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Things Disney Employees Aren’t Allowed to Do Anymore

Walt Disney World has reopened, but ongoing coronavirus precautions means things aren't the same as they used to be for the people who work there.

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Disney changes in the age of COVID

We’re thrilled that Walt Disney World has reopened after it’s long hiatus this spring due COVID-19 precautions. If you’re planning on visiting soon, you’ll be happy to know that new Disney health and safety measures for both guests and employees (always called “cast members” in Disney lingo) are among the most comprehensive in the country, and Disney is leading by example with mask compliance, enhanced sanitation, social distancing, and crowd control. Before the pandemic, cast members already followed Disney etiquette rules, but the latest pandemic protocols mean updated ways of welcoming guests and new rules to follow which include things they can’t do anymore, including the ones below. While we were all staying at home this past spring, this is what was happening at Disney while the parks were closed.

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Walk around unmasked

Disney has strict rules about guests wearing masks at the parks and the same rules apply to the people who work there, no matter what their job is. You’ll never see a cast member, whether it’s a ride attendant, boat captain, or cleaning staff, without a mask in public. In fact, cast members recently helped design the masks you’ll see them wearing around the parks. Most characters already wear gloves, so they were already practicing good hand hygiene before the pandemic!

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Give big character hugs

This is a tough change for cast members and guests alike: Costumed characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, all the princesses, and the rest of the Disney gang can no longer physically interact with guests, meaning no big bear hugs or even high fives. But all is not lost. With traditional parades and character greetings on hiatus to promote physical distancing among guests, says Disney, theme park character experiences have been reimagined in new and different ways, including cavalcades (mini surprise parades) down Main Street, at Magic Kingdom, to characters sailing down Discovery River at Animal Kingdom. So get ready to take a socially distanced selfie and snap your favorite character from afar. This is what it felt like to be at Disney world opening week.

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Flash a big toothy grin

We know they’re still happy to see us, but with masks on, it’s no longer possible for anyone at the parks to flash a big grin or a warm smile. But even though mask-wearing is mandatory, cast members are still “s’mizing” aka “smiling with their eyes” when they welcome you to the parks. It’s not just Disney where the rules are changing, currently, flight attendants aren’t allowed to do these 10 things anymore.

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Assume all guests are healthy

New health protocols mean cast members need to be on the alert for guests who may be exhibiting signs of coronavirus, and it means that you’ll have a quick temperature scan when you enter the theme park. According to Disney, “those with temperatures of 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry; those in their party will not be allowed entry either.” Here are 12 things you need to know if you’re planning on visiting Disney soon.

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Search through bags at security

A trip to Disney has always meant waiting on line, starting with the ones to enter the park and to traverse security where a guard used to look through bags and backpacks. Now with contact minimized, guards no longer search guests’ bags. Instead, you’ll walk through the metal detectors and hold your bag. But do yourself a favor and place your metal objects—phone, keys, change—into a separate plastic bag to put in a plastic bin, saving yourself the headache of having to open your bag and showing all the items to the guards.

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Take a picture with your camera or phone

You’ll have to get really good at extending your arm to take selfies (or maybe learn how to use the timer!) since cast members can’t take your photo anymore—and selfie sticks are on the list of prohibited items you can’t bring to Walt Disney World. Disney’s photographers are still on hand though to record your group in front of the Magic Castle for a masked memory of your visit.

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Ask you to fill in every available space

For anyone who’s been to Disney parks in the past, you’re probably familiar with the popular refrain to “move all the way in and fill every available seat” or space. Now, however with social distancing measures in place, most rides have empty spaces between riders, and attractions with benches, such as the Enchanted Tiki Room in the Magic Kingdom, are keeping plenty of room between guests, so no need to squish up (a big perk if you ask us). These 20 photos will define the age of social distancing.

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Trade pins with you

If you’re a Disney fan, you most likely have a cache of collectible Disney pins. These limited edition souvenirs—often worn on decorative lanyards or waist pouches—are a Disney tradition, equally fun to collect and to trade. In the past, cast members would trade their pins with any guest who asked, but now that practice is on hold while social distancing measures are in place. Instead, according to Disney, guests can trade pins through the use of pinboards in select locations.

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Have you scan your fingerprint

This probably won’t come as too big a surprise, but putting your bare finger on a scanner that hundreds of other people have touched is no longer going to be the way to enter the parks, so cast members will no longer be asking guests to have their fingerprints scanned. Here’s what to know about staying at a Disney resort hotel right now.

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Hand you a menu

Gone are the days of menus touched by multiple hands before it reaches your seat. Disney has implemented a savvy system of digital QR codes that allow you to order with just a few easy taps with mobile ordering off digital menus. It’s menu magic technology, says Disney, that limits contact and is simple to use. On your next visit, leave time to sample these epic Disney foods at least once.

Sources:

  • Disney Park Blogs: “Disney Parks Commitment to Health & Safety Measures”
  • Disney Park Blogs: “For Cast, By Cast – New Face Coverings Roll Out Across Domestic Disney Parks”

Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.