Since Disney World reopened in July after its Covid-related shutdown, the Mouse House has been changing, altering and tweaking its on-site rules to make the experience as fun, efficient and safe for guests as possible. At times that has involved easing off on some of the capacity limitations, and at times that has involved being stricter about safety protocols. The latest update to protocols definitely falls into that latter camp, as Disney announced it will be more strict about guests wearing their masks during meal times.
Obviously you can’t wear your mask while you’re actually eating, but until this point, the rule has been for guests to keep their masks on until reaching their table. That’s not the case anymore. Disney’s website updated its policies to let guests know they now need to be wearing masks while at the table unless they’re actively eating or drinking. In practical terms, this means people need to keep their masks on while ordering and interacting with the staff, prior to their meals arriving. Assumedly, all involved will take their masks off when the food actually arrives and then they’ll put them back on once they’re finished. Here’s the exact language on the update. Please excuse the grammar, as it was taken from the bullet points of a larger list…
Face coverings for each Guest age 2 and up, which must be worn in all public areas and can only be removed while actively eating or drinking. Face coverings must be worn while standing, waiting or sitting in dining locations.
No doubt this change will cause grumbling among some parkgoers, many of whom find a reason to grumble about everything, but I think for most people, this will seem totally understandable. Disney, of course, wants the experience in the parks to be as easy and fun as possible, but it’s also important that cast members (in this case: servers) are able to work as safely as possible. That means limiting interactions with guests who don’t have their masks on. This will be a big step toward doing that.
It’s probably not unfair to say the Disney Parks are experiencing their biggest challenges ever. The months long shutdown resulted in staggering losses, and upon reopening, the staff had to figure out a way to reorganize and alter many of its most basic procedures including how people stand in lines. Fast Passes had to be eliminated because of the dual ride queues, and many of the hotels still aren’t opened back up because of capacity issues. On top of all that, every time there’s a new governmental rule or an update in public health findings, the team must decide how to make changes and adapt. It’s a constant evolution.
Disneyland is still not open in California, though there has been forward progress. Fortunately, whenever it does open, the Mouse House will be able to take all it has learned from this period of experimentation within Disney World to hopefully launch as efficiently as possible. That means providing a balance between letting guests have fun while also putting a number of rules in place that help to keep people as safe as possible. This new mask rule is a good example of that, and it’s nice to see Disney continue to be proactive about these changes.