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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


  • How about wearing a mask because it’s the right thing to do (not just because it’s mandatory) because it protects the other person from you .
    You can be carrying the virus, since it’s transmitted without symptoms and since it’s not gone just because things are opening.
    Why do people think it’s ok to not do their fair share of responsibility in a pandemic, protecting other guests and the employees if they want to go so bad?
    limiting and even stopping the spread of this virus when millions are sick and dying and mourning losses of loved ones…..all ages, kids, adults, grandparents, even strong healthy people and that should matter more than an inconvenience.

  • We have reservations in July and if you are open, we will be there! I have no issue wearing a mask but I would hope there is some flexibility in the rules for young kids (even the CDC recommendations have allowances for kids under 2), particularly given the hot summer months and higher potential for overheating. Thank you for all you are doing to reopen the parks in the safest way possible. Stay safe and be well!

  • no one should have the “option” to wear a mask or not , when you are on someone else’s property and it’s to protect other people there. Risking other people isnt your choice. Places are only opening IF Pandemic precautions are in place to protect people, otherwise they still remain closed. Disney, the property owners, have options to open, what they do when opened in a pandemic or to stay closed a little longer. Based on their decisions, we will make our decisions. Guests only option is to go or not go.

  • Thank you for all you are doing to keep guests and cast members safe! Please consider making masks OPTIONAL for guests. I’m an annual passholder and our family of 5 has traveled to numerous Disney parks (including Disneyland Paris!) for years visiting 3-4 times per year. We LOVE Disney! We have a trip planned for November 2020 but would consider canceling if masks are mandatory.

  • I just read that Bob Chapek is going to require guests to wear masks. If this is the case, please either extend the AP expiration date to account for the period that guests are required to wear masks, or let passholders know how they can obtain a refund for their passes. I know that you are looking at your experience in Shanghai, but China has a very different culture from the U.S.

  • If some want to wear a mask, that is fine, however, please do not make this mandatory. If would be horrible to walk around Disney pulling a mask on and off to eat, drink or talk. That being said, can’t wait to get back to the parks!

  • No masks…..if you are worried or at risk stay home.

  • I would rather not wear a mask but I would be ok with masks wile waiting in lines or on rides, but feel like while walking around outside it would be unnecessary. Also I think people will constantly be removing masks to drink and eat so they are going to inadvertently contaminate their masks anyways. Proper hand washing would be the most effective solution. Hand sanitizing stations going into a ride and coming off a ride as well as in and out of restaurants and retail shops.

  • We moved to Florida to enjoy the magic of Disney. I don’t enjoy wearing a mask but will gladly do so for my safety. Hopefully this nightmare is short lived and a vaccine will be available within the year. It gets very hot in Florida and wearing a mask will not be fun but I think it’s worth the discomfort to be able to enjoy the park. For those who choose not to wear it, this may not be the time to enjoy the parks. Wait until a vaccine is available.

  • We won’t be wearing masks. I’m perfectly OK with temperature checks. We already carried sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer. Masks for guests should be at their own discretion. I simply will not spend the time we spend in the parks which are open to close, with a mask on. I’d be completely MISERABLE and the money would just be wasted.

  • I believe in:
    See you soon.
    Safety and good health to all!

  • Thank you for keeping us informed. I look forward to learning more when WDW gets closer to opening. I am happy to wear a face covering/mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. I wear one to the grocery store now. Why wouldn’t I wear one to Disney? Of course, most of the people I see in the store are not wearing masks.

  • I am pleased and admire Disney for using all of the expertise available to them, to make the best possible choices in the guests best interest. They are thinking first and foremost about the health and safety for guests and cast members. This situation won’t last forever and for those who don’t find wearing a mask or maintaining social distancing fits into their expectations or fantasy, maybe it would be better to wait until a later phase when things are a little more settled. The parades will be back, spectacular fireworks will happen and meet and greets will thrill the children; it just won’t be right away. As Disney does its best possible to make dreams come true, it’s up to us dedicated Disney fans to do the same. Disney World will always be my happiest on earth. See you in September. 🥰

  • Thank you for working on a solution to open Walt Disney World. We appreciate your attention to making it a safe place to have a fun family vacation. We will gladly wear masks; in fact we have already ordered some from shopDisney. We have a family trip planned in October and are looking forward to a safe return to a Disney Resort and all the Parks.

  • Today is mother’s day. As a senior i haven’t seen my kids or grandkids in person since early March, due to the pandemic. Today we decided to visit in person. We still social distanced outside in the yard and wore masks so we don’t risk infecting each other, even though we arent sick, just in case we are carriers or have been contaminated. This is the CDC guidelines, health experts recommendations, common sense and because we care and love each other. We would absolutely wear masks or follow any other rules if we were guests at Disney because we care about everyone, not just ourselves.

  • There are rules about not smoking in enclosed restaurants and bars because that smoke can be deleterious to someone else’s health. Smoking is banned in the parks which I love!
    Now we’re in a situation where, if youre infected with the Covid-19 virus, your breath can be lethal to someone else.
    It’s selfish to not wear a mask. Period!

  • Thank you Disney for doing everything you can to make sure guest and CMs are safe. We are local platinum plus pass holders and fully support the mandatory mask. It’s about keeping people as safe as possible and we can’t wait to return back to the parks.

  • Thank you for working on a solution to get the parks and hotels open. This is a difficult time for all of us. I’m looking forward to a safe return to the hotels and parks and appreciate your efforts finding a way back to the magic.

  • I find all the comments about not wearing masks interesting.

    Many Walt Disney World Character Cast Members wear masks. Some wear very hot masks even the hot Florida Summertime.

    I will be very happy to wear my very light mask over my nose and mouth that I wear every day if Walt Disney World requires it.

    Surely if the character cast members Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse can wear their full headgear and Pluto and Donald Duck can also wear full-body gear, I can wear a simple mask.

    Many guests don’t realize they could be infected and not know it because the symptoms don’t show up until much later.

    “The respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 typically appear an average of 5-6 days after exposure, but may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
    COVID-19 › coronavirus › Pages › FAQ”

    I guess many guests may not be thinking about this.

    Empathy for all is important.

  • Families coming to visit Disney World are doing so to get away from everyday life. That is why it’s generally called a vacation. No one on vacation is going to want to worry about wearing a mask, especially at Disney World! Furthermore, if people are so worried about catching something in the first place, then maybe they should avoid the parks all together until they feel more comfortable about going. Masks should NOT be required, but they should be made available to guests who would like to wear one. And I don’t agree with cast members having to wear a mask either… simply because part of the Disney experience is seeing all the friendly smiles on the faces of the cast members. Making them wear a mask takes that away. I can just imagine how miserable a trip to Disney World would be if everyone had to wear a mask, especially considering how hot it gets there, then having to hear the children crying because they don’t want to wear a mask, or because they are already too warm, etc…. Doesn’t sound like a fun family trip anymore.

  • 6 platinum passes and about 5 weeks worth of annual stays going out the door if required to wear masks. Kids wont keep them on, the heat in Florida causes dozens to faint or get ill in the parks as it is, let alone with face coverings…and most people dont wear them properly and have their hands all over their face adjusting them anyway.

  • I’m not wearing a mask outside in the Florida heat. Inside on rides, yes. If wearing a mask 24/7 at the park is a requirement, I will wait until that changes.

  • I trust Disney to be very measured in their decision making and their approach with the reopening process. My family and I will wear masks gladly. In fact, we look forward to Disney making some cool masks for its passholders. 🙂

  • People still don’t seem to understand I wear a mask to knock down the travel distance of my exhalations which protects YOU. I depend on you wearing a mask to knock down the travel distance of your exhalations to protect ME. Blow cigarette smoke at me without a mask and with a mask and you will see the effect of the mask. Disney is requiring masks at their park in Shanghai so I’m pretty sure masks will be required at DisneyLand and DisneyWorld when they re-open.

  • My daughter and son-in-law are both healthcare workers in Boston. Having washed what’s going on with the pandemic I sincerely feel that it is selfish and irresponsible not to be willing to wear a mask in public. If a mask make sure that uncomfortable either stay in the house or hang out in Public or stateparks where you can easily Stay at least 6 feet away from everybody else. I think it’s wonderful that Disney is opening in such a way that will protect their customers and their cast members. Thanks Disney.

  • I do not think masks or distancing should be mandatory. The parks can resume normal rules and security

  • Thank you for the update and the information. Speaking for myself, I will be wearing a mask and I will be happy to follow all Walt Disney World requirements. Masks are for protecting others if the person is infected and doesn’t know it because of no symptoms, yet. And for me for the same reason and as extra protection from others.

    With the opening of Shanghai Disney and with the opening of I have been following the Shanghai Disney video of how they may start their guest’s rules for entering the parks and their guest requirements. I feel confident that WDW will study what works and make adaptions for WDW for things that don’t. And to do the same thing for Disney Springs opening of non-Disney restaurants and stores.

    And I believe that Walt Disney World might set the standard for the rest of the world in how businesses might open during this uncertain time.

    I hope to still be able to visit Disneyland someday even though I am an Annual Pass holder at WDW. After all, watching TV at a friend’s house on Sundays of Mr. Walt Disney’s Disneyland shows got me addicted even though I was never able to attend as a child.

    Using a wheelchair, Disney offers me so many, many options. Walt Disney World’s DME bus picks me up and deliver’s to their WDW roll-in shower resort room. WDW’s buses, boat taxis, monorail, and Skyliner carry me anywhere inside WDW. And the ability to enjoy the parks in my wheelchair.

    I realize some things may have to change in WDW transportation and parks.

    But I need that “feel like a child” experience and that nonjudgemental feeling that is not always available elsewhere in my life.

    If allowed…I can’t wait to “SEE YA REAL SOON” Disney!


  • Some real sad posts here. Looks like there are still a lot of you who just don’t get it until you do get it then u will be the first to complain that disney didn’t do enough to protect. I also think Disney should open up in Florida to Florida residents only in the first phase. Otherwise we will have New York and Massachusetts. So hope the people who r so against putting safety rules in place really don’t show up that leaves more room for the rest of use who really do care about others.

  • Looks like the attendance problem is already solved—half of the people making comments won’t go if required to wear masks. problem solved.

  • Let’s be realistic, friends. If you are in a high risk category and/or worried about contracting this virus, Disney should be the last place you are considering going. The sheer number of people makes sanitization and distancing an impossibility. It will never be possible to keep masks on everyone. It is unrealistic. Let all of the low risk people go, get the virus and recover, and then we can have enough herd immunity to move on with our lives!

  • I’m ready to visit WDW again and I hope all of us to be wearing masks!
    I wish WDW hotel guests and annual pass holders have the option of longer extra magic hours at the beginning and end of the days for all parks to decompress the high volume of visitors during day time.

  • Hey, just saying. Whether mask or no mask, it doesn’t matter. Disney and Florida will make that decision. So stop wasting your time talking about it.

  • I work during the day
    and enjoy walking around
    a park for an hour or o at night. Will I be able to get in? I look at the weather and decide at the last moment if I am not to tired from work to visit. It is a two or three evening a week thing that I enjoy. Will I be able to still do this?

  • For now, Masks should be worn by everyone. Costco has implemented this policy successfully and it has been well received.

  • For those of you who think masks are the end all be all, you should look into the studies of excessive carbon dioxide, and the adverse affects, it only takes 60 minutes to start down that road, and your not going to the park for only an hour or two, headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, are just some of the symptoms, just think of the person wearing the N95 mask for an extended period of time that passed out, and crashed into a tree while driving her car, now think running around a theme park all day, kids and strollers in tow on a hot summers day, not practical or wise. If we simply use social distancing, good hygiene, maybe every other ride car, where possible, and six foot distancing at the restaurants, people should do just fine, if that sounds too dangerous for you, I understand, and maybe you should stay in lock down a bit longer, as for me I’ve been out working the entire time, driving a big truck, delivering food, and I have no plans to stay inside.

  • Not trying to be negative I understand the importance of mask, just wondering about children under the age of 5 and people with Autism or other sensory issues? We have a trip booked for July 6th my son who is 3 I might be able to keep a mask on but my other son with nonverbal autism and sensory issues I just don’t know how it will work for him. We are practicing it but when he is done he is done.

  • The requirement for wearing a mask is not ridiculous. It’s for everyone’s protection. Disney is a stand-up organization looking to make good judgment and treat its employees and cast members with respect. If you don’t want to wear a mask, go some place that does not respect your health.

  • We are Disney Passholders,who live about 90 minutes from the parks. We are encouraged by the steps you are taking. We are over 65. I heard that we would not be able to return until 2021. I would like to know if this is true. We frequent the parks (staying on property for at least 3-4 nights) and this our mini staycation. Thank you for keeping us informed

  • It appears to me that Dr. Hymel is a medical professional. She is working with the CDC and other health organizations to do the best, BEST, that can be done in this situation. If PPE are required for health and safety, than so be it. What I have been reading in the comments is personal opinion, “I won’t go unless..” seems to be a rather selfish outlook. “I” being the operative word. We have such a glorious country that ‘I’ is more important that ‘we’ or ‘us’. The reform movement brought about child labor laws and weekends, 40 hour work weeks etc. I am positive this was a great inconvenience for many. We Americans balk at being required to do something uncomfortable. I know I do. I am one small person in the grand scheme of things, my opinion is not based on medical background or viral control. It is based on my comfort and experience. I want to go to WDW resort, I am an annual pass holder, my sister and I made reservations for our last week of passholdership (if that is a word) and now we are excited that we will have more weeks to visit our ‘home’. I am trying to find the most comfortable mask to wear as possible, not because I am afraid of the virus or that I will catch it, I have been ill before, horribly ill and have recovered. I will wear a mask out of respect for those who feel threatened by the virus. Just like not bringing a peanut butter sandwich to a space occupied by someone allergic to peanuts is respectful. I am not giving up my ‘selfness’ by helping others feel more comfortable than I will feel. If I am to visit the home of Cinderella & Snow White, the least I can do is emulate their kindness and generosity of spirit.

  • well after reading all these comments it appears there’s a lot of people that are refusing to wear masks, even in a pandemic and even though it’s recommended by the experts and is common sense, it’s not just protecting you, it’s protecting everyone, you can be a carrier and not even know it. So if Disney goes by percentage of guest responses, or by the demands people are making for their money back, then that will be sad and we will wait until this pandemic is over.

  • For those that are afraid of doing anything without the mask or even going anywhere until there is a “vaccine”, then good for them, stay home and let all of us who want to go out enjoy it. I’m not going to sit around and be afraid for the rest of my life and I choose not to wear a mask. If people want to wear a mask, then do so, and those that don’t want to, don’t. For those of you who are offended by my comment, oh well, my feelings are if I get sick then I at least had enjoyment in my life rather than sitting around depressed and worried all of the time. I want to get back to the parks to laugh and feel good about having a great time. I don’t want to feel like I’m being imprisoned into only enjoying myself at great discomfort.

  • As a family of 3, we’re thankful that Disney cares about their customers. Please do not open too early!!!! We want to be safe and not worry while we’re having a great time at all of the Disney parks. We agree wholeheartedly that masks should be REQUIRED and gloves too, if they’re provided. We’d feel the safest if you didn’t open until after the summer months (the busy season), but instead, somewhere between September and the end of the year. Again, thank you from our family.

  • Masks/face coverings should be mandatory. If you don’t want to wear a mask, then wait until the mandatory mask policy ends and then come visit. You’ll live until that time. There are plenty of other places you can visit, like the beach, without a mask. Definitely open with FL residents and annual FL resident passholders only. Florida residents only for the time being. I don’t know if temperature checking will work anyway since you can have CV and not experience symptoms…all the more reason to make masks mandatory. This FL resident annual passholder can’t wait to get back to the happiest place on earth!! Already looking for a cute, trendy mask on Etsy to match the rest of my Disney wardrobe!

  • Do not require masks for customers. They are a joke and carry germs. Masks are not required in Florida. Instead require temperature checks and practice good hygiene, such as regular handwashing and cleaning surfaces. My family will cancel our hotel reservations and request a refund for our AP if we are required to wear a mask.

  • Orange County does not require masks at all. Osceola County is requiring them INSIDE. I know WDW spans both of these counties, but neither is requiring masks outside, so I don’t think WDW should either. Are you aware, that if a mask gets damp or wet (like from sweating), it ceases to be effective?

  • I know you’re doing the best you can but we’ve only had our annual passes for a month before all of this happened. This is probably not going to be the experience we had in mind. Will passholders have an option to cancel our annual passes?

  • Disney cannot open the parks with mandatory mask restrictions. Everyone in the parks will have to take their masks off to eat and drink thereby defeating the purpose of wearing the masks. I will be at WDW in September without a mask. For those of you who are afraid of me for not wearing a mask, I suggest you stay put in your sterile homes. The outside world cannot be sterilized. We are bombarded with pathogenic bacteria and mutating viruses every day. We adapt and survive and we have fun at Disney. Ps: If you don’t have Disney+, get it. It has exceptional entertainment for the entire family.

  • I don’t mind people wearing masks, we do not. For those that want to stay home until everyone is required to wear a mask. Please stay home. Personally we are looking forward to when Disney reopens! We retired last June and bought annual passes in the fall and are so looking forward to going back! Can’t wait!! Thank you Disney for all you’re doing to get ready for us!!

  • Masks are for sick people to protect the healthy, or for medical professionals to maintain a sterile environment during procedures. People wearing masks breath in their own expectorated particles and if worn for long periods of time can cause difficulty breathing, especially in heat! Considering the controversary WEARING MASKS SHOULD BE OPTIONAL! If people are that worried about getting sick they should stay home!! If wearing a mask is required I will not attend the parks and I will cancel my pass.

  • Our silver passes expired end of April and we are blocked out for the summer. How will this work for extensions to our pass and what is the cut off dates for us? Also…….. PLEASE start carrying items made in the USA! I literally could not find one item made in USA when buying souvenirs. Unacceptable to not support our own country.

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