Bob Chapek appears to suggest that masks may be gone at Walt Disney World this summer

May 13, 2021 in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Thursday May 13, 2021 5:05pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney CEO Bob Chapek this afternoon commented on theme park capacity at Walt Disney World and his expectations for the reduction of COVID-19 restrictions.

Bob has indicated that capacity has been raised in response to recent CDC updates, and today's news of the CDC change to recommendations in regard to masks is "big news." He went on to say how no-masks would make Florida a more pleasant experience in the summer. However, he did not give specifics of attendance number increases or exactly when he expects Walt Disney World to make changes to its mask policies.

Chapek also went on to say that 80% of Cast Members who have been asked to return to work have done so.

Here is the excerpt from the earnings call relating to masks and capacity at Walt Disney World.

"In terms of the parks, and when we're going to sort of be able to raise our capacity limits, we've actually already started that, given the guidance that just came today, from the CDC, and earlier guidance that we got from the governor of Florida, we've already started to increase our capacities, those obviously today's guidance that we got from the CDC in terms of those that were vaccinated do not necessarily need to wear masks anymore, both outdoors and indoors. Is very big news for us, particularly if anybody's been in Florida in the middle of the summer with a mask on. That could be quite daunting. So we think that's going to make for an even more pleasant experience and we believe that as we're now bringing back a lot of people back to work, that it's going to be an even bigger catalyst for growth in attendance, and we've been quite pleased to date."

We expect to hear from Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings late tomorrow that the county has reached its goal of a 50% vaccination level and will drop its mask requirement for everyone when outdoors. This may be the point that Disney feels that it can follow that guidance and drop masks for all guests at least outdoors, and may be the reason for Chapek's comments about being in Florida during the summer.

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SteveAZee5 days ago

It seems like the idea, in restaurants, is to keep the spread local to the table as much as possible, conceding that you're eating and drinking there so... particulates all over. Moving from door to table or table to restroom allows you to 'spread the wealth' across all the tables in between... so I sort of understand the logic of maskless at the dining table and masked everywhere else.

Chi845 days ago

I see almost no masking in restaurants. People wear them walking to and from their table but don’t wear them at all while seated. It’s just the nature of restaurants. I’m not sure how much good mask mandates are doing in restaurants. The servers do wear them so maybe that helps.

SteveAZee5 days ago

I suppose that's possible, certainly in broader applications. Having mask mandates under controlled environments likely to cause spread (such as airplanes, restaurants, etc), that seems to work. Trying to enforce a mask mandate for the public at large seems difficult.

Tom P.5 days ago

I do look at the comparative data. Which is why I think mask mandates should all be lifted. There is very little, if any, data to suggest that mask mandates make any appreciable difference. Note that I am referring to mask mandates, not to masks themselves. Effectiveness of masks themselves is an entirely different matter. But having mandates in place does not seem to make any significant difference in outcomes.

Ayla5 days ago

Zero chance.

Trauma6 days ago

You make a great point here about a clearly defined goal. It makes it easier to determine success or failure. It also makes it easier to then replicate the goal in other similar settings.

MansionButler846 days ago

A goal is better than a vague, “maybe someday,” at least.

mikejs786 days ago

We will see how well that works here in MA. We have a universal school mask mandate until October 1. After Oct 1, schools can remove the mask requirement for vaccinated students and staff only, and only if the school reaches an 80% vaccination threshold.

Trauma6 days ago

Exactly. We can not aim at a target that does not exist. We need a goal. A person who says I want to lose 5 pounds is much more likely to take action that a person who says I need to lose some weight. Yes they are both goals but one is more clearly defined and therefore more likely to be acted upon.

MansionButler846 days ago

They don’t WANT to keep the masks, obviously. At the latest, I’m sure they go away for good when respiratory illness season ends next spring.

Tinkwings6 days ago

And while doing so, unless you are all by yourself.....

Trauma6 days ago

At then end of the day when Florida’s numbers drop down to May/June levels Disney will be forced to either change policy or lose business.

Chi846 days ago

Based on their past actions, I personally would not be comfortable predicting what either the CDC or Disney will do regarding masks in the next few months. I would caution anyone planning a trip to take any such predictions with a huge grain of salt.

Touchdown6 days ago

If/When Florida goes to yellow (moderate transmission) then I think Disney will consider lifting the order, however Florida is still very much in the red (severe) range and more then double the upper limit of orange (substantial.) They are unlikely to get there prior to 10/1. Disneyland, more specifically Orange County, CA however, may very well get there before 10/1. Watch to see what happens there to determine Disney’s plan.