Walt Disney World in Florida is making it easier to see smiles again, but guests still can’t hug the characters.
Starting Tuesday, face masks will be optional for visitors to the theme park resort who are vaccinated, though Disney workers won’t require proof of vaccination, the company said on its website.
Visitors who aren’t fully vaccinated still will need to wear face masks indoors and on all rides and attractions. All visitors, whether vaccinated or not, will still be required to wear face coverings on buses, monorails and Disney Skyliner, the resort’s aerial gondola, according to the latest guidelines.
The decision on masks is Disney World’s latest tweak to the virus-related safety rules it created when the coronavirus pandemic was declared in March 2020. Disney World closed for two months last year at the start of the outbreak and reopened last summer with strict safety guidelines that involved masking, social distancing and crowd limits.
Last month, Disney officials started allowing visitors to go without masks outdoors. Disney officials said they expect to ease up on physical distancing guidelines in the near future.
“It’s important to remember that some experiences and entertainment may still be operating with limited capacity or may remain temporarily unavailable,” the company said on its website. “We’re not quite ready to bring back everything yet, but we are optimistic and look forward to the day when Disney pals and princesses are able to hug once again.”
The announcement comes a few months short of the beginning of Disney World’s 18-month celebration of its 50th anniversary. Disney World has high hopes the 50th anniversary celebration provides Disney fans enough reason to return to the theme park resort during a time when vaccines will be more widely distributed.
Last spring, Disney World closed for two months to help stop the spread of the new coronavirus, leading to the temporary furlough of 43,000 workers.
Last fall, the company announced layoffs for 28,000 workers from its parks division in Florida and California due to limits on attendance and other pandemic-related issues. Disney officials said last November that revenue at its parks, experiences and products business fell 61% to $2.6 billion.
Before the pandemic, Disney World employed around 77,000 workers.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.