Epcot Fountain and Spaceship Earth

Slowly but surely Walt Disney World and other theme parks have been relaxing their rules that were implemented following the pandemic. While it's still not clear exactly when "normal" will fully return, yesterday during the company's quarterly earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek celebrated new CDC guidelines that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks, and stated that these, and other recent changes are going to result in an "immediate" increase in the capacity of the theme parks.

Around the end of 2020 Bob Chapek revealed that Walt Disney World was running at about 35% capacity, a slight increase from where the parks had opened. As fas we know, that's where capacity has largely stayed. However, following recent changes in guidelines, from both the CDC and Florida state government. Disney has already reduced social distancing requirements in some places, which opens the door to increasing capacity, and Chapek was not shy to state that has already begun to happen. According to Chapek...

You’re going to see an immediate increase in the number of folks that we’re able to admit into our parks, through our reservation systems that we recently implemented, so we’re very, very excited about that.

No specific details were given regarding how quickly capacity in the parks would be increasing, or what the new limit would be, but capacity will be increasing overall. It will likely happen slowly over the next few weeks and months, but it is happening. This is great news for many reasons. More capacity simply means that more people will have the choice to go to Walt Disney World. It also means the resort will need more hotel rooms and more theme park cast members, which means many more furloughed workers are probably going to be on their way back as well.

And the increase to capacity isn't only happening at Walt Disney World. Early in the day on Thursday reservations for Disneyland Park were all but gone for the entire month of June, but checking in the afternoon revealed more reservations available in the latter half of the month. California plans to relax most restrictions on June 15, and that has likely led to Disneyland Resort also being able to increase capacity.

Not all restriction are being lifted. While the CDC is saying that vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in public, the Disney Parks are not lifting that rule for anybody just yet. At this point, it seems like it would be complicated for the theme park to be able to manage knowing who is vaccinated and who is not, so Disney is keeping everybody masked, at least for now. However, some other theme parks, like Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, are following CDC guidance to the letter and allowing vaccinated people to enter the parks without masks, though it does not appear they are checking vaccination status.

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