About a year ago we were all looking forward to 2021 as the year when everything was going to get back to normal. It would be the year that we could go out and do things that we had previously avoided, like go to the movies or visit theme parks. And while things certainly have improved, we’re still not “normal.” And things have actually taken a step away from that goal at Universal Orlando Resort, as the theme park destination has made the decision to return to indoor masking inside the parks and associated areas.
Universal Orlando Resort has announced that, beginning December 24, masks will be required by guests and team members alike, in all indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Mask wearing outdoors is still optional for all. Previously, mask wearing was not required for anybody at the resort. Read the full statement below.
Update from Universal Orlando Resort pic.twitter.com/Kr14xkBh0cDecember 22, 2021
While not specifically stated, the decision for the rule change now is likely due to the merging omicron variant of COVID-19. Many other publicly facing companies are increasing their restrictions. Broadway has begun to cancel some shows again, though not completely shut down. Many companies are simply playing it safe and it appears Universal Orlando Resort has decided to do the same.
The rule change with UOR simply puts the resort in line with its main competition over at Walt Disney World. Disney World has been requiring masks indoors, at least for the unvaccinated, continuously through 2021. The state of Florida has not required that locations require masks recently. When the state rules were changed UOR did the same, but WDW has largely followed CDC guidelines, which stopped requiring masks indoors for the vaccinated for a brief period earlier this year, before changing its recommendation back.
Regardless of your opinion on the mask requirement itself, it’s difficult to not be more than a little frustrated with the entire situation if only for the inconsistency of it all. Between state guidelines and CDC recommendations it seems that every place, and thus every theme park, has different rules. Masks were required indoors previously at Walt Disney World but not at Universal Orlando. You could pick your park based on your feelings on masks if you wanted
Over in California, where rules are tighter across the board, masks were required indoors both at Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. However, due to a county rule, you might be asked for proof of vaccination at USH, though that won’t happen at Disneyland.
As one would likely expect, this announcement has been met with a wide variety of responses, both positive and negative. Many are applauding Universal Orlando for taking this step, others are frustrated with what they believe is an unnecessary precaution. There are angry people asking about refunds on Twitter, claiming they were only visiting Universal due to the lack of mask requirements.
I don’t know how many people were making theme park plans based on mask rules alone, but now, if there is an upside to all this, it’s that both major Florida resorts now have the same rules. How long that will continue to be the case is unclear.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.