Disney World, SeaWorld Loosen Mask Requirements

With the country continuing to reopen as COVID-related numbers start dwindling, some of the biggest amusement parks in the land are starting to relax the max mandates they've had in place. Following Universal Studios Orlando's decision to no longer require masks while outdoors at the amusement park, Walt Disney World and SeaWorld have made similar decisions.

According to a report by the Orlando Sentinel, Disney World will now only require masks for indoor spaces and restaurants, except while eating or drinking. At SeaWorld, masks aren't required indoors or outdoors if you've been vaccinated. A spokesperson for the company, however, tells the Sentinel that amusement park workers won't ask for proof of a vaccine.

"Face coverings will no longer be required for guests at SeaWorld Orlando ... who are fully vaccinated in accordance with CDC guidance. We will not require proof of vaccine, but ask our guests to respectfully comply with our revised policy," SeaWorld spokeswoman Lori Cherry said in a statement obtained by the paper.

Disney has also been increasing capacity at its parks across the country. Though the company won't confirm how many people they're admitting into their parks, the Sentinel reports it's over the 35-percent threshold Disney previously implemented.

"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," Disney CEO Bob Chapek said on Disney's investor call this past week.

He added, "It's 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. So I think you're going to see an immediate increase in the number of folks that were able to admit into our parks through our reservation systems that we recently implemented. So we're very, very excited about that."

On Thursday, the CDC essentially removed all recommendations it had in place for those who have been fully vaccinated. "Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance," a bulletin from the governmental agency reads.

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Cover photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images