Some days we get to talk about the yummiest theme park treats or our favorite roller coasters. But today, we're talking about the mask policies at the theme parks. The rapidly changing policies are keeping us froggies on our toes! Hop along to learn these updated guidelines. As mask guidelines are changing quickly, always check the current policy for your hotel, theme park and water park before you go.
Hopfully, we answer any questions you have. In addition to outlining the mask rules for each individual theme park, we'll share a few tips to make this necessary step a little more fun. (Psst ... some of these tips will also come in handy for other places, too, like if you are flying on a plane and must wear a mask during your flight.) We have a toddler, Lily, and a niece with autism, so we have had to turn over a few lily pads to find out what works best for them too.
This situation is fluid, with theme parks making adjustments to their mask policies on an ongoing basis. We are continually updating what we learn here. Let's jump in!
The Current Mask Policy at Each Individual Theme Park
In Florida, there is no statewide mask mandate, but each theme park is free to enforce its own policy. At all theme parks, masks are optional while outdoors, but rules may differ when it comes to wearing masks in indoor spaces or onboard transportation.
As of June 15, 2021, the California mask mandate ended and theme parks can make their own mask policies. We have seen several theme parks change their mask policies to require or strongly encourage mask wearing for indoor locations since that time. Local county or city guidelines may overrule state guidelines. Similar to Florida, all of the theme parks have more relaxed rules about masks outdoors, but some parks may require masks indoors while others strongly recommend it.
Once again, we expect this to be a fluid subject as time goes on, especially since government rules on masks keep changing.
Mask Requirements in Florida
Even if your park no longer requires a mask if you are fully vaccinated, you may need to carry one with you to access transportation or put one on while you're indoors.
- Face coverings are required for all guests ages 2 and up, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor locations and on Disney transportation (bus, monorail and Skyliner). This includes upon entering and throughout all indoor attractions.
- Guests must wear a face covering in indoor restaurants, except when actively eating or drinking while stationery.
- Face coverings remain optional for all guests in outdoor common areas, outdoor attractions, outdoor queues and outdoor theaters.
- Disney does not require proof of vaccination.
- Masks must fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face.
- Face coverings must be secured with ties or ear loops.
- Mask must be made with at least two layers of breathable material.
- Masks may be disposable or reusable.
- Masks must fully cover the nose and mouth and secure under the chin.
- Neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not acceptable.
- Face coverings must allow the guest to be hands-free.
- Face coverings may have an integrated transparent plastic panel without openings that is attached to the fabric on all sides using tight stitching to aid in viewing the wearer's mouth.
- Costume masks are not appropriate and all masks must be compliant with existing rules and dress code guidelines.
- Guests are not permitted to wear face coverings while experiencing water slides or while in the water.
- Face coverings are strongly encouraged indoors (regardless of vaccination status) and optional outdoors.
- The resort does not require proof of vaccination.
- Face coverings are optional for outdoor queues and rides.
- Bring your own face covering.
- Masks should be secured with ear loops or secured around the head and fit snugly against the sides of your face. It should cover the mouth and nose and be secured under the chin.
- Face coverings are still available for purchase in various sizes.
- Face coverings are no longer required but are still highly recommended while indoors for all guests.
- The parks do not require face coverings for employees who are fully vaccinated.
- The covering should cover the nose and mouth and must be secured under the chin.
- Masks must be secured with ear loops or around the head.
- Unsecured masks, masks with exhalation valves, masks with mesh or holes of any kind and costume masks are not permitted.
- It is recommended that all guests wear face coverings while indoors.
- Face coverings are required for Model Citizens (employees) working in any indoor location across the Resort, as well as those who are not fully vaccinated.
Mask Requirements in California
The state mask mandate ended June 15, 2021, but there are regional orders in some areas that affect theme parks. Check each park's rules and guidelines before you visit. All theme parks have fully reopened. Each park (and zoo/aquarium) offers its own rules for face coverings on its website. The LA County theme parks such as Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain have the strictest mask policies and may also check for vaccination status or for a negative COVID-19 test. Here's what you can expect.
- Face coverings are required for all guests ages 2 and up, regardless of vaccination status, in all indoor locations across the resort including hotels and Downtown Disney. This includes upon entering and throughout many attractions and in enclosed transportation vehicles, including shuttles and buses.
- Face coverings remain optional for guests in outdoor common areas.
- While guests are not required to show proof of vaccination, vaccinated guests will self-attest that they are in compliance prior to entry.
- Guests will also attest they are aware of the state of California's strong recommendation that guests be fully vaccinated or receive a negative COVID-19 test prior to entering the theme parks when making them park reservations.
- The facial coverings must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face.
- The breathable covering must be secured with ties or ear loops and allow the wearer to remain hands-free.
- Be aware that gaiter-syle coverings, open-chin triangle bandanas, and face coverings containing valves, mesh material or holes of any kind are not allowed.
- Cast members will continue to wear masks regardless of vaccination status. Those who are required to wear a face shield in addition to a mask may now wear an N95 mask, safety glasses or face shield along with their company-issued mask.
- All guests (regardless of vaccination status) ages 2 and up must wear a face covering indoors and outdoors in the theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood except when actively eating or drinking.
- All guests 2 and up must wear a face covering while indoors, per LA County's mask mandate, so guests must wear a face covering indoors at CityWalk.
- The facial coverings should cover the nose and mouth and be without exhalation valves.
- Keep in mind that as of October 7, 2021, all persons ages 12+ must be prepared to show proof of full FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccination (a full 14 days after final dose was administered), or a negative test taken within 72 hours of visit, prior to entry to the theme park. Guests 18 and over must also show photo ID. Verification takes place when required based on theme park attendance. Children under the age of 12 are not required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result.
- The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends that people attending certain public occasions be fully vaccinated, obtain a negative COVID-19 test beforehand or wear a face covering.
- Face coverings are no longer required for fully vaccinated guests, but it is recommended that all guests wear masks while indoors.
- Signage will remind guests of guidelines.
- The covering should cover the nose and mouth and must be secured under the chin. The mask must be secured with ear loops or around the head.
- Bring a backup mask in case your mask gets sweaty or wet.
- You may not wear unsecured masks, masks with exhalation valves, masks with mesh or holes of any kind, or costume masks.
- Hop into the gift shops for cute, themed SeaWorld and Sesame Street masks.
- Knott's follows the State of California's recommendations: Park guests be either fully vaccinated, obtain a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of attending the park or wear a face covering. Guests will be required to wear face coverings indoors unless fully vaccinated.
- As of Aug. 1, facial coverings are recommended for anyone in an indoor space.
- Masks are not required for vaccinated guests and are still strongly encouraged for unvaccinated guests. Unvaccinated visitors will be required to agree to those terms when purchasing tickets and making advance reservations online.
- Employees must wear masks, and it's strongly recommended that all guests wear masks indoors while in all indoor locations.
- Per the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, updated health and safety protocols are required for certain designated mandate days.
- Masks are required outdoors and indoors for all guests ages 2 and up, regardless of vaccination status on mandate days (usually busier days).
- Masks are optional in outdoor spaces but are recommended for unvaccinated individuals on less crowded days.
- Consult the park operating schedule before you visit to know how to prepare for your visit.
- Read the safety protocols for details about proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before visiting.
Our Top Tips for Wearing Masks at the Theme Parks
Where masks are still required, try your best to be a good sport about the masks ... and don't froget to apply sunscreen to the top half of your face or you'll have telltale mask lines! And you will never have to guess what year your vacation photos were taken. Ahh! This one is from 2020-2021! Remember that crazy time?
Here’s all you need to know about wearing a face covering at the theme parks, along with some tips for finding the right mask for you, securing masks on rides and more.
Wearing Masks on Rides
We can't have masks flying all over the place, so we make sure our masks are secured and ready for roller coasters and water rides. Having a tight fit or an option of a mask that ties behind the head seems like a frogtastic plan. Bobby pins or clips can help secure a mask.
If you lose your mask on a ride, you'll have to hop into the nearest shop to buy a new mask. We've already seen a mask fly off someone's face on Hagrid's! On that note, it probably doesn't hurt to bring a few backups. (You may also want an extra if you're caught in a thunderstorm or just want to switch it out with a fresh mask midday.) It's important to stow your mask well on water rides so you do not lose it or get it wet. Bring a plastic bag to keep it dry.
Tips for Using Masks
Based on our recent outings, we've compiled some tips to make your jump back to the theme parks while wearing a mask as easy as possible:
- Try a variety of styles to find the best fit for you.
- Consider mask accessories such as ear savers, mask cord adjusters, headbands or hats with buttons sewn on to take pressure off the ears and get the best fit.
- Have fun with the mask by choosing a fabric or style that is in theme with your favorite character or series.
- Plan outfits or other wearable accessories that go with your mask.
- Consider whether your mask is secure enough to stay put on a roller coaster. (Our earloop masks did not hold up to the task, unfortunately, but we're on a mission to find what works best!)
- Cover your mouth and nose with the mask.
- Make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it.
- Replace a damp mask.
- Remove the mask using the straps and from behind.
- Properly dispose of a used disposable mask.
- Bring backup masks on your trip and to the parks.
- Guests who wear glasses (and sunglasses) may have extra concerns about getting that perfect fit so the glasses do not fog up upon exhaling.
- Use a mask with a nose bridge that fits over the nose.
- Get a good seal over the nose to avoid fogging up glasses.
- Place your glasses over the top of the mask.
- If you still have issues with fogging, try sports or medical tape to seal the top of the mask to your nose and cheeks. Test this at home before using it at the theme parks.
- Check with your optometrist before using any anti-fog products, soaps or shaving cream to make sure they will not damage protective coatings on the lenses and void any warranty. Some optometrists sell a glasses-safe spray to prevent fogging.
- Bring a resealable bag to keep your mask dry on water rides or store your mask for washing.
- Remember that wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing.
- Chew some gum to keep your breath fresh.
- Slip straws under the mask to drink when you cannot locate a safe area to remove the mask to drink.
- Take joy in getting to remove the mask at the end of your day! Ahhh!
- Take extra time in your skincare routine to prevent breakouts from masks. Wash your face before and after wearing a mask, and use moisturizer.
Tips for Children and Masks
Since children under 12 (and 2 and over) are not eligible to be vaccinated, you should plan for them to wear a mask. You might be able to understand why they need to wear the mask at this time, but your small tadpole might need some help with this concept. (OK, a lot of help in some cases!) Try your best to make it fun and positive (and keep your real opinions to yourself if you are not a fan). Model positive mask attitudes and your tadpole will hopfully get on board with it.
Our toddler, Lily, really struggled with wearing a face covering at first. But she agreed to wear a mask if it had Minnie Mouse on it. She helped pick out some Disney masks and practiced playing in them at home. Now that she understands that the mask allows her to go to theme parks to have fun, she's on board. It's not always easy to manage kids and masks, but we know to take frequent mask breaks in appropriate areas to drink or have snacks. That makes it easier to keep the mask on when we need to.
Here are a few tips for getting your children to wear masks:
- Try different fabrics and styles (ear loop versus elastic bands or ties that go behind the head).
- Use kid-size masks for tadpoles.
- Consider kid-size mask accessories such as ear savers, mask cord adjusters, headbands or hats with buttons sewn on them to take pressure off the ears and get the best fit.
- Got ears? Here's a hopful hack. If the ear loops begin to bother you or your tadpole, loop them around an ear headband to take pressure off your own ears.
- Practice wearing masks at home.
- Find fun fabrics that display their favorite characters.
- Make a story about wearing the mask.
- Make the mask part of a game of pretend, such as a secret identity.
- Get your tadpole's doll or stuffed animal a matching mask.
- Help your tadpole teach their doll or animal why it's important to wear the mask.
- Choose a breathable material.
- Consider the weather when choosing the mask.
- Have backups in case you lose the mask or get it dirty.
- Teach children to dispose of the mask safely when using a disposable mask, or where to put a reusable mask for safekeeping until it can be washed.
- Keep a close eye on your kids and utilize frequent snacks and water breaks to allow them a moment to breathe freely.
If you are not able to make your own masks, you can find many toadally cute masks online. You can purchase fun, themed masks in the parks. But definitely arrive with your own or you won't make it through security at most parks. Plus you may want to match your outfit to the mask! It makes wearing a face covering so much more bearable if you look good.
What About Mask Policies for Guests with Special Needs?
We’re seeing a lot of questions about tadpoles with special needs and masks. We do not yet have all the answers and the situation is rapidly changing, but we know that exceptions can vary per park and new guidelines pop up all of the time. Contact the parks and hotels you plan to visit to get specific answers to your questions.
If someone in your party has a disability or medical problem that prevents them from wearing a mask all day, you can request accommodations at Universal. You must arrive in a face covering and bring a face shield with you. Hop into Guest Services or Guest Relations. With accommodations, you may wear a face shield, although shields are not permitted on certain attractions. You would have to switch into a face covering to ride. Guests who receive accommodations will receive a wristband at Universal. Face shields must cover the nose and mouth, wrap around the sides of the face and extend to below the chin.
Disney World requires that all guests 2 and up wear a face covering in indoor locations, plus a few select other areas. There is no accommodation for people who cannot wear masks. Guests who cannot wear a mask are asked to reschedule their trip for a later time.
At LEGOLAND California, exceptions are made for people who are hearing impaired, and companions who are communicating with them. No note is required. If you have a disability that prevents you from wearing a face covering and have questions about the policies and how they may impact you or those in your party, please contact LEGOLAND Guest Services prior to your visit. You must bring a note from a physician or qualified health care provider stating that the party member has a medical or mental health condition or developmental disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. Those exempted from the requirement must remain at least 6 feet away from guests not in their party and wear wristbands while in the resort so that LEGOLAND personnel know not to ask them to reapply face coverings.
At the San Diego Zoo, talk to an employee if a member of your party cannot wear a mask. People with a disability may wear a face shield with a cloth drape at the bottom instead.
If you or someone in your party is hearing impaired and reads lips, you can find masks that have clear panels so the mouth is visible. At Disney, the face covering may have an integrated transparent plastic panel to aid in viewing the wearer's mouth. The face covering must be made of fabric with a solid plastic panel that contains no openings. The panel must be attached to the fabric on all sides using tight-knit stitching. The covering must meet all other face covering requirements.
Wearing a Mask with Sensory Issues
In terms of autism or sensory issues, the best way to prepare for wearing a mask is to model that behavior, explain that it is a rule, take baby steps and practice, practice, practice. Be sure to find the most comfortable mask for the individual. Each person is different. But many people with ASD like to know the plan and what to expect. In this case, you'll need to make the unfamiliar — wearing a mask — a more familiar and expected part of the routine.
Look for a mask with a preferred character on it. If you cannot make one, you can find a large selection online. Choose a mask made from a soft, comfortable fabric. Try a jersey knit (T-shirt) material (even if you are choosing a different material for other family members). A mask that ties in the back may be more comfortable than one with elastic ear loops. Use mask accessories that take the pressure off ears, such as ear savers or a soft headband or hat with buttons sewn on it to wrap the ear loops around.
You may need to start with just holding the mask and slowly work up to wearing it for short periods of time. It can help to wear the mask while distracted with a fun activity.
Make a mask-wearing social story. You can even find some free examples online to explain that we need to wear a mask when we go places because of COVID-19. Basically, your social story can cover these points:
- People in our family and community are wearing masks.
- My mask keeps me safe.
- My mask keeps you safe.
- Your mask keeps me safe.
- There are many different masks.
- We can buy a mask or make our own.
- We can decorate the mask.
- It's important to wash our hands before putting on the mask and when we remove it.
- The mask covers our nose, mouth and chin.
- The mask might not feel comfortable at first.
- With practice, we can get used to the mask.
- We can wash the fabric mask.
- We can throw away a disposable mask.
- Next time, we can wear a new mask.
- Wearing a mask keeps everyone safe.
If you are anything like us frogs, you are hopping excited to visit the theme parks. Do you have any other questions about our tips for wearing masks in theme parks? Please let us know in the comments section below. Don't froget, your favorite froggy friends can help you get a jump on saving money on discount theme park tickets and hotels in Orlando, Los Angeles, San Diego areas (plus many more!).