get back to normal. That’s what the vaccines are meant for. Consult your doctor about whether you should get it depending on your circumstances; if you have underlying health conditions or know you had the virus, you should’ve already had this talk.
The question now becomes: Whatcha gonna do, Disney? I can understand not changing things over Memorial Day weekend. But it is past time.
The one thing I hope that stays with us is a greater dedication by all the theme parks for cleanliness, especially restrooms, rides and water fountains (when they return).
It’s time for this bad dream to end, and it is, thanks to the vaccines.
Look, it’s all moving in that direction. And, in the larger picture, it’s a good thing. Of course we all want normalcy. However, I’m not ready for crowded, snaking, indoor enclosed queues. I’m happy we just returned from a three week trip visiting Disney and Universal with mask requirements in place. We were there when they declared masks outdoors no longer required. Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable waiting in an indoor queue like Hogwarts Express, or sharing a cabin with another party, which we did during a later visit. I also sat with another party on Forbidden Journey who were screaming the entire time…is it really THAT scary??…but was okay with it because we were all wearing masks. I think there’s a collective happiness that infections and deaths are on the decline in our country. And, the fact that wearing masks to get us through this became so politicized will be an unfortunate blip in our history. Should we put our trust into people wearing masks if they aren’t vaccinated? Oops…sorry, without digressing…Move on we must. Happy theme-parking peeps!
WOW!! Thank you for the update!! Anyone not comfortable simply shouldn’t go or can wear masks. The whole country is working off the CDC guidelines and vaccines are available everywhere. I am in Connecticut and our state was extremely strict and shut down along with NY and NJ in March 2020, and as a result, CT has one of the highest vaccination and lowest positivity rates in the country. My whole family will be fully vaccinated by the time we go this summer and am looking forward to Mask Optional at our own discretion.
Yay this is awesome! Next up, Disney!!!! 😀
Yeah for Universal!!!
Clearly not a student of the English language tho. lol
Americans are to spoiled to create much change. We could stand together as Americans and no go to any theme park requiring a mask. This would create a change in the wallet and all mighty buck. We would see how really concerned they are about out safety. Still we could whine, cry and bitch about the rules and have no action. Unfortune for we Americans. We tend to pick the latter. Personally I am NOT going to spend thousands of dollars to go where a theme park mandates my health care. I work in health care and have my vaccinations. I chose that without a theme park in mind. Hit them in the wallet. At the end of the day, money is all that matters to a business.
Did they just update the mask policy from 2 and older to 3 and older? I looked a few weeks ago and it said 2 and older. Now it says younger than three doesn’t need to. I keep checking to make sure my eyes aren’t tricking me. Lol
I totally agree with you. I get physically ill from wearing a mask. I almost threw up on someone yesterday. I am fully vaccinated. The mask policies need to go away.
Thanks so much for the info! I was supposed to bring my son last year as a surprise for eighth grade graduation but obviously couldn’t so we’re coming this summer. I have a question about the Suay masks you recommended. Is it the surgical one? Thanks!