Ever since things started to shut down around the country more than a year ago we've been waiting for the day that things "get back to normal." While it's far from clear that things will ever be entirely like they were before the shutdown, we have seen a slow progression toward something that much more closely resembles the pre-pandemic world. As vaccinations have become more prevalent restrictions have slowly been relaxed, and that's certainly true at theme parks like Walt Disney World. Recently the resort began to allow guests to take pictures outdoors without masks, and now, they are once again allowing guests to fill up their own drinks at self serve dispensers.
It may not be earth shattering news, but BlogMickey reports that the theme parks at Walt Disney World have clearly taken a step forward by loosening this rule. Previously, cast members were responsible for filling up drink cups for guests, even at locations that were previously designed to be self serve. If nothing else this will make the simple act of getting something to drink easier in the parks, which will be nice as we move into the even hotter summer months in Florida.
Walt Disney World rules have never remained set in stone since reopening last July. They have continued to evolve as new information was released and best practices were modified. Sometimes this has meant making restrictions tighter, like limiting guests to certain types of face coverings or requiring that guests eating or drinking remain stationary while doing so. However, we've also seen rules relaxed when it was deemed safe, like outdoor attractions increasing capacity.
It makes sense that we would see a slow progression of relaxed restrictions. As vaccinations increase thigs simply become safer, and Walt Disney Company CEO Bog Chapek has stated he expects all pandemic related restrictions to be gone by early 2022. Certainly that won't happen with all rules being lifted all at once, but rather with individual rules being lifted slowly over the next several months.
We've also seen indications that Walt Disney World is hoping that some things will be back to normal even sooner than that. There have been reports we could see HarmoniUS, the new Epcot nighttime spectacular, debut as early as this fall. If that does happen then we'll likely see all nighttime spectaculars returning to the parks to help balance out crowds.
While Disney World may be relaxing things a bit, don't expect that to be the case when Disneyland reopens in just over a week. California has been far stricter than Florida when it comes to the pandemic and while the state is finally allowing theme parks to reopen, many of the rules those parks must abide by are still significant. Still, the fact that California is letting Disneyland open at all, and that Walt Disney World is slowly becoming more recognizable, are positive steps.