No one wants to wear a mask. Seriously, no one. So believe me when I tell you that from the most defiant of naysayers to the pro-mask wearing front-runners, no one is wearing them because they enjoy it. Masks serve a purpose, and whether you want to wear one or not, it's easy to follow the logic in them, especially if you have seen any 1 of the 50,000 Facebook memes explaining it.
While I am not able to leave Australia at the moment to come back to the parks, a mask wouldn't be the first uncomfortable thing I've had to wear. Those warmer Florida months can be stifling and I am rarely a fan of any backpack in the heat, or hat for that matter. And while we are on the subject of uncomfortable things we persist with, hands up those of you who enjoy the feeling of that metal underwire in your bra wrapped against your chest on those over-100-degree days. Anyone? No.
Yet still, I wear all of the above for the good of my family, and those around me on that last one.
If you are planning on returning to the parks and are struggling with the idea of wearing a mask, I thought we might quickly run through a few ways to reshape your thinking. Not as to whether or not you should have to, or need to, but to make you feel better about the fact that you will have to.
It's not a debate, or a question, or any single opinion, just a different way to look at the situation that might help your overall outcome if you are wanting to get back into the Disney action.
Change Your Outlook
It's easy to fall into the trap of rigid thinking, telling yourself that you don't have a choice, and becoming outraged. The truth is, you do have a choice. Your choice is expressed in either your decision to visit during these times or your preference to put off your trip until things have improved.
Think less about the fact that you will need to wear one and take comfort in knowing that everyone else will be too. Think of all the germs you could be stuck with if others were not wearing a mask, and I'm not just talking about this pandemic we are facing. Have you ever had a tummy bug while traveling? Or suddenly come down with a debilitating, flu-like cold, or any one of the many things that negatively affected us before COVID-19?
There is nothing magical about it. Masks, however, mean that all of those nasty germs might just stay out of reach, or better yet, out of the parks entirely, leaving you with that stress-free vacation you've always wanted.
Start focusing on the benefits to your family that come from others wearing them and less on the inconvenience that you will be too.
Book for the Cooler Months Ahead
If the heat is what is deterring you from making peace with the idea of wearing a mask, then take the opportunity to book now for those cooler months ahead.
If you picture yourself and your family walking around in more relaxed conditions, you might find the idea of wearing one less intrusive. In less-stifling temperatures, your mask is sure to be a little more comfortable, and less likely to feel so overwhelming and irritating.
If you suffer from allergies or anything that affects you on a seasonal basis, avoid visiting in times where you would be tempted to remove your mask. Sometimes my allergies equal itchy skin, watery eyes, and sniffing, all of which make masked life more difficult. Take out the variable and give yourselves the best chance at a less irritating time in the parks.
Find a Design that Expresses your Personality
We know that you will need to keep your mask on at all times other than when you are actively eating or drinking (while stationary, that is!). With this in mind, take the time to spend a few extra dollars to get masks that express your personalities. Just like our choice in MagicBands, accessories, and apparel, what you wear to the parks can make you feel special and part of the magic.
Take some time to really choose the right mask for each member of your family. Something that reflects who they are and will make you giggle looking back at goofy photos. Try shopDisney.com masks or our very own DIS masks where you can upload your own designs!
I actually saw just the other day that some companies are now making special masks that look almost identical to the bottom half of your face, appearing as though you are wearing nothing but your usual smile, even if you aren't underneath. Some of them are so convincing they can even unlock the facial recognition on your smartphone.
Who knows, instead of mouths open and screaming faces, you might even end up with that perfect ride photo after all!
Practice at Home
Okay, okay, I can hear some of those eye-rolls from down under. Seriously though, if you are heading to the parks and wondering how you will cope wearing a mask most of the time when you don't at home, give it a try before you go. Especially if you have children. Get them used to how it will feel ahead of time to save any difficult meltdowns for first-time wearing in those days to come.
Make a game out of it. See who can leave their mask on the longest to earn $10 spending money towards your trip. Or practice using them when everyone is distracted while watching a movie or TV show. If your child is struggling, try starting the process while doing something they love that usually captures their attention.
I know what you are thinking; if you hate using them why would you do it more than absolutely necessary? And you aren't wrong in theory, but in practice; it's the same reason we train for anything: to get better at it.
If you all of a sudden had to wear an eye patch or a cast on your arm, it would feel awkward and incredibly uncomfortable, but in time, you get used to it - wearing a mask will, too. Preempt that difficulty by getting past the hard part in your own time, making your days in the parks less challenging with those early annoyances.
Commit to a Good Attitude
Many of the people I speak to feel their biggest concerns are for their children. One thing I know for sure is that your children will look to you for how they should feel. Whether you are down for the greater good or forced to wear them against your will, make sure that you keep those feelings out of your children's reach if you expect them to wear one amicably when you arrive.
Our kids absorb everything around them. If you give them an example of defiant, difficult behavior, they are sure to mimic that and find fault with wearing a mask themselves. Instead, try to put on a happy face. Make it fun for them (this is where those two suggestions above come in), making practicing at home into a game and letting them choose a design they think is fun and exciting to wear. Just like any other Disney accessory.
I am not saying you have to like it, but to make it easier for your children, if you plan on visiting the parks, fake it.
Once you are onsite, those little changes you have made along the way might help you to feel more at ease with the process. And while you are totally within your rights to despise the practice as much as humanly possible, the end goal is to make your time in the parks as enjoyable as possible. Let that be your focus, not using this time to rebel and lament, but to do your best to let go of any reservations and enjoy your visit.
Even with your mask in place, don't forget to keep a social distance from others. One of the perks of being in the parks at the moment is much lower crowd numbers, so there is no excuse for not making use of all the extra space.
If you still decide not to go, I completely get it, it is an added complication that isn't for everyone, however, if you do venture out to the magic of Disney, I hope you enjoy every moment of it.