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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

  • Masks are NOT for your personal protection. They are for the protection of others, so that you do not unknowingly transmit disease. There are a myriad of airborne illnesses that you could be carrying and transmitting without showing any symptoms. Now that we know there is one that is currently widely spread with no vaccine, extra precautions must be taken. If you care more about your own personal comfort then the lives and well-being of others you do not deserve Disney or any form of public enjoyment. Selfishness disguised as personal freedom is still selfishness.

  • Please no mask!

  • As an annual passholder for many years, I am thrilled to hear that the parks may be opening soon! Although I agree that as an adult, I can make my own choices for myself and my family, I have no problem making the choice to wear a mask in order to come to the parks! I am respectful and appreciative of Disney’s efforts to keep its guests and staff safe and as long as I’m able, I will be there for my reservation in August with bells on! Thank you for bringing the happiest place back to us.

  • Stop saying you can’t wear a mask. Think of others not yourself, If you can’t or you don’t want to , simple just Don’t go!!!!

  • No to masks. Not only do most masks accomplish nothing in way of protection from the Wu-flu, but in the Florida heat and humidity you’ll be putting a lot more people at risk for other medical complications.

    If masks are going to be mandatory, then make a way for us Annual Passholders who refuse to participate in this madness to cancel the rest of our remaining time on our annual passes. Thanks.

  • Does this blog stop people from posting if they are only pass members but not DVC Members? I have been visiting WDW since 1978. I have been a pass holder since the early 2000’s. After my husband passed away I dropped my pass for a couple of years but then started again in 2014. I hope that Masks are required. I have AFIB, Allergies & Asthma I can’t risk getting sick with this virus. I also hope that everyone gets vaccinated when a vaccine becomes available.To me wearing a mask is a small price to enjoy Disney. Thank you for thinking of not only your cast members but those who visit Disney World also.

  • All Mask! All the Time! Make it Disney Fun! Airlines, Busses, Trains, Urber, All requiring mask.

    I see no issues with it, Make it required please!

  • Thank you. I am most certainly looking forward to getting back to Disney asap. I do have one question, I have a medical condition that does not allow me to wear a mask (restrictive breathing issue) … how would this play out if masks are required by guests? I have contacted my airlines that I always use and they have told me that exceptions can be made for those of us who cannot wear a mask because an underlying medical condition. Would this be the case at Disney too? I know I am not the only one with this or other conditions.

  • I can certainly understand how people have opinions about masks. It’s understanding how someone may feel they may not enjoy their experience at Disney if there is a requirement to wear them. I do not like wearing them myself, however, I also understand when I am in a location requiring me to have them on, I must follow their rules. This is not about rights as an American, this is about weighing risks and making decisions for the company. (something they have absolute ability to do at this point) The right as an American (if you choose) is to not go to Disney or Costco if they require masks. How is it “Un-American” to require masks, when they already require you to wear shoes and shirts? Somehow, this is acceptable, however, masks end up being the line in the sand? It doesn’t appear these parks will operate at full capacity for some time. Those that don’t want to wear masks, take this time to find something else to do. Some are getting angry about a policy that hasn’t even been announced. There are other things more important to hate on. My bigger concern is how they will handle pass holders who have already paid for passes that can’t be used as they were originally intended at purchase.

  • My family and I would be happy to wear a mask or face covering to visit WDW. This requirement is no different from abiding by non-smoking areas or security check points. It’s all for the safety of yourself and others. We would be happy to comply with whatever safety protocols are in place.
    Thanks Disney for the update!

  • What kinds of steps will you take to allow people into the parks that cannot wear a mask? Our son is handicapped and autistic, and really cannot wear a mask. We do look forward to the parks reopening soon… can’t wait to get back there again.

  • Thank you Dr. Pam. Thank you for allowing Disney lovers to express their thoughts but I feel fairly certain that a decision has already been made. There is absolutely no way to make a majority happy when it comes to this safety topic. It seems quite apparent that masks will initially need to be mandatory which will help in some way to partially solve the crowd issue. We all know that people in general don’t like to be told what they can and can’t do … so whatever the decision, my heart goes out to those taking on the thousands of complaints that will be pouring in. See you someday, hopefully sooner than later! We miss you!!!

  • Personally I agree with the Surgeon Generals first statement that everyone wearing masks was unnecessary and would cause more spread from people adjusting them all the time. Maybe just use them in more enclosed spaces but not required when walking around outside. I’m a premiere passholder from California and have reservations for WDW in Mid-July and I’m seriously not worried at all. All the procedures they listed sound reasonable.

  • Thank you for the information. We are and have been passholders for many years. We live in Florida. We were both heartened by Disney’s courageous decision to close before others took that step. Always the leader. We strongly support mandatory masks. At some point the may not need to be mandatory. But in any time in the near future we believe they should be and with NO exemptions. The combination of masks, distancing and cleanliness is the key to being able to manage through this event. Anyone who thinks to the contrary can remind them selves of all the other rules we live by in the name of self protection and public health and safety. Thank you for all you do. We would love to be there and will return when it is safe. By the way, we are 68 and 72 years old and purchase tickets and special events for our kids and grandkids as well. Have a magical return, We will.

  • Good Afternoon:

    Thank you for the updates. Please use the best practices presented by the CDC. If the CDC recommends we all have to wear mask, please turn the people around who are refusing to wear mask. If mask aren’t a requirement that’d be awesome but please put safety first in your decisions.

  • I’m not asking for an opening, but would it be possible one weekend soon to set up drive through ice cream bars and cupcakes? In one of the parking lots? Surely there could be a safe way to do that.

  • Thank you for trying to do the best possible thing when reopening! One thought we had was to open the theme parks to Florida Residents and annual pass holders first before opening to the rest of the world! It may be more manageable and you would be able to see how it is working and adjust as needed! If masks are required we will wear them!

  • Wear a mask. PERIOD. or don’t go!! If you’re entitled enough to go to Disney FOLLOW THE RULES.

  • We have been annual pass holders for 2 years now (and have been going to WDW several times a year for 5-14 days at a time since) and prior to that we made yearly trips to Disney World, all while we live in Colorado. Yes it gets very hot and muggy in the summer so I can understand the complaints if masks are required, however if they are, that WILL NOT STOP US from continuing to go. We already wear a mask when out in public because of the virus, if WDW requires it, they won’t be asking folks to do what stores and most businesses are already asking of everyone. What it will do is likely limit the amount of time we spend in the parks, we would likely go early in the morning and later in the evening when it’s cooler and stay at our Disney resort during the hottest part of the day. It would not take away from our purchasing of merchandise, food or anything else we would do. And yes those that refuse to abide by whatever measures Disney puts in place, please by all means stay home until the restrictions can be lifted, the last thing I want to have to endure on our family vacation to WDW is seeing grown guests act like children by throwing a fit or raising their dislike over safety measures that WDW puts in place. If our special needs 17 year old daughter, who is also claustrophobic on top of her other issues can work for 4-8 hours wearing a mask at her job then by all means those who want to go to a theme park for fun can also follow the same rules, including mask wearing if it is recommended or required. My only hope and concern at this point is we have had a trip to WDW booked for Jun 3-17 and staying on 3 different WDW properties in that time span so I am hoping they will announce soon as to an opening date or a decision for June plans so we can know if we need to rebook all 3 of our reservations for June, cancel time off from work we had to go, allow for reasonable time to rebook flights and cancel our dogs boarding and then rebook it all for later in the summer or fall while it’s still available to arrange. Not having any idea on a prospective and likely open date for folks who have reservations is making it difficult for guests who want to support Disney to plan so they can do so.

  • Hope you do not make it mandatory or we will not attend. I love Disney but you would be treating everyone like their sick and is not the case.

  • Wear a mask, no exemptions. If you can’t wear a mask, stay home. Simple. Doctors and CDC agree.

  • Masks certainly shouldn’t be mandatory in the open air and ques should have an additional line/option implemented for those wishing to mask and/or stay masked for attractions as Disney deems appropriate; in line with CDC regulations and whatnot. If guests can mask on an attraction…let’s say Space Mountain, thus allowing the popular attraction to run at normal capacity then that’s probably going to be better over all. If I had to mask to keep things moving I would gladly do my part. Depending on crowding, or lack of, you could simply make masks optional and/or required for theater type shows; The Land & Living Seas areas etc…I’m no statistician, but common sense tells me from being a Florida resident from 1987-2007 that 85% of guests minimum want no mask requirement…Implementing an optional plan similar to my examples above would give you the best overall attendance while quelling the fears of those still hesitant. In summation, I feel having appropriate options to minimize stress for all guests as a whole would maximize potential for these guests to maintain a sense of normalcy while having fun. With a consistent, yet versatile plan akin to this, Disney can then gradually evolve with this transition and eventually return to it’s operational goals. My family and I have been visiting since 2001 and are quite familiar with policies relating to special needs etc…as my dear wife just passed away in June of 2018. Her memory is always with my son and I every time we enter a park and we truly understand the intricacies and burden both mentally and physically for a severely disabled guest always appreciating the accommodations that were occasionally requested to make my wife more comfortable during those times. My son and I view our experience now at Disney on a different level than most because of what we learned while caring for my wife. We love Disney and are more than grateful for it’s excellent guest relations. To conclude, we would be more than happy to assist in any way we can. THANK YOU!!!

  • My main concern is that since the majority of individuals who wear face coverings right now continue to improperly touch and adjust, remove and reinstall, handle, and dispose their masks without washing their hands each time. What is going to be done to ensure guests respect the integrity of the face coverings, and therefore minimize the hazards due to cross contaminations caused by guests who carelessly demonstrate bad practices with regard to face covering usage? This could easily get out of control in this highly active and hot environment creating an additional hazard.

  • Even though it can be hard to wear a mask all day, it is a given that masks should be required. Masks are not perfect but they do provide some protection and we need all of the protection we can get to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and everyone else. This virus is going to be around us a spreading for the foreseeable future. We should all respect what the medical team at Disney recommends and not put up a fuss. I hope all Disney fans will accept these prudent safety measures and agree to put with any inconvenience that the best safety measure entail. I can’t wait to walk through that gate again wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance!!! Let’s get on with it!!!

  • Masks should be required. It’s surprising people think this should be optional. Seatbelts aren’t optional. Seat bars at roller coasters aren’t optional. Masks should not be optional either.

    If a guest is going to be a danger to others by not wearing a mask, then they should not come to the parks.

    Simple.

  • Wearing masks, park entrance reservations, no thanks. I’ll take my season pass money back please and wait for things to return to normal. Then I’ll spend my time at the beach…

  • Yes to masks!

  • I’ve eagerly been waiting for Disney’s reopening. I still have a 10 day vacation at Shades of Green booked for July 2020. I sincerely hope the Parks will be open. I would also like to chime in regarding masks. I will not wear one. You would be better served to use contact-less thermometers on guests during the entry process. Yes, it will slow entry down, but the safety payoff is worth it. The finger scans on entry need to sanitized after every guest. Also, the app should offer phased Park entry time slots throughout the day to mitigate excessive entry lines. And, how will capacity issues be handled with Passholders? I’m not paying for my premium passes if I will be denied entry. Between the premium passes, multiple resort stays throughout the year, food, experiences, and Park retail shopping, I spend well over ten thousand dollars a year at Disney for me and my 19 year old daughter. I won’t continue to do so if Disney tries to overreach with mandatory masks or I’m not able to enter the Parks due to capacity issues.

  • Happy to wear masks and do whatever is necessary to keep everyone safe. This said, I do hope Disney will prioritize guests who are staying on property for park access (or maybe have extended Disney Magic Hours) – especially into the holiday season. I know I won’t be popular for this opinion.

  • Wearing a mask will make everyone feel safer. Knowing that, while standing in line behind the woman laughing, the man coughing or the child cheering, you aren’t being covered with particles of moisture laden virus ,a mask is reassuring.
    Don’t be egocentric…put on a mask and have a great time.

  • Thank you for the update. You will have plenty of business from those who are willing to follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask. Those wishing to not wear one are welcome to stay home.

  • My family and I are very comfortable with masks and would encourage mandatory mask wearing in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.

  • Unless there is significant breakthrough with this Pandemic…. enforcing the mask requirement is a must for the safety of the guests and it’s cast members. If there are those that find this practice to daunting it would be best for them to abstain from visiting the parks not just for the other guests and cast members but for their family’s safety as well. Stay safe and stay healthy!

  • Masks have not been proven to stop anything; false sense of security.

  • We have been looking at our cherished pictures during this pandemic. We love Disney, appreciate the memories, and we will be back.

  • I can see if on a line whether it be for an attraction or food line where you will be in close proximity with other people to wear a mask. But to wear the mask when you enter and all day in the open air of the park I think would be a bit excessive. When out in the open and keeping your social distance a mask in my opinion is not needed.
    On another note when you have a relative suffering from dimentia, they do not understand the need for wearing a mask and continue to keep taking it off. My mother has dimentia and I had to keep telling her to put the mask on every 3 to 5 minutes after each time of her putting it back on. The elderly who enjoy the park with their relatives who have this disease will be an issue regardless. So do you restrict them from the park or staple the mask to their face? I ask you.

  • I think the first opening should be for Florida residents before going back to a world destination. I have no problem with mandatory masks and even gloves to keep myself and family safe. In order to get what people want sometimes we must sacrifice to get it. I am willing.. Virtual queues and entry reservations all fine with me.

  • Ask any doctor why they wear a mask in surgery. It is not to protect themselves from the patients germs, it is to protect the patient from his germs.
    Masks do very little to prevent the wearer from getting germs, they prevent the wearer from spreading germs. If you’re sick, why are you going to a theme park?? Truth is in the facts. Drawn your own conclusions instead of the delusions of the uninformed masses.

  • Will you be refunding annual passes if you are requiring masks.

  • I’m a senior and think masks are useless. I think people that are that frightened should be the ones staying home. I’ll take the refund on my AP. Happy to wait until the park can actually be enjoyed.

  • All these people saying if you dont want to wear a mask dont go, how about if you dont like people not wearing a mask dont go, goes both ways

  • Thank you for caring about the health and safety of your cast members and guests. I am 100% going to wear a mask. I am so happy that it will be mandatory. Those people who do not care for anyone’s safety will not be missed. To those people threatening to cancel their APs & or not attending any parks…excellent. I’d prefer and hope they don’t attend any Disney property. They’ll be back.

  • Ha, I will gladly wear a mask with about six to seven dime sized holes cut in the cloth so I can breathe. If people are drinking water or any liquid throughout the day, they’re going to have to keep taking on and off the mask which defeats the purpose of wearing one to begin with. If you’re that paranoid to go out in public, then stay home.

  • Happy to see some progress and completely understand the mask requirement but I’ll hold off. Florida summer heat plus a mask isn’t my idea of a good time. I’ll be back at some point probably.

  • My husband & I have been annual passholders 19 years. We love Disney & spend a lot of time & money there. We bring 3 or more family groups from out of state every year. We are willing to follow safety regulations. However, we may not be physically able to wear a mask. My husband has had a fourth of a lung removed & has a hard time getting through the grocery store with a mask. We can choose to stay home for now if my husband can’t tolerate the mask & maybe just enjoy Disney Springs. It is ok, but then I would expect Disney to allow us to cancel the remaining months on our passes. Will that be an option?

  • First year pass holders and have had a great year so far. If masks are required I hope we can opt to resume our passes once that phase passes. I cannot see my family, especially the kids, wearing masks in heat indexes of over 100. We carry water on those days and hydrate often so can’t even see that being feasible on those days. My son wears hearing aids and we tried him with a mask when this started and it was too much. Looking forward to when we can return, my daughter’s birthday plans got cancelled and looking forward to making it up to her.

  • Please do whatever your company thinks is right! It’s America, you’re a private company. You’re free to do whatever you want. We’re Platinum passholders at WDW and will come this summer mask or no mask. I am worried about wearing them on the rides….won’t they just fly off? Also, my 2 year old won’t keep hers on…..we tried but she’s not up in people’s face or height. We have wipes and hand sanitizer in our travel fanny packs to enjoy the rides no matter what. We are ready to fly and have fun with our masks on regardless of what happens. Schools start Aug 15th where we are, so after that we won’t be there……hopefully you reopen soon!

  • Yes, we all need to wear masks to maintain the safety of each other. We need to adhere to the social distancing, also. I am a DVC Member, annual pass Platinum holder for over 15 years. I also have reservations at DVC for 4 different stays from September thru December 2020. One in conceriege. I also have a two day at Shades of Green. I have a busy schedule. I am willing to do what ever it takes to keep everyone safe, to include myself. I, of course like to be able to attend the Food and Wine Festival as I used a boatload of DVC points to get reservations and have the Annual Platinum Pass. However, I trust Disney to do the right thing.

  • Having a hard time breathing with mask and am constantly adjusting so it does me no good to go. Have reservation but not afraid to cancel.

  • Masks should be mandatory, no one wants another”s germs. Please if you can’t or won’t wear a mask stay home. I am a DVC member and have 4 reservations from September til the end of December 2020. I also am an Annual Platinum Pass Holder for over 15 years. I have spent a ton of points to be able to go to the Food and Wine Festival on two seperate occassions. I also have a two day stay at Shades of Green. Please, everyone stay safe, wear a mask and conform to Disney’s guidelines. If you are not inclined to do so, stay home or do something else to entertain yourself. Think of others.

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