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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


  • Thank you, I can’t wait to get back. Sadly, I am constantly amazed at the ignorance of some of the comments. We need to help protect each other.

  • Thank you for the update. I agree 100% with all requirements.

  • For as long as I can remember, we’ve seen signs at businesses that say, No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service… So adding No Mask to the equation, for maybe several months until a vaccine is available, should not be that hard. If you don’t want to wear it, you don’t have to go. Businesses have the right to impose rules as they see fit. Disney has many rules about clothing, where you can stand or sit, and how you should behave in queues already.
    The wait times are going to be harder on people than wearing a mask, especially those with children. I would give that a lot more consideration if I planned on going when they reopen.

  • I’m very sorry to see that people have negative comments about Disney trying to do the best they can for us guests and their employees.
    If masks will be a requirement, I’m very happy to do that.
    As a resident of Florida, even though it’s a 3 hour drive from where I live , my family was very happy to make the trip and enjoy all that Disney has to offer .
    Hope to be back soon ! ( with all safety requirements made of me )

  • As an annual pass member, we will certainly cancel and not be returning to Disney if guests masks and temperature taking become REQUIRED. That’s beyond invasive. Suggesting is one thing, but if people don’t feel comfortable in a crowd, they have no business being at Disney world. Staff in masks seems absolutely ridiculous and scary for the children. I hope for an opening soon and those who don’t wish to go should stay home.

  • Masks are to protect you and to protect others FROM you. You can ignore your own risk-taking, but you should at least care about all the old people and children and health-compromised people you might infect. And with Covid you can’t really tell if you have it and are asymptomatic. And testing only checks if you are infected at that moment (with a 15% chance of it being wrong), not whether you have been infected since. That’s why it spreads the way it does. Empathy, not selfishness!

  • We’ve been going to WDW since 1972 several times a year. With that being said, I believe this has been blown out of proportion with the masks. They don’t stop you from catching anything. They prevent YOUR germs from being spread (somewhat). If you’re sick, stay home…period. If Disney needs to take your temperature as you go through security, great do it. Over sanitizing and being quarantined is destroying our immune systems. There have always been risks of catching something being in public. Lighter crowds, personal hygiene and Cast Member protection will work. Let’s get back to the Magic *o*

  • Thank you for trying to make sure both guests and staff are as safe as possible. I don’t think anyone enjoys wearing a mask, but I will gladly wear one whether required or not. The idea is to help protect yourself and others as much as possible. As an APH I hope you will consider extending the expiration date until the park is at 100%, not just partial opening.

  • I think initial entry should be restricted to Florida Resident APs and WDW should hand out clear plastic face shields instead of masks to visitors. Plastic shields would make breathing and visibility easier, and they can be cleaned and reused even outside of the parks.

    Keeping Disney corporate in mind , they can also brand the headbands of the shields.

  • Mask will not work with children. If mask are required, I probably will not come to the parks. I cannot justify the cost of a trip to Disney only to come home with photos of everyone in mask.

  • Interesting that Disney was open and excessively crowded during the months of January, February and March with no mass breakout but now people are afraid to go without masks. It’s actually ridiculous. The virus is getting weaker, not stronger and more people are walking around with antibodies. Also, children are the biggest germ spreaders on the planet. Masks will not be required for children because it’s actually dangerous for their health. A bunch of adults walking around with masks will accomplish nothing.
    I love Disneyworld but my family will not be going with arbitrary, nonsensical requirements in place.

  • Dr. Hymel,

    As I am sure you are aware, the latest data indicates that for those under 45 years old and otherwise healthy, the death rate due to COVID-19 is *less* than that of the typical seasonal flu, and less than a typical RSV season here in Florida.

    Statistically, CMs and visitors alike who are younger and healthy should not fear a Coronavirus infection – as we never feared the almost certain possibility of “picking up” the Flu or RSV during a week+ long visit. Our older parents always “lost” a day or two back in the hotel room with some sort of virus.

    While not documented (because no one was looking), CMs and visitors alike have unintentionally spread Flu / RSV to older loved ones, and in some cases causing their deaths. While this is a concern for Coronavirus as well, we the people are smart enough to make these risk decisions for ourselves, and protect our family and loved ones by either not visiting WDW, or taking precautions around friends / family members that are at-risk.

    In Sarasota county, only *one* Publix employee tested positive – and they were not wearing masks until the beginning of May – and it is unknown of course where the virus was acquired. We are talking about thousands of employees!

    If you desire is to “stop the spread”, then WDW simply can’t be open. Cotton masks alone are ineffective – and the unique properties of WDW simply will put people in close contact with one another, share bathrooms, share rides – food lines, tables – and the inevitable summer thunderstorms where everyone will huddle together under cover. It could even be argued that masks wold do more harm than good – creating moist surfaces for the virus to survive, and cause excessive face touching. Touching is the real enemy – as there are so many surfaces that CMs and Guests will touch – it will be impossible to “disinfect them all”.

    So I propose that you reopen with hand washing and “sanitation” stations – but you leave everything else the same; while imposing a requirement that those at “high-risk” (age + current health issues) kindly stay home until more data can be gathered. This would go for CMs and visitors – and hopefully WDW with revenue flowing back in (you will be full with under 45’s and no mask requirement) can support your older CMs and CMs with health problems – until more data is gathered and it is safe for them to return to work.

    Protection of your guests AND CMs is always #1 – but we need to keep the magic alive, we WANT to keep the magic alive, and the data supports younger, healthy individual are at no more risk for death than if they contracted other virus (like they always do) while at WDW.

  • Not sure why there are people demanding annual pass refunds if masks are required. Refunds, as well as the option to delay pass payments until the parks reopen, WERE offered if you read your emails. You just have to call and request it. Process was easy and quick. I can’t wait to get back to Disney and know that if masks are required it is for the best for protecting myself and those around me.

  • We are lucky they are even opening, put the masks on or whatever else needed if you want to go. there’s a pandemic. personally we won’t be going at all till numbers are down for several consecutive weeks as the experts recommend.
    nothings changed with the virus. it’s just things are trying to open anyway. two different issues, both a problem.

  • I have been coming to Disney World since 1971. I am now in my 50s and am a APH. I don’t feel masks should be mandatory. I have asthma and they make it difficult at times, especially when the temperature is in the 90s. I personally feel people need to take responsibility and if they are sick, stay home. I would also hope you would take into consideration us Passholders first when you start to open.

  • if anyone’s reading, Disney will comply with the experts for phased reopening which if you click under “set of guidelines” under Dr. Hymel’s letter posted here, it clearly states:
    “Using a layered approach to health and safety, the guidance reinforces various combined measures such as employee and traveler physical distancing, hand hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE) and behaviors before and during the travel continuum.”
    PPE, personal protective gear, includes masks.

    so, if Disney requires them and we want to go, we will wear them, not just because it’s required, but because it’s the responsible thing to do for everyone in the Park, all guests and employees.

  • I see alot of comments on the wear of masks. Disney nor the State of Florida have said anything yet about manditory wear of masks by the general public. So why worry about it? If it’s mandatory make a decision as to whether you want to go to Disney Parks or not wearing this PPE. I wear a mask everyday at work and at various locations on the installation in accordance with established COVID-19 mitigation efforts. If Disney requires the wear of masks, my family and I will comply and enjoy a magical day. Also, plenty of companies and individual entrepreneurs are making masks out of totally breathable materials. Do some research into it and you may find something that will work for you. Personally I hope that part of the incremental openings of the parks include a phased approach of Florida residents, followed by national and International guests to assist in the capacity mitigation efforts.

  • Yeah, mandatory masks will be a deal breaker for me. Annual pass would be canceled in that case. If someone feels the need to wear one fine, but millions of us have already had and recovered from covid. We won’t be spreading anything. No need for us to wear one.

  • If we have to wear a mask I will cancel my passholder account. I know most people have no common sense whatsoever and need the government to tell them what to do. I really feel sorry for you if you fall in this category. Stay home until you’re told it’s safe to walk out your front door and see daylight. Oh yeah, like I was taught by my parents, wash your hands after you go to the bathroom!!! Wake up people!

  • I would be willing to wear a mask when I am waiting in a line, in close proximity to other people, for an extended length of time, but there is no way I would wear a mask all day, It’s too hot in Florida for that. I’ve been an annual pass holder for 20+ years, I really want to continue being a pass holder, and I want to support the parks through this new challenge, but I will be asking for a refund if masks are mandatory. I get lightheaded wearing a mask in the grocery store. There is no way I could last even half a day in a theme park. I probably wouldn’t make it from the parking lot to the turnstiles. Lets be real… how sanitary is my face mask going to be anyway, if I have to keep removing it to wipe sweat of my face, and be able to drink water to stay hydrated. I don’t think it can be done.

  • everyone saying they have asthma, bronchitis, health issues or afraid they’ll pass out in the heat with a mask and that their conditions prevent them from wearing a mask, shouldn’t be going out especially in the crowds at Disney, they are considered most at risk . they’ll have a lot worse problems getting the virus than from just wearing a mask. there’s still a pandemic, the virus is here, transmitting by everyone, sick or not. groups need masks and distancing. it’s another layer of protection for you and protection for others. These requirements are stopping the spread. Masks need to be a requirement to keep everyone at a less risk. This isn’t an individual situation, it’s a situation involving all of us, here and around the country and world.

  • If masks are required me and my family will not return until that’s lifted.

  • If someone wants to wear a mask, it should be their choice. I personally think they are giving people a false sense of security. Unless Disney is giving out CDC approved masks, and not allowing people to wear the cheap ones off the internet, are they really going to help? What about when you need to pull it down to eat, or drink? You will have touched hand rails, seat belts, and restraints…then your face to pull down a mask. People need to protect themselves, use common sense, and not live in fear. My father helped build Main Street, and I am ready to go see his contribution to the happy place on earth…without a mask.

  • So many uninformed people. Wearing a mask doesn’t make you afraid. Wearing a mask doesn’t protect you from getting COVID19. Wearing a mask shows that you care about the people around you. Wearing a mask keeps you from spreading the virus to others when your asymptomatic. I work outside, in Florida, in and out of a truck with no AC all day. It’s been 85 degrees and humid. I wear a mask all day. It’s not that bad. Those complaining about their glasses fogging up. It’s a good thing Dr.s and nurses don’t wear glasses or they’d never be able to wear a mask. If you’re afraid to wear a mask, stay home.

  • I understand everyones concerns but I have not heard anything about how they are going to get people from the hotels to the parks, these buses are over packed all the time. the drivers just keep telling people to push in, its not safe and now add the virus on top of that it makes it impossible to feel safe. Also people who live in Florida feel that they deserve first entry because they live there. Our family is DVC members and annual pass holders we visit the parks
    numberous times of the year and spend just as much money as residents. I think the idea of going to the parks at half day intervals is a good idea. There is so many things to do at the hotels that get overlooked and will be utilized more.

  • I am a Florda Pass Holder; I fully understand the legal and health needs to wear masks BUT I do not see how anyone can ligitimatlely enjoy a day a the Parks wearing a face cover= i.e. mask. To make things functional you’d need to have ALL chatacters wear masks too or the children will never understand this issue. If you do have them wear masks it will totally change the interactions with the kids. Limiting numbers daily, spacing persons out at all times etc is the way to go. MASKS WILL NOT WORK AT THE ” HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH ” Tom on May 10,2020

  • As AP holders I do feel AP holders spend a lot of $ and even though we have only been AP holders for a year, we only just finally realized that it made sense. We have gone at least twice a year for many years & I have been to Disney parks enough times that # is more than twice my age. Loyal customers like AP & DVC holders should be offered first dibs at entry. I mean common we spend so much & to have an AP & not guaranteed entry then it makes no sense to even have the AP. I hope that the masks & such will be lessened depending on the current situation. I am fine with wearing a mask but be aware that I also live in WI so FL heat no matter what time of year will cause higher temps. I think the big thing is if a mask is required I think it should be allowed to be removed for photos & that photopass should be very much available all over the parks as well as if people grab food to eat on the go. Those carts & snacks are important to us & limiting location of eating then takes away from the time we’ve paid for to be in the parks to go places.

  • I fully understand the precautions needed to restart the park and taking it slow. But as a fully paid season pass holder who lives in Florida if I’m am turned away after a three hour drive due to filled capacity or not all attractions or parks opened or I can’t enjoy the parks without a mask on then I should be fully compensated for my pass or have my remaining time plus the time they kept closed reinstated once the parks are fully functional without restrictions. This is just my opinion

  • My husband and I have been annual pass holders for three years and also DVC members. We will return after the mask issue is no longer an issue. Wearing a mask in Florida weather will be very uncomfortable, just think of the little kids! Everyone will be touching their faces so much! mask wearing is not an option, for me. Make mask wearing optional.I was sick in January and didn’t leave our resort room for three days. I think I may be immune now. People need to be smart and I’m really glad to read that hand sanitizer will be available through out the parks. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and don’t touch your face! Good luck with your decisions!

  • Thanks for the effort but I think any mask requirement just won’t work. Too many people aren’t worried enough to do this, especially people going to a theme park. Anything that requires ‘enforcement’ is doomed as the temple from the start.

  • I and my family will follow any and all guidelines that Disney puts out. As to AP or Florida residents only, that would be my one problem. We have a family trip planned for Thanksgiving, 16 of us 2 – 2BR and a studio DVC condos. While my wife and I have AP’s as we come often, the others almost never get to go to WDW and are from Alabama so AP or Florida only kills a family trip planned for 2 years.

  • I respect what Disney is doing in response to this crisis. And I understand why they are working hard to develop policies and procedures to keep its guests healthy and safe. But my wife and I (AP holders) will stay away until the crisis is over and we can attend without wearing masks and life is back to some sense of normalcy. In response to an earlier post, I don’t consider this selfish, just a choice. Since Disney will require wearing a mask (which I understand), I “choose” to stay away until that changes. It costs a great deal of money to visit WDW but with a hot and uncomfortable mask on, the experience for us at least, is no longer worth the cost. See you in a couple of years.

  • I definitely want masks to be enforced…. much safer and if it means being hot…. so be it…. safety first…..

  • Thanks, Disney, for proceeding wisely. Please require masks for the safety of guests (including my asthmatic child) and those who work at the parks. We are passholders and can not wait to come back to the parks and to stay at the resorts- but we only wish to do so with safety measures in place.

  • As a Florida APH and a contractor, building and installing items for all Disney parks and resorts, I appreciate maximum effort devoted to safety and wellness. Masks are a perfectly acceptable mandatory requirement. Walt’s dream for the parks was that they should be accessible to ALL.
    The number of people old and young that visit may or may not know if catching this virus could impact their health or even cost them their life. Not to mention the possibility of catching it at the park and carrying it back home, infecting people on the trip and home community. The number of senior citizens that love working at the parks is extremely high. In addition to all the cast members who depend on this work as their livelihood who may be immunocomprimised or go home to a loved one that is. This should be the concern of all decent people in this world and every lover of Disney’s creations. Disney stories and characters uphold values of empathy, love, goodness, and making the world a better place for everyone. I hope the selfishness and materialistic comments displayed in some of these replies will not discourage the majority of us from caring about the values embodied in everything that is good about Disney parks and resorts. Wearing a mask and keeping your distance is not just about projecting yourself, it’s about protecting everyone. Jiminy Cricket has clearly got his work cut out for him spreading some conscience and guidance around.

  • I would take no issue with a mask requirement. The purpose of the mask is to protect the people around you, not yourself. If you are not willing to take the well-being of other human beings into consideration, I support your boycott and hope you enjoy looking at pictures of the World from your couch!

  • My wife has asthma. Could we have days or periods that are masked mandatory & mask optional. That way there’s something for everyone. It would be nice if the anti-mask people would be more aware that at risk people would like to have the opportunity to do more also. We all deserve a little quality of life.

  • Thank you Disney for caring about your guests and employees. I am a Florida resident and a Passholder for many years and wearing a face mask is not going to deter me from going to Disney on the contrary it will make us feel more secure to know that Disney is taking this virus seriously.
    And yes I know that when we eat and drink we have to remove our masks.

  • I think limiting access to Florida residents only (while pushing back the expiration date for others) is a good way to help reduce numbers in the park and the spread of the virus outside state (and country) lines.

    Of course none of this is ideal, but it’s the new normal. Get used to it. In most states you can’t go anywhere without masking up, so why should Disney be any different?

  • My family is eager to get back to WDW, we have an October booking, I have no apprehensions about going to the parks, as there is no vaccine or cure currently I believe that it’s pointless to just hide, I believe herd immunity is the only possible option right now and why not enjoy it while we are exposing, if we continue the current course there may be nothing to return to. When do treasures like WDW give up and pack it in if they can’t be what they were…if you’re sick or weak, continue to hide, me…I’m sick of hiding, gimme back my life…I want some Disney

  • Thank you for taking the proper precautions for the good of public health, Disney. If people don’t want to wear a mask and abide by the rules, then they can simply, stay home.
    As a long time passholder, our family appreciates your safety efforts, leadership and care of for our community.

  • I’m in for whatever the magical place requires to protect me and my daughter. We wear masks and gloves to go out anyways now. I totally support your rules by all means. People that are complaining about wearing a mask doesn’t take this serious and I wish you all the best. My daughter and I have been APH for about 4 years and we’ll continue our passes weather a mask is required or not . I want to protect my daughter and will do whatever they require. Thanks Disney for looking out for our safety. What you do will be fine with me. I don’t have a problem with whatever you require just to be able to go back to Disney. My daughter and I have missed you all very much!!!!! Can’t wait til you open!!!!! Thanks again Disney you’re amazing place.

  • Lmao…anyone on here kevetching about their passes and entry really have no clue as to what the next few years look like. Reality check is an order

  • Not our first choice, however, until viable Covid-19 vaccines are widely available, please require masks be worn by all persons while on Disney Property. To date, my wife and I have had 3 scheduled 11 night WDW resort stays cancelled for us due to this virus, we are hoping our 3 remaining 2020 scheduled trips will have happier, more ‘magical’ results. Thanks for all you do!

  • Thank you for the update. The efforts to protect guests safety is always a priority by cast members and I believe you all do a fantastic job given the volume of guests you strive to protect. I understand the fear that involves comments from clients in support of a mask but truthfully I will NOT repurchase my annual pass if wearing a mask becomes a normal daily occurrence to enter a Disney property. Whilst I understand the requirement fo clients to enter during phase 1 and I agree but I also know that I won’t attend during that time personally and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone that opportunity if that’s the choice they want to make. I believe people should have the option to wear a mask after phase 1 otherwise you will be alienating a large group of people who believe in choice and free will. Thank you for thinking of guest safety but pls see past the initial scope.

  • Let’s all be supportive of how Disney plans on starting up again, they know how to do things right! The magic will happen once again.

  • It will super fun to see all the ride photos and character pics of everyone in their masks.

  • I’m all for wearing a mask if it’s going to protect me and my family from people that don’t stay home when they’re sick. I’ve got a daughter and she’ll wear her mask all the time while we’re there for protection. If you don’t want to follow the rules stay home. They’re doing it for your protection and I’ll do whatever they require you to do. Just being able to go will bring me pleasure. I’ve missed the Walt Disney World and the happiness there. Whenever you need a peaceful place to go it’s the trip to Disney World.

  • First off, thank you Disney for working on things and trying to keep a safe, fun, environment for everyone to enjoy again! My husband, myself and our special needs immune compromised son will not be able to attend Disney unless wearing mask are mandatory for ride lines, certain rides, and shows (depending on the ability to socially distance). Obviously eating at the Disney property restaurants, wearing a mask would be a challenge and kind of silly and I expect they will have some type of distancing with seating areas and/or more outdoor seating so people do not need to wear a mask.
    We don’t expect everyone to follow a mask rule (will will be wearing them) but it would be nice to know there are certain areas that are mandatory for the protection of yourself and others… especially the immune compromised person. Disney is known for their incredible ability to cater to people with all types of disabilities so I think a mask enforcement is something that should definitely be looked at. Or if there could be a special disability line (like the pass) but an actual line for the rides or special seating to help keep the person safe and not waiting around people who are not wearing mask. Just an idea.
    Regardless, we are very confident that Disney will come up with an exceptional plan to allow everyone to bring the magic back with 6ft hugs and Mickey smiles and most importantly keeping people safe! We can’t wait!

  • I also will not visit if mask are required. Forcing the public to wear mask is a form of fear mongering. Its a constant subconscious reminder to be fearful.

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