Walt Disney World drops all mask mandates

Southeast

The Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is seen at the theme park, Aug. 30, 2021, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Disney has paused its policy requiring Florida-based employees to take the COVID-19 vaccine following new laws passed by the state’s legislature last week that limit employers’ power to require vaccinations, according to a memo sent to employees. The company informed employees in a memo sent Friday that it has paused the requirement due to the state legislature’s action during a special session last week, and because of an appeal court’s temporary delay of federal vaccination guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Orlando Sentinel reported. (AP Photo/John Raoux, file)

TAMPA (WFLA) – Walt Disney World has dropped all mask mandates, according to a statement posted to its website on Tuesday.

Face coverings are optional for guests in both outdoor and indoor locations, as well as Disney transportation.

It is recommended guests who are not fully vaccinated continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, including indoor attractions and theaters and on enclosed transportation.

“Please note, face coverings are not permitted while experiencing water slides or in the water,” a release states.

The theme park is recommending, but not requiring, guests who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations, including indoor attractions and theaters and on enclosed transportation.

In California, Disneyland’s guidelines state that face coverings are required “in certain indoor settings including Disney shuttles and in health settings, such as First Aid” for guests 2 years or older.

Face coverings are “strongly recommended” in other indoor settings and optional outdoors.

Walt Disney World’s change in policy comes a day after a federal judge in Tampa struck down the CDC’s mask mandate for public transportation. The decision left airlines, airports, rail stations and other transit hubs free to nix mask requirements. Major airlines and airports in a number of U.S. cities quickly scrapped the mandates.

Walt Disney World has been under fire from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is now pushing to roll back a law that allows the theme park to self-govern within the state.

DeSantis’ action is the latest clash between his office and Disney World, which publicly criticized the recent passing of the new Parental Rights in Education law, which opponents have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Disney has announced it would suspend political donations in the state over the law, which opponents say will marginalize LGBTQ people by barring lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Disney is one of Florida’s biggest private employers: last year, the company said it had more than 60,000 workers. LGBTQ advocates who work for the company criticized CEO Bob Chapek for what they said was his slow response speaking out against the bill. Some walked off the job in protest.

DeSantis has repeatedly lashed out at Disney and critics of the law, gaining considerable attention in conservative media spheres. He insists the policy is reasonable and says parents, not teachers, should broach subjects of sexual orientation and gender identity with children.

Republican lawmakers appear receptive to punishing Disney, filing proposals that would dissolve the district by June 2023. DeSantis has been a powerful governor, effectively pushing his priorities in the statehouse, and both the GOP Senate president and House speaker support him on the Disney issue.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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