Some days we get to talk about the yummiest theme park treats or our favorite roller coasters. Today, we are uncovering a topic that makes everyone a little nervous — masks. Not the fun costume masks, but the face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many theme parks and hotel properties require employees and all guests to wear masks to keep everyone safe during this period. Whether you currently wear the mask in your daily outings or will be gearing up to wear the masks on vacation, there’s still a lot to learn. Wearing a mask for a quick trip to the air-conditioned store is not quite the same as wearing a mask all day in heat and humidity and on rides. Hop along to learn some tips for wearing masks at theme parks.
Hopfully, we answer any questions you have. We’ll discuss individual theme park rules for face coverings and help you navigate this new territory. We might even share a few tips to make this necessary step a little more fun. We have a toddler, Lily, and a niece with autism, so we are turning over a few lily pads to find the answers and figure out what works best for them too. Let's jump in!
Our Top Tips for Wearing Masks at the Theme Parks
Having to wear a mask is good news for keeping everyone safe, but we get it. In a perfect world, we wouldn't be wearing them to theme park or for any fun activity. Do your best to keep a sense of humor about the masks. Let's take a look on the bright side! Ladies can save money and effort by skipping lipstick and some makeup. The makeup makes your mask dirty quicker, so you might want to skip it. You can make faces at people who annoy you and they will have no idea (no eye rolling, though!). I think I will stick out my tongue for all of the photos and my wife will be none the wiser. You can save on sunscreen, but 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! Remember that crazy year?
We are making history here, folks. And another positive: You can still scream in delight on thrill rides or shout "hello" to Mickey through your mask! So there's that.
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. (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.)
Which Theme Parks Require Masks?
We expect this to be a fluid subject as time goes on, especially since government rules on masks keep changing. In California, facial coverings are required by state order. In Florida, Orange County mayor signed an executive order that makes it mandatory for people to wear facial coverings as of June 20.
As more parks open, the situation will continue to change and evolve. The bottom line is to check with each theme park before visiting to uncover the latest news on face coverings because park policies and laws can vary. Some parks, such as Universal, Disney World and SeaWorld require face coverings. LEGOLAND Florida, on the other hand, does not require face coverings when outside (although LEGOLAND does now require guests 8 and up to wear them indoors). A theme park’s mask policy might fit your family’s needs and even sway you to visit their park if your goals or family's needs are more aligned with their policy.
The theme parks in Florida are open before than the ones in California, so we we have more specific deets on those Orlando theme park changes. If you'll be visiting Southern California, here's a look at what to expect when the California theme parks reopen.
Mask Requirements in Florida
Here are the Disney World reopening requirements for face coverings:
- They must fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face (that would mean face shields are not compliant unless you have an accommodation).
- 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 and open-chin triangle bandanas are not acceptable.
- Face coverings must allow the guest to be hands-free.
- Face coverings required for age 2 and up.
- Costume masks are not appropriate and all masks must be compliant with existing rules and dress code guidelines.
- Face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing.
- Keep an eye out for the high-energy squads that will keep guests compliant (we spotted them in bright yellow shirts at Disney Springs).
Here are the Universal Orlando reopening requirements for face coverings:
- Masks must cover the nose and mouth and be secured under the chin.
- Material must be at least two-ply.
- Masks required for age 3 and up.
- Costume masks and veils are not permitted.
- Face covering are available for purchase in one size.
- You may remove the mask for eating and drinking while seated.
- Hop into Guest Relations if you have a disability that prevents you from wearing a mask.
- At Universal's Volcano Bay water park, you must wear a mask when going through security, entering the park, and when at restaurants and in gift shops.
- It is encouraged to wear a mask when walking around the water park.
- Remove the mask when swimming and on slides.
SeaWorld Orlando requires face coverings on guests ages 2 and up. Any style of face covering works, as long as it is secure and covers the nose and mouth. You may also opt to wear face shields, but bring a backup mask for rides. If you froget, we noticed an employee was handing out free disposable masks before you entered the temperature screening tent.
LEGOLAND Florida initially did not require face coverings, but they were encouraged. Now that the city of Winter Haven, where LEGOLAND is located, has changed its mask ordinance, LEGOLAND will comply with that. LEGOLAND will ask guests ages 8 and up to put on a face covering when inside buildings and attractions.
Mask Requirements in California
All theme parks in California (including LEGOLAND) will require masks per state law. Most theme parks have not reopened, but they each offer their own rules for face coverings on their websites.
The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park reopened June 20. Both require masks at all times except when seated at a restaurant for eating and drinking.
At the Disneyland Resort, including Downtown Disney , which reopened July 9, all guests and employees must wear face coverings. 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. Guests may remove masks to eat or drink.
Wearing Masks on Rides
We can't have masks flying all over the place, so we are considering whether our masks are ready for roller coasters and water rides. We've already tested our ear loop masks on mild roller coasters and they slipped down our noses, so having a tight fit or an option of a mask that ties behind the head seems like a frogtastic plan.
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 backup. (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.) At Universal and SeaWorld, you may remove your mask once seated for water rides. However, it's important to stow it well so you do not lose it during the ride. Bring a plastic bag to keep it dry.
Where Can I Take off My Mask?
All of the theme parks that require face coverings allow guests to remove them for eating and drinking and while sitting at dining tables. The masks are required for dry activities at certain hotels and theme parks, but are not required while swimming. Disney World, Universal and SeaWorld all have mask-free relaxation zones in each theme park.
Look for U-Rest Area Signs at Universal. At Islands of Adventure, the U-Rest Area is in front of the park and at the former Sinbad's Theater. At Universal Studios Florida, take a breather in the Central Park area and Fear Factor Theater. Guests can take a break and get a breath of fresh air in these zones. You can stay with your party and remember to stay at least six feet away from other guests. Seating is available and there is no time limit.
At SeaWorld Orlando, there are three relaxation areas by Wild Arctic, the Sea Lion & Otter Theater and across from Shark Encounter.
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 ear loop masks did not hold up to the task, unfortunately, but we're on a mission to find what works best!)
- Wash your hands before putting on a mask.
- 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 mask using the straps and from behind.
- Wash or sanitize hands after touching or removing the mask.
- Properly dispose of a used disposable mask.
- Have a separate bag to store used cloth masks before they can be washed.
- Have a plan for washing reusable masks.
- 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 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.
- Bring a resealable bag to keep your mask dry on water rides.
- Remember that wearing a mask is not a substitute for social distancing.
- Chew some gum to keep your breath fresh.
- Take joy in getting to remove the mask at the end of your day! Ahhh!
Tips for Children and Masks
If you plan to visit Disney World or Universal, your tadpoles 2 and up will need to be masked. You might be able to understand why you 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).
Here are a few tips for getting your children to wear masks:
- Try different fabrics and styles (ear loop vs 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 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 back-ups 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 Special Needs?
We’re seeing a lot of questions about tadpoles with special needs and masks. We do not yet have all the answers, but we know that exceptions can vary per park. 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 Orlando. You must arrive in a face covering and bring a face shield with you. Hop into Guest Services or Guest Relations. With accommodation, 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. They do not have an accommodation for people who cannot wear masks.
Masks are required for ages 2 and up and all California theme parks once they reopen. At LEGOLAND California, exceptions are made for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, 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 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 medical or mental health condition or developmental disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. Those exempted from the requirement will be asked to remain at least six feet away from guests not in their party and to wear wristbands while in the resort so that LEGOLAND personnel know not to ask them to re-apply face coverings.
Part of planning a vacation in an uncertain time means recognizing that we may have to make hard choices during this period. If someone in your party has breathing issues without the mask, is immunocompromised or in a high-risk group for complications related to COVID-19, it may not be the right time to hop to the theme parks just yet.
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.
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.
- We wash our hands before putting on the mask.
- 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 wash our hands when we touch our mask or remove it.
- We can wash the fabric mask.
- We can throw away a disposable mask.
- We can wear a new mask next time.
- 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!).