Ever since the pandemic began the question has been when would things return to normal. The reopening of theme parks itself brought back something that a lot of people felt was normal, but actually visiting those parks right now is anything but normal. However, for those that are truly waiting for the theme park experience to be back to what it once was, we've seen a big step in that direction as both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort have announced that they're ending temperature screenings at their respective resorts, and Universal is even reducing social distancing requirements.
Both theme park resorts have made temperature checks part of the protocol, but each handles them slightly differently. Previously, Walt Disney World was checking the temperature of every guest as they entered theme parks or hotel restaurants. Likewise, Universal Orlando was checking temperatures as guests entered the parks or hotels, and then handing out daily wristbands to show who had been checked. However, both resorts have announced that screenings are coming to an end. At Universal, temperature screenings are already over. At Disney World, temperature screening will end for Cast Members on May 8, and will end for guests on May 16.
However, Universal Orlando Resort has taken things a step further as social distance markings that have previously kept groups six feet apart while waiting in line for attractions have all been reduced to three feet. The state of Florida recently made this change, so it's little shock to see the theme parks adjusting their rules. The Disney World announcements specifies that the decision to remove temperature checks came on advice from the CDC and local health officials.
One potential side effect in the reduction of social distancing, is that if guests are now allowed to be closer together, that means the park should be able to also accommodate more people. Universal may be increasing its capacity following this decision, or planning to do so soon.
While Walt Disney World may not be quite ready to reduce social distancing yet, that's likely close to happening as well. Disney has certainly been a bit more methodical with its rules. In California, the state is allowing fully vaccinated people from out of state to visit theme parks, and while other theme parks are allowing those guests, Disneyland, thus far, has not.
These rules have been in place for so long and have been taken so seriously that seeing them removed is honestly a little weird and the reaction to some might be that it's too soon. However, you can also take these all as good signs, that these rules simply are no longer needed and that's a good thing.
In the grand scheme of things temperature screening was never the biggest problem, if we're talking about the various inconveniences that are associated with visiting theme parks right now. While at least one guest apparently hated the idea so much that he got himself arrested for trespassing in order to avoid the screening, it took only seconds and nobody even had to touch you ro do it.
Masks are still very much required and that's the rule that people really want to see gone. When that happens, we can likely say then that things are normal again. Being able to walk around Epcot and drink something at the same time is the normal we all need.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.