This summer, guests have been able to visit Disney’s renowned Florida theme parks without wearing masks in most cases. A rise of new cases in Florida might put a stop to that benefit before the end of the summer.

On Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported more than 73,000 cases for the week, a sevenfold rise since the state began publishing case counts weekly in June. With average daily case numbers reaching peak January levels, it wouldn’t be surprising to see limitations tighten rather than ease, as we’ve seen in previous weeks. In summary, you might want to bring some additional masks along with your mouse ears on your next trip to Disney World.

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Keeping my fingers crossed
This summer, theme parks in Central Florida have been attempting to return to normalcy. Temperature checks have been eliminated at Disney World, Comcast’s Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Entertainment, allowing them to boost daily passenger capacity limits. Disney is the only park that presently requires customers to make prior park reservations, as SeaWorld recently stopped its crowd-control technology.

Face covering requirements have also expanded significantly since shortly before Memorial Day weekend. Visitors to Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld Orlando were first permitted to remove their masks when outside, but the rule was later updated to enable vaccinated customers to keep them off in ride waits and on the attractions themselves. At the moment, the only time a facial covering is needed at any of the three main theme park operators is when guests are on the monorail, ferry boat, or Disney resort bus to or from one of the four gated attractions at Disney World.

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We’re already seeing limitations reintroduced, even in areas where new COVID-19 cases aren’t exploding like they are in Florida. The original Universal Studios Hollywood in California, owned by Comcast, has reinstated the need for facial coverings in all interior areas.

Florida is not the same as California. The state permitted its theme parks to open nearly a year before the rest of the country’s most populated state. However, as the Delta variety spreads, Disney, Comcast, and SeaWorld will be forced to respond to the issue if case numbers continue to rise beyond the current six-month peak.

Nobody wants to see a mask requirement. Guests like the ability to choose their own exposure levels. Theme park owners encourage guests who do not wear masks because they spend more time in the gated attractions and spend more money on food and refreshments. However, with Florida vaccination rates falling and shot approvals for children under the age of 12 still months away, the outcome may not be in the hands of theme park enthusiasts or the travel and tourism stocks that run them.

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