As Disneyland And Disney World Change Their Mask Rules (Again), Is The Theme Park Experience Getting Closer To Normal?

Partners statue and Sleeping Beauty Castle at night
(Image credit: Disneyland)

Theme parks and amusement parks closed down across the country nearly two years ago and while some of them reopened a short time later, the experience of being at a park hasn’t been the same since. From the first days of reopening there were a variety of new rules and those rules have continued to change and evolve over time. Mask rules, as an example, have been added and subtracted and added back again at various points as the state of the pandemic changed. Now however, we may be on the verge of the final end of mask rules as they are about to become optional at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. 

Disney Parks today announced that beginning February 17, vaccinated guests will no longer be required to wear masks indoors or on attractions at either Disney World or Disneyland Resort. It's on of the few times that the rules have changed at both resorts at the same time. Masks have been optional outdoors for all guests for the last several months. Unvaccinated guests will still be expected to wear masks indoors, but seriously who are we kidding?

With this rule change masks will functionally disappear at both domestic Disney theme parks. The news, not unexpectedly, is being met with a variety of responses. Some are glad to see the rule finally go away for a host of reasons. People are vaccinated, waring masks sucks. Being a Cast Member and having to argue with a guest over the fact that they're not following the rules is terrible. 

Others feel the decision was made too soon, especially since there is no enforcement of the unvaccinated mask wearing requirement. A lot of guests to Disney theme parks are children, after all, and kids under 5 still cannot be vaccinated.

Still, for those that have been looking forward to a day when things are “back to normal” at theme parks, we’re certainly close to the experience being the same. There is no social distancing, there will be no masks. Capacity of the parks might still be under 100%, but the parks have been crowded enough recently that you’d never know they weren’t full.

We’re still missing a few entertainment options in the parks, Fantasmic is still missing at both resorts. World of Color and parades are still missing at Disneyland, but we know all that will be back at some point later this year. 

There is still one major US. theme park that will not be “back to normal” this week. While the state of California is ending its indoor mask mandate beginning Wednesday, February 16, which is how DIsneyland is able to make this change, Los Angeles County has decided not to end its own mask mandate. This means masks will still be required at Universal Studios Hollywood for the foreseeable future. 

Still, barring some sort of radical covid surge, this is certainly the end of mask rules inside theme parks. While the end of mask rules is certainly what everybody wants eventually, the question is still whether or not now is the right time. But things are about to look very normal at Disneyland and Disney World, whether or not you think they should. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.