Unless you work in a profession where masks are the norm, wearing a mask for an extended period of time is probably new to you (like it is for us!).
Here's some tips and things you should know about masks before you head off to Walt Disney World.
Masks are required
You probably already know this - but if you're just starting planning a vacation, masks are required if you plan to visit the Walt Disney World Resort.
This includes parks (even when getting PhotoPass photos), resorts, shops, and even restaurants when you're not seated and eating.
And this isn't just a suggestion. It's an enforced policy.
Are there any places or times when masks aren't required?
Yes, there are a few. Here's where:
When actively eating or drinking
This one seems like a no brainer - of course you have to take off your mask to eat or drink. However you must also be stationary.
That means you can't walk around and eat and drink (something that people are used to doing, especially at the Food and Wine Festival over at Epcot).
You need to find a spot to either sit or stand - socially distanced at least 6 feet away from others.
After you are seated, you may take off your mask. But, anytime you get up from your table (for example, to run to grab condiments or napkins), a mask must be worn.
Many of the Quick Service locations also have outdoor seating, which is great for people trying to focus on that when dining.
The outdoor seating areas for most quick service restaurants are also available even when the restaurant isn't open, and we've had good luck finding available tables to sit and drink our water at during the day.
Note: tables are labeled to indicate appropriate social distancing guidelines. Guests may not sit at tables labeled "not available."
Like to take a dip in the pool while at Walt Disney World? Masks aren't required while in the water.
Inside each park there are spots called "Relaxation Stations" where masks are not required.
These spots are typically unused dining locations with tables spaced out approximately 10 feet to allow guests to temporarily remove their masks.
These spots are a mix of both indoor and outdoor locations.
Access is controlled with a max capacity that is enforced, and what is nice about these spots is that you don't have to be eating or drinking to use one.
Because of that capacity, though, Disney asks that guests limit their time in these spots to 30 minutes.
Magic Kingdom Relaxation Stations
- Tomorowland - Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant (outdoor but covered, no air conditioning)
- Frontierland at the Golden Oak Outpost (partial shade, no covering)
- Fantasyland at Pete's Silly Sideshow (indoors and air conditioned)
Animal Kingdom Relaxation Stations
- Asia - across from Up! A Great Bird Adventure (outdoor but covered, no air conditioning)
- Discovery Island - Pizzafari (indoor and air conditioned)
Epcot Relaxation Stations
- United Kingdom - next to Rose & Crown and Yorkshire Fish Shoppe (outdoor with some umbrellas)
- Norway - inside Akershus restaurant (indoor and air conditioned)
- Future World - between Mission: SPACE and Test Track (outdoor with some umbrellas, limited chairs)
Hollywood Studios Relaxation Stations
- Galaxy's Edge next to Rise of the Resistance (outdoor with some umbrellas)
- Animation Courtyard inside Star Wars Launch Bay (both outdoor and covered area and an indoor and air conditioned area; limited seating indoor but you can sit on the carpet)
By now, most of us probably have some experience with masks, but there's definitely some things we have found that have helped us ease into the transition of wearing them all day while visiting a Walt Disney World park.
Practice at home
Whenever possible, we recommend you practice wearing a mask at home...but don't just wear it around the house. It really does help to understand what to expect if you can replicate the conditions you'll find at Walt Disney World, at least as much as you possibly can.
Try going outside in the heat and walking (and walking).
The goal is to recreate some of what you'll be doing when you get to the parks. It won't be the same, but it might help to ease any anxiety you might have about what it will be like.
Try several styles
A few months ago, your design options for masks was a lot more limited than what you see today.
That makes it so much easier to find a mask that works for you.
Not every face is the same, so it makes sense that not every brand of mask will fit each person's face the same.
For example, we've tried several different brands of disposable masks, and each one fit across our faces differently.
Our favorite disposable mask style (affiliate link).
For short trips to a grocery store, a less-than-perfect feeling mask isn't as big of a deal.
But, if you are going to be wearing something for 8+ hours of the day, you'll definitely want to make sure that the mask you have on is the safest and most comfortable for you.
Bring extras with you into the parks
Because your mask is up against your face all day it doesn't take too long for them to get sweaty and gross.
Plus, if you get stuck in the rain it could also get damp. Eww.
The best thing to do is to bring multiple masks for each person, for each day of your trip and then pack a spare (or 2 or 3) in your park bag.
Store your masks safely
When handling your masks you want to stay as safe as possible, which means keeping your clean masks away from the dirty ones.
Unless you are using a disposable mask that you can just toss in the trashcan when you remove it, bring a bag or Ziploc to safely store your dirty masks from your clean ones.
Plan how you'll clean your masks
If you'll be needing to wash masks while you're here, be thinking about how you'll do that.
There are laundry facilities at all of the resorts that you can use or hand-washing is always an option. Just make sure you pack the supplies necessary if that is your plan.
Protect your ears
Wearing masks with ear loops for extended periods of time can make your ears hurt.
Here's some of the most popular ideas we've seen to prevent a mask from rubbing.
Important: no matter what you use you'll want to make sure that it still allows your mask to rest securely against your face.
- Ear savers - instead of looping your ear loops around your ears, you loop them around a piece of fabric or plastic that lays against the back of your head/neck. These come in all different styles and materials, so if one doesn't work for you it might be worth it to try another.
- Modified hat - much like an ear saver, you can purchase or modify hats yourself by adding something for the ear loops to rest against. Most that we've seen have used buttons sewn to the side.
- Modified mouse ears and headbands - just like hats, you can also modify mouse ears and headbands to hold your ear loops.
Etsy is a great place to find ear savers and a modified hats and headbands in a wide variety of styles.
Leave your gaiter at home
Gaiters and scarves are popular options for face coverings, but they aren't allowed at Walt Disney World. We have seen that rule be a lot more lax at Disney Springs, but expect to be asked to change into a different style if you wear one to the parks.
Consider a small fan
Small, handheld fans have often been a popular park bag staple, but some people that haven't ever packed them before might find them handy, now.
While we haven't personally used one while wearing a mask, we've heard from several readers that fans like the ones below are great because they keep your hands free.
Get a suggested fan on Amazon (affiliate link).
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
One of the things we quickly found was that wearing a mask makes it more difficult to stay hydrated.
Back in the olden days when we could visit Walt Disney World without a mask, we almost always had a bottle of water in our hand that we drank from as we moved through the parks.
But now, if you want to remove your mask to eat or drink, Disney requires that you be stationary.
That means you'll need to be a lot more intentional about taking time to stop, find a safe place to sit (like at one of the Relaxation Stations) and drink some water.
Add mask-free time into your daily plans
We have never been fans of touring plans that force people to plan their trips down to the minute.
But trust us on this - right now you need to be intentional about planning regularly schedule opportunities to un-mask for a bit.
Meals are a great opportunity for that, and for some people that may be enough.
But for many others, it won't.
So, while in years past you might have drank your bottle of water while standing in line, instead you may find your days a lot more manageable if you opt to drink it while seated at a Quick Service location or while at a Relaxation Station.
If you've never taken mid-day breaks before, that also may be something to consider now.
Just be sure that you allow the time necessary for your party to safely remove their masks.
Our experience with masks at Disney World
Knowing the rules is great but hearing first-hand on how it works can be helpful, too.
We were really curious as to what Disney World with a mask would be like, but we can honestly say it wasn't awful or terrible or impossible.
It certainly wasn't ideal, but you know what? It also wasn't that bad.
On our first full-day in the parks while wearing masks we encountered a heat index of 105 which means a blazing sun and high, high, HIGH humidity.
It was one of those days where as soon as you walk out of your air conditioned room you need a shower to wash off the sweat and funk of the day.
Having a face mask definitely meant that under it our faces were hotter. But with occasional safe breaks from wearing one, it was also manageable.
Does it ruin the magic?
This is the million dollar question to lots and lots of Disney fans near and far.
We were worried about it, too.
Would visiting Disney World while wearing a mask ruin the magic?
You know what? It absolutely didn't.
Disney has done a lot to help ease the transition between how things were and how they are now all while keeping the magic alive ... and it shows.
The Cast Members - as is so often the case - go above and beyond to keep guests as safe as possible while still providing a magical experience.
And while it was a bit jarring to see all Guests and Cast Members in a mask, after a while it just felt ... normal.
Listen - we totally understand that not everyone wants to travel right now and we most definitely aren't suggesting that you do.
Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make that decision for yourself and your family. But if one of your concerns was about the magic at Walt Disney World you should know that it is most definitely still there.