After more than a year of theme park closures, limited reopenings, and health and safety measures, things have been changing very quickly in just the last few weeks at theme parks, especially at the two big parks in Florida, Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World. Universal has been at the forefront of reducing restrictions. When they announced that masks were no longer necessary for guests to wear outdoors, Walt Disney World followed suit just a few hours later. But now Universal has made the biggest move yet at eliminating pandemic restrictions, as now vaccinated guests no longer need to wear masks at all.
Rumors started yesterday that Universal Orlando Resort was going to make this change and then on Friday the UOR website officially changed. Effective immediately, if you're fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask at any time inside the parks. Unvaccinated guests are still expected to wear masks indoors. However, as the park itself admits, there will be no verification of vaccination status, so let's be honest, masks are done inside the park.
In addition to the removal of mask requirements. Social distancing is now no longer required either. Previously, guests had to keep six feet of distance between parties, before that was reduced to three feet. Now there is only a suggestion that parties should try to keep their distance from each other, but no specific distance is required or even recommended.
The last time Universal made a big change like this we saw Walt Disney World follow suit in short order, so it will be interesting to see if that happens again. Since both resorts are working from the same guidelines, from both the state of Florida and the CDC, it would certainly make sense that they would have the same rules regarding masks.
At the same time, it would be interesting to see what would happen if Disney World did not make that change just yet. Because verifying vaccination status would be a complicated, and controversial thing to do, Disney could make the decision to continue to require all guests to wears masks indoors in order to be sure that unvaccinated people do so.
While there are certainly people ready to be done with masks there are clearly also those who feel like things are moving too fast and aren't quite ready to leave masks at home yet. If Walt Disney World kept its current mask policy it could actually appeal to many guests. You could end up with guests choosing which resort to visit based on how they felt about masks.
However, even if Walt Disney World doesn't change its mask policy today, it seems clear that the policy will change soon. Things at the Florida parks are going to be back to normal before we know it.