As summer arrives, families are cautiously deciding if it's safe to travel with unvaccinated children. And if they do decide to go on vacation, they're determining the best locations to travel as a family. For many who are looking forward to some fun and entertainment after a very trying year and a half, that place is Disneyland.
In fact, according to Michael Erstad, a senior analyst at research firm M Science, Disneyland spending levels more than doubled week on week as the park began selling tickets to out-of-state visitors on May 26th.
Prior to entering Disneyland, the state of California strongly recommends that all guests be fully vaccinated or obtain a negative COVID-19 test. Additionally, cleaning procedures have been enhanced throughout the resort and adjustments have been made to increase physical distancing and reduce contact when not necessary.
As the population continues to get vaccinated, Disney's mask guidelines have recently been updated. Per Disney's website, "While face coverings are required for all Guests while in Disney buses, monorail and Disney Skyliner, they are now optional in most areas for Guests who are fully vaccinated. While we do not require proof of vaccination, we expect Guests who are not fully vaccinated to continue wearing face coverings in all indoor locations and upon entering and throughout all attractions and transportation."
For those families who wish to visit Disneyland with unvaccinated children, are these protocols enough? We spoke with a pediatrician to find out more.
Pediatrician, mom of three and founder of children's brand Ahimsa, Dr. Manasa Mantravadi, tells Motherly it's all about the age of your children and who has been vaccinated. "Since vaccines are not yet available for children under age 12, traveling with young kids still poses a risk of contracting COVID in this age group. However if you are vaccinated and your children are vaccinated, the risk of infection is quite low when visiting a theme park with large crowds."
Mantravadi continues, "While most cases of COVID-19 in children are mild, I have personally taken care of patients who have been hospitalized and have suffered though the rare Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MISC) condition seen in children. As a pediatrician and a mother of three young kids who do not yet qualify for the vaccine, I personally don't yet feel comfortable with attending a theme park."
Instead, Mantravidi and her family have chosen to travel to places based on a lower risk of infection. "Visiting locations with lower rates of community spread, participating in outdoor activities rather than indoors, taking road trips instead of public transportation can all be lower risk methods to still re-integrating into a more 'normal' summer with your children."
Although she is vaccinated, when traveling outside of the home with her young children, Mantravadi tells Motherly, "I continue to wear a mask indoors, practice social distancing and frequent hand-washing. I do this simply to set a good example and show solidarity with them since they are unvaccinated. As parents, modeling good behavior can be instrumental in helping children understand the why and how behind these important actions to keep them safe."
As Disneyland continues its phased reopening (Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel is set to reopen June 15 and the Disneyland Hotel will reopen on July 2nd with reduced capacity), we hope that park staff will continue to be vigilant about safety procedures and COVID protocols and guests will continue wearing masks where appropriate.
It is the happiest place on Earth, after all (and will be even happier when everyone who visits is vaccinated and safe).