Halloween has always been a popular time at Disney's theme parks, and while this year the holiday is going to be handled a bit differently, Walt Disney World still plans to celebrate the spooky season. While it will be done without the popular after-hours Halloween party, there is a bit of an upside for anybody who might consider visiting the resort this fall, as for the first time, adults will be able to fully embrace Halloween and wear full costumes inside the parks during normal hours.
In announcing this year's Halloween plans Disney has stated that during the official Halloween season, which will run at Walt Disney World from September 15 to October 31, adults, as well as children, will be able to wear costumes in the parks at any time. Full face masks will still only be allowed for guests younger than 14, but anybody will be able to dress up from head to toe in a costume, which is a pretty significant change.
Traditionally adults have not been allowed to wear costumes in the parks. There have been a number of reasons for this but one of them has always been that if an adult dressed up like a Disney character, they could potentially be mistaken for a cast member by other guests. The resort obviously wants to avoid such confusion.
While the rules on adult costumes have always had enough flexibility that adults feeling a little Disney spirit could dress up a little, the restrictions eventually led to an entire Disney subculture and the concept of Disneybounding. In Disneybounding, one wears otherwise normal clothing, but using certain color combinations or other signifiers, puts together an outfit which strongly implies a Disney character, without qualifying as a costume.
There are usually some allowances made for adult guests visiting Halloween themed events like Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, but due to the new safety procedures in place at Walt Disney World, that event, which tends to bring crowds, has been canceled for 2020. This is likely part of the reason why the change was made, as adults will still have an opportunity to dress up even without the party.
The other reason the rules were likely relaxed is that, with Walt Disney World being open to limited capacity, fewer guests simply means it will be easier to keep track of the guests that are in the park and deal with any potential issues that could arise from costumes in the park. Also, when it comes to the actual costumed cast members, they're being kept at a distance from guests and generally are not wearing face coverings, so somebody dressed as Cinderella who doesn't work there will need to wear a face covering, making them easier to pick out.
And with face masks still being required, Walt Disney World guests who want to go the extra mile will be able to potentially incorporate those masks into a costume, which will add an entirely new level that we've never seen before in the costuming.
The question is, of course, will guests take advantage of the new costume rules and visit Walt Disney World in numbers greater than they have been recently?