Face Masks in Disney – Tips for Safety and Comfort

Disney cast members in easily identifiable, brightly colored shirts will be walking throughout Disney Springs to answer guest questions about new health and safety protocols for the shopping, dining and entertainment district, which reopens May 20, 2020, at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Disney)

As you may have heard by now, guests visiting Disney Springs, and other popular Orlando area tourist attractions, are required to wear masks as of May 2020. While face masks in Disney have become a heated debate, one thing that remains non-debatable is that as a private property, these tourist destinations are within their rights to require this. If you’re planning a visit, get your mask ready to go! Here are tips for safety and comfort while wearing your face mask during your Disney Springs visit!

Wear a face mask in Disney like these from ShopDisney.com
Source: ShopDisney.com

Why masks?

Wearing a cloth mask in public to help slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 is recommend by the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and required by many business establishments.

The CDC has issued guidance on how to wear and care for cloth masks (1):

Proper fit of cloth face coverings:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be cleaned, laundered and machine-dried without damage or change to shape

Washing and cleaning cloth face coverings:

  • Wash routinely depending on the frequency of use with regular laundry detergent in a hot water temperature
  • The Mayo Clinic recommends that cloth face coverings be washed after every day of use

Storing a cloth face ask:

  • Do not place in a purse or pocket for later use
  • To store or carry the face mask, carefully fold it so the contaminated outside is folded inward and into itself
  • Store face masks in a clean or unused paper bag, and immediately wash hands or sanitize

Safety first!

Here are some basic tips for safety when applying your mask from the World Health Organization (WHO) (2).

  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water

Logistics

Many questions have popped up since these terms have been set in place for visiting places like Disney Springs. Below are suggestions to help you decide on the answer that best applies.

Won’t I be too hot in a mask?

Most people will feel hot in the Orlando summer sun regardless of wearing a mask. If you are particularly bothered by the heat, dip into a store or eatery that is air conditioned and/or in the shade for a brief respite. Limit the time of your visit as to better tolerate wearing a mask in the heat. Consider visiting in cooler evening hours when wearing the mask is more tolerable. Homemade masks made with 100% cotton will feel warmer than a disposable medical grade mask. Medical grade masks (not the N95) are lighter and specifically made to help prevent transmission of respiratory droplets and are a great option if you have access to these. Additionally, many athletic companies use moisture-wicking material for masks intended for running and exercise. Avoid synthetics and filters as they will make masks hotter. T-shirts and cotton woven sheets can provide as face mask material as well. Try several mask varieties prior to your visit to determine which will work best for your comfort level. You may decide to bring all the above so that you can change during your visit to the mask that feels best. Use a wet cloth or cooling cloth to cool your neck and forehead when you feel too hot and cannot remove your mask.

How can I make my mask more comfortable?

Aside from trialing different fabrics as noted above, you can also use ear clips to position hooks to hold your mask in place without the pressure around the back of your ears. Mask with ties as opposed to bands are also good for this. Take care of your skin under your mask with a moisturizer. Limit your overall time out in public and at places where you need to wear a mask.

What if my mask becomes dirty or contaminated?

Bring back-up masks so that you can change them frequently should your original mask become soiled or contaminated. Only touch your mask after you have washed your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds or after using a hand santizer that is at least 60% alcohol. When you are adjusting your mask, do so by touching the sides, straps and ties rather than the front of the mask in the area around your nose and mouth.

What if I do not want to wear a mask?

Feel free to avoid public places that require wearing a mask.

What if I forget my mask?

Many have reported that Disney Springs will provide a mask to those entering who do not have one so long as the guest passes all other health screening measures. Similarly, masks are found to be sold at Universal’s City Walk in single and three-pack packages.

What if I don’t have a cloth face mask?

You can make your own (see video below) or purchase a face mask from many different online vendors including ShopDisney.com and Etsy. At Disney Springs, guests have found masks for sale at Vera Bradley, American Threads, and soon Volcom (while supplies last).

Will wearing a mask increase my risk for overheating?

If you are at an increased risk of heat stroke because of underlying medical conditions, extra caution should be taken. For most healthy individuals, adverse health effects while wearing your face mask in the heat can be prevented with proper hydration (drink more water), choosing a breathable fabric, and avoiding wearing the mask for a long period of time. Take breaks and rest as needed. As always, it is important to discuss your health concerns with your doctor as this will be present in day-to-day life and not solely at Disney Springs.

What about children and face masks?

Children under the age of 2 years old should not be masked. To protect your infant when out in public, consider using a baby carrier or sling as an alternative means of protection. For children older than 2 years old, a cloth mask will likely be most comfortable. Follow the same CDC guidelines for fit so that your child’s mask is not too tight or too big and covers their mouth and nose. Remind children not to touch their face even while wearing the mask. Practice at home before going out so that it becomes familiar, comfortable and routine. To make masks more appealing to children, try different methods for securing the mask (ties, rubber clips, elastic, etc) and different designs or colors to personalize the mask. Bring along personalized paper bags for your child’s mask for storage while eating. This is a new practice for all of us. In some cases, simply telling your child a mask will allow you to visit your favorite Disney store or restaurant may be enough to encourage compliance. For others, a bit of persuasion may be needed such as providing a mask with your child’s favorite character on the front or presenting it as a gift or part of a full outfit (like those from ShopDisney.com and on Etsy)! Visiting at off peak hours when it is cooler or less crowded is best for those who will struggle with this. At the end of the day, you know your child best. If this is a challenge for your child, consider delaying your visit until you’ve had time to work on the introduction and compliance with wearing a mask.

Wear Face masks in Disney from ShopDisney.com
Disney face masks are available for pre order on ShopDisney.com. Source: ShopDisney.com

Lastly, be positive!

If you have decided to visit Disney Springs or the like that requires guests to wear a mask, know that these current measures were put in place to protect you as the guest and the cast members working to keep businesses open during this unprecedented time. Masks are not the entire answer, but rather a small piece to the puzzle to solve this challenge of resuming social interaction and everyday life privileges in the wake of a novel (new and unknown) virus capable of doing serious damage. We are all in this together! If the magic of Disney means enough to you that you have decided to comply with these terms of business, then that is a decision we support! Masks are temporary, but the spirit and magic of the Walt Disney World resort is a permanent fixture. Times like these remind us of the deep connection we all have to this very special and happy place. Let’s share in the small wins as we look forward to more reopenings from The Walt Disney Company.

 

Discuss your personal health concerns and risk with your health care provider when planning travel. Stay up to date with recommendations on safety measures by visiting CDC.gov.

Jamie Lee McIntyre MS RDN is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and contributor to The Kingdom Insider for Disney food, nutrition and wellness - related topics. She is a practicing Dietitian with over 11 years of experience, and is a nutrition communications consultant providing content online and on air in broadcast media. You can find her online (www.JamieLeeRDN.com), at the finish line of a Run Disney race, or in the parks scanning menus, reading labels and trying new foods!