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A Message about Disney Parks from Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pamela Hymel

Dr. Pamela Hymel

by , Disney Parks Chief Medical Officer

Dear Guests, 

As you may have heard at Disney’s Q2 FY20 Earnings Results Webcast, our CEO Bob Chapek announced that Shanghai Disney Resort will begin the phased reopening of Shanghai Disneyland on May 11 – an encouraging sign for Disney parks and retail locations all over the world. After so much time at home, I know many of you are eager to enjoy the magic of a Disney parks visit, and we can’t wait to welcome you back.

I’m fortunate to work with Disney’s extraordinarily talented team of health and safety experts who are some of the most experienced in the industry. Together, with our colleagues in operations, and local health and government authorities, we’re evaluating several new and enhanced safety measures to do our part towards helping us stay well while we work, stay, and play at a Disney resort and a Disney store. I’m also working closely with the US Travel Association on a set of guidelines the travel industry may tailor to their individual businesses to help demonstrate that safety of travelers is a top focus.

To that end, I want to share an update with you about our plans and considerations as we prepare for the reopening of our parks, resorts and stores. At Disney, we’re exploring:

  • Phased reopening: We’re looking at all of our locations and how best to begin the reopening process, including a gradual reopening and/or partial reopening of certain locations. For example, the opening of retail and dining locations prior to the opening of our theme parks.
  • Physical distancing and capacity measures: As you can imagine, managing guest density in queues, restaurants, hotels, ride vehicles and other facilities throughout the park and across the resort is a major focus, as we implement physical distancing guidelines based on guidance from health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and appropriate government agencies. This will likely include implementation of guest capacity measures to comply with state and federal guidelines. We’re also exploring ways to use technology to aid us in these efforts, like with our Play Disney Parks App and through virtual queues at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
  • Cleanliness and sanitization: We’re planning increased cleaning and disinfection, determining where that should take place (for example, in high-traffic areas), and the cleaning products and processes we’ll use.  
  • Screening and prevention support: We’ll follow guidance from the government and the medical community regarding enhanced screening procedures and prevention measures, including those related to personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face coverings. Some measures, like adding hand sanitizers and hand washing stations across our resorts, have already been implemented.
  • Cast training: We’re further emphasizing our strong culture of health and safety amongst our cast members, and will continue to provide new training and reinforcement as we get closer to reopening.

These are just a few examples of the many areas we are developing plans for, so please keep an eye on our online channels, where we’ll provide more details as we confirm and begin to implement our plans. Given the constantly changing global health environment, these practices may evolve as we consider the latest guidance, but we will share more information with you as we look towards reopening.

In the meantime, our focus remains on the health and safety of the entire Disney community – including the wellbeing of the Cast Members who are caring for and securing our parks and resorts during the closure. We have already implemented a number of enhanced health and safety measures, such as increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfection in work areas, adjusting practices to promote physical distancing, and providing Cast with access to necessary PPE, including face coverings. We continue to learn from these experiences and will carry these lessons into reopening and beyond.

Finally, I want to recognize the medical professionals working to bring care and comfort in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to do what we can to help support the medical community and our local communities during this time.

We’re looking forward to welcoming all of you back to our Disney parks, resorts and stores. Until we are together once again, we wish you and your families health, hope, and happiness.

Thank you,

signature of Dr. Pamela Hymel


Comments

  • Not that I want to wear a mask on vacation, but I would if it was a requirement and meant I didn’t have to cancel my families trip once again. However how does anyone expect kids to abide by this? Even my 5 year old who will wear a mask when we go to the store won’t keep it on for hours at a time, let alone my 3 year old! For a place that caters to children, this is a hard one.
    Also if there the parades, shows, meet and greets, etc cancelled will there be a discount in ticket prices?? It’s a huge bummer to pay the same price for a way different experience!

  • While we are all hoping for a cure or a vaccine, they may be a long time coming. If you don’t choose to take the risk, stay home. Stop expecting Disney to make concessions for things so far beyond their control. They did not force you to purchase anything, and they sure as heck cannot control this any more than they could if you had some heath or other issue that forced you to cancel your vacation under normal (non-pandemic) circumstances. When they reopen, they will have rules. If you choose to go, abide by them. If you do not like the rules then do not enter the parks as you are likely not to comply, so you may as well save yourself and others the embarrassment of calling you out. Not to mention it’s not very “Disney-like” to not comply with rules. I would find it entirely appropriate for you and your party to be escorted to the exit if you choose to do otherwise. If you are reading this, you are likely a huge Disney fan, and you should understand and conduct yourself accordingly. Do your part to keep ‘the happiest place on earth‘, exactly that.

  • As a DVC member and Platinum Annual Pass Holder, I say yes to masks! A minor inconvenience which might protect others is worth it. Thanks Disney for always considering the safety of visitors and cast members.

  • I truly don’t understand those Guests who complain about having to wear masks to the parks and the worst part: blame it on Disney. We’re living a WORLDWIDE problem that is trying to be kept under control through international measures! This is not Disney “trying to ruin your vacation”, it is gubernamental organisms in a local, national and international level determining how “the new normal” will be and requiring businesses and corporations to adopt these measures YES or YES. If Disney doesn’t impose this regulation and suddenly a Guest who recently visited the parks get the virus, I’m pretty sure everyone will complain about how irresponsible Disney executives were for not following the intl protocol. So stop complaining and if you don’t like how the new world will be like, stay home. The rest of us will be out there enjoying with whatever requirements we have to follow.

  • I have complete confidence that Disneyland will implement pragmatic practices. I look forward to Disneyland returning to NORMAL, which it will do in time though it may take a while. Until then, I expect we’ll see many changes when we arrive at the park. If one of those is a requirement to wear masks, I will not be wearing one. To spend hours in a mask is very unhealthy. I suggest that guests follow the same protocol that Tokyo Disneyland visitors have practiced since the beginning of time. If you exhibit symptoms of any kind of illness (cold or flu or anything possibly contagious), stay home or wear a mask. Asymptomatic people have walked and will continue to walk amongst us; that’s an inherent risk of being human.

  • Being able to hydrate in the heat is essential, if you’re doing that, you’re going to be taking on and off your mask which defeats the purpose of wearing one to begin with. And don’t even talk about wearing masks in the restrooms, that’s just plain disgusting. If you’re too afraid to go out in public places, stay home because masks don’t guarantee anything.

  • I am eagerly awaiting the final measures. I am excited about reduced capacity. We have a trip planned for Sept, which was rescheduled from April. I will not spend thousands on a trip to Disney wearing masks. Our societies and economies need better answers than PPE during everyday activities and social distancing FAST. I’m sure Disney is putting some of that Imagineering brainpower to work thinking about solutions. If they aren’t already, they should invest in vaccine and helpful treatment research.

  • I would be happy to wear a mask, as it will make other people not worry that I might be contagious for Covid-19 even though I’m not sick. Our family doesn’t see it as an issue.

  • DVC owner and pass holder. I want to thank all who have worked so tirelessly throughout this difficult time. I find myself agreeing with many people who have posted here about mandatory mask wearing. I manage a retail pharmacy and wear a mask 9 to 10 hours per day. It’s not something I want to do on vacation. I fully understand the theory that has been decreed to all about the prevention of spreading the virus through airborne particles. I can tell you from my experience dealing with the public daily that Disney will have a tremendously difficult time enforcing any of these rules. Most people ignore distancing, don’t pay attention to signs and leave gloves and masks everywhere. I am reluctant to return not because of fear of COVID but fear of wasting my time on a “vacation ” that was already stressful, but now will be impossible to deal with. Everyone has a medical degree now, as witnessed by some opinions I’ve read here, and facts continue to be molded into what people want to believe. I’m considering putting my points up for sale after I get back from my next trip. To those who think this is short term, I will tell you sadly I think this will be the new normal. So I think it’s time to sadly say goodbye to the formerly fun and enjoyable Disney vacation. I hope that Disney will be fair to it’s most loyal customers. If a reduction in entertainment is the new normal than ticket price reductions must occur. Sensible safeguards will help to minimize the risks. Let’s hope most visitors will be sensible as well.

  • Hi! DVC owner and AP passholder here! I can appreciate that Disney is going through pains to reopen in the safest way possible. I just hope that they are looking at both sides of the argument. I’m not here to argue, but there are plenty of valid reasons for guests to refuse to wear a mask. Here are my concerns:
    1. There is no scientific study published that shows that paper/cloth masks or N95 masks reduce the transmission of COVID-19. The studies that are published evaluate the effectiveness of masks to reduce influenza transmission, and those studies don’t agree on the effectiveness of those masks to stop influenza.
    2. Are procedures being explored to allow guests to enter without masks if he/she has a medical reason? Examples include heat-induced asthma, chronic and acute sinusitis, autism, PTSD, COPD, etc. I have heat-induced asthma, so if masks are required, I can’t go. That’s fine. I’ll go another time.
    3. I’m not sick. You’re not sick. The people around us are probably not sick. 0.4% of the U.S. population (1,480,389) has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the CDC, and of those 6% (89,407) have died. Please, be aware and responsible for your own health as well as your family’s.

  • Hey if you don’t want to wear a mask that is fine with me! Less people in line ahead of me if you stay home!! Please don’t come to the park, go somewhere else for vacation!!

  • Masks could be required going into shows or inside rides, but I don’t see why they are needed when people are outdoors walking around.
    And what is Disney without the shows, parades and fireworks! Social distancing can be done outside, the parks are big enough! Especially with low admittance

  • Here’s a solution! Everyday have two parks that masks are required and two parks where masks aren’t. That way people who feel masks are critical to be safe and keep others safe can be happy and those who feel masks don’t do anything, make things dirtier, feel it’s too hot or aren’t worried about the virus can also be happy.
    We have reservations June 18th and would love nothing more than to enjoy all of our Disney favorites activities and not have to worry about burying our smiles in a mask. However, we understand some people feel wearing masks is important to not sharing germs.
    Thanks for reading my idea! #healthydisneyfan

  • We will not go if masks are required, plenty of other beautiful places to visit this summer.

  • My family has visited Disney World for the past thirty years and were just there last for a week this past February. We are most excited about the prospect of WDW reopening in the near future. It would appear that face masks would be in order and that’s fine with us as we don them now in any public situations.

  • I would do anything to go to my happiest place on earth mask or not ! I can’t wait till I can create more memories with my loved ones at our favorite place ❤️

  • I’m dvc and have been an AP holder in the past. Was about to be again until I canceled my July trip. I’m not on here to debate anyone. Simply letting my feelings be known so maybe Disney sees them and to add voice to other comments. As long as masks are required my family will never be back. I’m very much holding out hope that the mask requirements are temporary because we absolutely love Disney and it is our favorite week of the year when we are there. If it is temporary that is fine. I dont have to go this year. If this is still in effect next July I’ll be unloading our points. I wish they would give more information about their phases and what will be required in each. I think they are smart enough to know that the vast majority of their guests will not return until this policy is lifted or changed to recommended. If you want to wear a mask…wear it. If my family doesn’t feel comfortable wearing them, we shouldn’t have too. If I saw that masks were only required in phase one or two before they became recommended or no longer required, I know I for one would not even bother commenting. I’d be good just to wait. I’d simply like to know that these are temporary precautions and will not become permanent.

  • Concur with Scott. Wearing a mask in public is common practice as a health care provider to set the example. This is to protect the public from me. The CDC guidelines change all the time as we are in uncharted waters with COVID-19. Any state of normalcy will be welcomed. So much has been taken for granted without even knowing it. I just want to get to the happiest place on earth as soon as possible!

  • If masks are mandatory I will not visit the park. We touch our faces more adjusting masks while exploring the park for hours a day. It should be optional.

  • Thank you Kaylee!!!! Great post!!

  • I do not believe wearing a mask will be helpful but actually hurtful. As the sweaty flimsy masks get drenched in sweat etc , everyone touching their masks, harmful bacteria is actually able to get trapped inside your mask etc but I am willing to wear one if forced to.

    However there are many issues with the mask wearing. What about fast rides, the masks can fly off, hit others in the face, go wherever. Also in the florida heat , you have to stay hydrated. So can you walk around with water and drink your water? Not to mention all the discarded gross used masks everywhere. I just have lots of questions.

  • Will Disney allow ticket holders to book their visit dates before the public who don’t have already purchased tickets? I’m worried I won’t be able to make it into the 30% and have already changed my flights and hotel. (Was supposed to visit in April)

  • We dont mind wearing masks or any other sanitation requirements. We already have purchased tickets and are planning on visiting in November. Will disney allow ticket holders to book their visit dates before the public who don’t have already purchased tickets? How will this work using our already purchased tickets before the December expiration date with a 30% capacity? I dont want to miss out because the public lock up the internet buying tickets before I book my dates.

  • We have tickets purchased and are planning to visit the Florida parks in November. Will we be able to book our already purchased tickets prior to selling new tickets to the public who haven’t purchased any yet? How will this work to allow ticket holders to use their tickets before the expiration date in December with a 30% capacity?

  • I did virus testing in medical labs. We wore gloves. We NEVER wore masks. We did not get sick and die. And the homemade masks would never be allowed in a hospital lab. They are totally ineffective. Everybody in the park has to eat and drink. Parents are going to wash the ice cream off their kid’s faces. If masks aren’t worn ALL the time, then the purpose of mandatory masks is defeated. I have no problem with others wearing masks if it gives them a sense of safety. I will NOT wear a mask. If I am allowed to take my ‘mandatory’ mask off to eat and drink, then it’s not mandatory. For those of you who are ‘forever maskers’ (cause there WILL BE another virus after covid19) remember that everyone in that park will have their masks OFF to eat and drink several times. Perhaps YOU should stay home. If you are so afraid of getting this virus from someone who is not wearing a mask, why would you ever go to a park with 300,000 people in it???

  • It still amazes me that so many people just don’t get it. The masks are not to protect you. The masks are to prevent the rapid spread of this virus in a world where so many are getting sick and dying. Where is your compassion? For those of you with children that have difficulties, you really should be the first ones to stand up and support this! These children are more at risk, and they deserve everyone helping to protect them.

    People with annual passes and already planned vacations to Disney, I get that it isn’t “fair”. So much right now isn’t. This is not the old normal. Really, as much as I would love to see Disney generating revenue in order to survive, you just shouldn’t be going to a theme park! I miss it too, I really do. But that just isn’t in the interest of helping the world.

    Now is the time for people to stand up and be heroes, and we see it every day… but we are also seeing so many that just aren’t. Be a hero – stay home, stop spreading the virus, wear a mask when you must, and save a life – it might just be someone you love. And for those of you who choose to go, well I just implore you to follow the guidelines. They are not made without research and deliberation. I am sure no one at Disney wants to make people wear masks at the theme park. But they know what the score is, and they are trying to balance some return to normal with the reality of what we are facing now.

    For those complaining about capacity, let’s face it – the parks are crazy crowded most of the time anyway. So many people I know get sick by the time they return home anyway – why on earth would we want to continue that spread of infection?

    Why pay so much if you just won’t be able to enjoy it? Good point – just please don’t go. Ask Disney for a fair way to recover the costs – but know as well that massive refunds of money could have long term consequences as well. Not all companies are going to survive this pandemic. They just aren’t. I, for one, will assist Disney on being one that does because I have high hopes of again enjoying the parts someday soon.

  • If you are in “ Fear” of getting this virus or are at risk take the same precautions you always did before. The rest of us should not be subjected to punishment because others fear. Sorry but masks cause illness and health issues in the healthy.

  • This is from the Alberta Heath Services regarding masks:

    Ensure your mask is well-fitted and does not gape at the sides.

    Be aware that masks can become contaminated on the outside. Avoid moving or adjusting the mask.

    Assume the mask has been contaminated and take proper precautions.

    Critically, if you wear a mask, you must wash your hands before putting it on, as well as before and after taking it off.

    Cloth masks should be worn only a short time, as there is some evidence that they can trap virus particles after they become damp, which may put the wearer at greater risk.

    For those choosing to wear non-medical masks, it may be prudent to carry a bag with several clean masks in it, as well as a plastic bag that can be used to safely store used masks until they can be washed at home.

    It is critical that used masks be carefully handled to avoid spreading infection to others.

    Now picture thousands of people walking around at a theme park ALL DAY LONG wearing masks. It just isn’t practical, sanitary or safe.

  • I understand the importance of masks and I am absolutely willing to wear one, but I also know that my special needs stepson is definitely not going to be able or willing to wear a mask for a day at the parks. We have his behavioral therapist working with him but after three weeks we are up to 5 minutes max. If I can’t bring him to the parks with me, I don’t know why I should be expected to pay for his/my Platinum Annual Pass. I will follow guidelines and ultimately not go if my family is required to wear a mask and not be mad at Disney for it, but I shouldn’t be paying for a pass that I can’t use because of Disney rules.

  • If you are worried about covid then you shouldn’t be going. If you’re not worried then go and have a great time. Making everyone wear an ineffective mask is ridiculous in the Florida heat. If cast members want them fine , if they don’t, that’s fine too. Wash hands, sanitize, take temps at the door all fine. If your guests aren’t going to have 100% experience then don’t charge 100% prices. Most guests have small children, don’t be ridiculous and make them wear a mask, they won’t. I have a teenager (she has bad asthma and she can’t anyway) but she wouldn’t. I have COPD and I can’t either but we paid good money to be there and have every intention of going as soon as we can.

  • I am a Platinum Annual Pass holder who will be canceling if I have to wear a face mask!!! In the Florida heat , are you crazy? The mask would be soaking wet within a half hour and totally worthless. If Disney can’t open and allow the full experience we are all used to , then stay closed!

  • We have plans to come on July 4th we are traveling with several small children that will not wear masks. The advisor to trump said mask were no longer needed. I am having trouble paying what it cost and not being able to have character greetings. This makes me so sad. Hopefully by July 4th they will allow them as well as no mask.

  • Also, Only N95 masks are truly effective. The rest are just a show. let’s be realistic. Kids won’t wear them. Uncle bob will wear it around his neck, aunt Deb will have it under her nose and grandma will have one made from a doily. Have fun with enforcement!!

  • My husband and I are “Vulnerables”. Age, Cancer, Diabetes. Since masks are required and there are people that have already shown that they will not wear them consistently, we cannot take the chance. Therefore, we will not be able to attend until there is a vaccine or treatment that increases our chances of surviving. We have Annual Passes that we just purchased and Disney will not refund anything but the months that the park is closed. We paid a whole lot of money that Disney has decided they will just keep even though we cannot use the premises. Especially right now when people are out of work. We, and others like us, cannot be expected to use the park under these circumstances and they need to understand that. Very disappointing!

  • Scott is absolutely correct. I believe it would be in Disney’s best interest to really look closely at the mandated guidelines, especially in regards to masks. Nobody wants a miserable and inconvenient placebo. If I were in any way convinced that you could possibly get thousands of people, in high heat and humidity, many of which are children, to properly wear a mask and not actually make the spread worse with improper use, then I would entertain the wearing of one at a theme park with kids. At some point we need to step away from our rigid stances and just be logical about it.

  • I have read a few of these, and of course everyone has an opinion. Some are beneficial, which is why they all should be read.
    Take under-consideration that some people have had this virus and do not need mask, and some people can’t breathe with the mask on, for reasons. Should be a choice, and that is my thoughts on that.
    About the park opening, my daughter said the best thing… I know that I don’t want to drive with my grandkids an hour and a half to find that the park is full and we can’t get in. And a lot of people have little ones who are not going to sit for hours on line to see if they can get in. They’ll hate the day before it starts. Maybe like the fast pass, Hotel patrons and pass holders (and maybe everyone) can make reservations for the day. And as the fast pass if they don’t show up within a time frame walk-ins can take the spot. Perhaps put some slots aside for walk-ins. I know that Disney caters to the Disney Hotel patrons and then pass holders, but don’t leave out the walk-ins, slots for them is equally important. Be fair to all. But reservations should cover most, if done right even walk-ins so to speak. That’s all I have to say, Good Luck, I know for most of us, this isn’t easy. Author, Wendy

  • As an annual passholder I’m not to thrilled To hear that there will be a capacity limit to the parks. If my open dates get reserved to quickly because everyone is breaking the internet to reserve a day to go to the parks and I can’t go because of a capacity issue then I will cancel my passes. I did not sign up for this! As for wearing masks, I have no problem.

  • people want to believe what they want … so getting people to comply with whatever rules are in place is going to be tough…..

    they released the studies and the virus can linger for 8 minutes in the air from just talking….let alone a cough or sneeze that goes well beyond the 6’ distancing , up to 12’ and stays lingering in the air for several minutes. it lives on surfaces for days.

    So, you wearing a mask is protecting me. It’s containing your spray.

    Me wearing a mask protects you containing my spray.

    it shows coughing and sneezing into an arm, still hits and sprays out from all sides, it’s good, but not as effective as a mask.

    And we can pass covid to each other this way without even knowing we have it.

    so everyone needs to be wearing one, not just some, to have the most overall protection.

    they’re not perfect but proven to reduce risk.

    Remember…..Me having my mask on is protecting YOU.
    You having your mask on protects me. that’s how it works.

  • scott you’re not 100% right, this virus can spray up to 3 times the 6’ distancing recommendation, it can linger airborne for an extended period, and stay alive on specific surfaces from hours to 15 days. And it’s being noted that otherwise healthy children and adults are dying, not just vulnerable people. They’re learning more everyday. there’s 1000 more cases in Fl in one day. stats breakdown that babies, kids to 15, young adults and 40-50, all without any other health issues have died…..not just elderly or sick. also the masks are not perfect, but they’ve been proven to reduce the spread, but it has to be everyone in any given group wearing them to be the most effective. So myself won’t go to disney till things improve….because too many people just don’t get it or have updated information….and enforcing them to comply will be impossible…..which increases risks.

  • Wow, this ‘discussion’ of face masks always seems to draw battle lines. I am glad to see most of you understand that a face mask only stops the person wearing it from spreading germs orally. The virus is not airborne, it is passed via touch.

    Relative to masks, I have seen so many ‘home-made’ and improperly worn masks that they are basically ineffective. There is no ‘perfect’ answer here. Carry the thought process of wearing a mask where most people have made their own or purchase cheap cloth masks.

    • First off you will walking around in 90-degree weather with high humidity. So these cloth masks will be getting soaked with sweat and moisture from just breathing. So if you cough or sneeze, all that moisture on the outside of a cloth mask will be ‘shot’ out.
    • Little kids can’t keep ears on because they don’t like thinks on their face / head. Trying to keep a mask on them ‘correctly’ will be a constant battle.
    • Just walking around 90-degree heat and high humidity, I am sure many adults will be moving their masks around just to get fresh air in and get away from the sweat collecting inside the mask.
    • An improperly worn mask does nothing.
    • The only ‘light weight’ mask that is made for ‘germs’ is a N95 respirator mask which are very difficult to obtain as they are all going to our brave health care warriors.

    Again, remember the virus is spread by touch. So, let’s just take the focus off of masks for a second. The biggest petri dish is a public restroom. It is not the air in there, but what you touch. Now you have the benches, chairs, tables, accidently bumping into other people, door handles, fingerprint scanners, getting in and out of the transportation vehicles, etc.
    This all boils down to just use common sense: use good hygiene, wash hands often, don’t invade personal space, turn your head into your arm if you need to cough or sneeze and most importantly > follow the regulations of wherever you are. Our bodies are made with an immune system that for the most part, will naturally adapt to threats to the body. Again, use common sense, if your body is weakened or you have a pre-existing health condition > do you want to expose your body to high target area.

    Disney will do what it needs to do to protect its patrons to the best of their ability. There is no 100% protection against any virus. Whatever those regulations are (mask, no mask | temperature check | etc), if it makes you personally uncomfortable, don’t go. Otherwise; go, follow the rules and just have a good time. I personally do not wear a face mask due to the points above, but if Disney regulations state to wear a mask in the park > I will wear a mask and enjoy being there. If you have to fly to get to Disney, you will have a higher chance of picking up a germ in the packed airplane where no one is wearing a mask, than at Disney. It is no fun for anyone if there is a person somewhere that does not want to be there or complaining all the time.

  • I am sorry to hear people are so sad…..
    Instead of being sad that you have to wear a health mask, on vacation at Disney World, for a day….or a week, in a global health crisis, how about being sad because there is a global pandemic , sad that millions are sick, sad that there’s hundreds of thousands that have died, sad that thousands more who are in mourning because they lost loved ones, or be sad about survivors left with permanent disabilities……
    or sad if you get sick, when maybe you wouldn’t have gotten sick, if people just wore health masks.

  • you want disney fans to “take a stand to not wear masks” in a global pandemic?
    A real Disney fan won’t let other Disney fans go maskless.