Florida theme parks, attractions ease mask and other COVID rules ahead of Memorial Day

·10 min read

Are you planning a South Florida staycation this summer? A road trip to the theme parks in Orlando?

Whatever your plans, masks are no longer required everywhere you go. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 don’t need to wear a mask, except in certain places. Anyone who is not fully vaccinated should still wear a mask, the CDC advises.

But some businesses have opted to still have COVID safety rules everyone needs to follow, which means life isn’t completely back to normal.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect at Disney, Universal, Zoo Miami, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and other Florida attractions:

Are masks required at Zoo Miami, Jungle Island and Monkey Jungle? What about at Lion Country Safari and the Miami Seaquarium?

Baby bonds with his Mom, Circe, an endangered black rhinoceros, at Zoo Miami. The calf was born Feb. 24, 2021.
Baby bonds with his Mom, Circe, an endangered black rhinoceros, at Zoo Miami. The calf was born Feb. 24, 2021.

Masks are no longer required at Zoo Miami, except in the Wings of Asia Aviary and at animal feeding stations, including the camel, giraffe and parrot stations. However, the zoo is still recommending people ages 2 and older mask up at all times.

At the Miami Seaquarium, people who are fully vaccinated don’t have to wear a mask. Those who are not fully vaccinated should still wear a mask and social distance like the CDC recommends. Some attractions, including Sharky’s Rope Course, are still closed.

And at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee in western Palm Beach County, masks are still required indoors and in busy areas around the park where social distancing is not possible, according to its website.

What about at Monkey Jungle in South Miami-Dade?

The primate wildlife park is still closed to the public to protect its animals and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to its website. The park started a GoFundMe page earlier this year to help support its ongoing costs and is still accepting donations.

Jungle Island is closed for renovations, but its ballrooms and Joia Beach, a tropical-themed Mediterranean restaurant, on Watson Island are open.

Can I visit Grapeland Water Park this summer? Are there COVID rules?

Grapeland Water Park near Miami International Airport reopens on Memorial Day Weekend and visitors can keep swimming until Labor Day ends. However, guests and workers at the city of Miami park must keep masks on, except when in the water.

Pools Supervisor Erich Valerdi said the park will still enforce COVID restrictions, including a 50% capacity rule, employee and visitor temperature checks and social distancing. He doesn’t see this changing anytime soon.

Visit the park’s website for hours.

Are masks needed at Vizcaya, Fairchild Gardens and the Venetian Pool?

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, near the entrance to the Rickenbacker Causeway, is still requiring masks to be worn at all times indoors, including at the Main House, in restrooms and the cafe and shop, except when you’re eating or drinking, according to its website. Exceptions include kids under 2 and those with chronic breathing conditions. Masks are no longer required outside.

People visiting the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables must keep masks on except when swimming and agree to a temperature screening before entering. Anyone planning a visit must make reservations.

The pool is also encouraging visitors to wash their hands frequently and to social distance, according to the city of Coral Gables website.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens in Coral Gables does not require masks outside if you can social distance, but masks are still required inside, according to its website.

TIP: You can enjoy finding life-size dinosaurs (not real, of course) through Fairchild’s Jurassic Garden: A Prehistoric Adventure. Walking tours are available every day until July 18. Visitors can learn about the prehistoric era and other events at https://fairchildgarden.org/events/jurassic-garden/.

There are a lot of places I want to visit in the Florida Keys. Do I need a mask?

It depends on where you go. In Key West, several attractions have stopped requiring masks.

At the Hemingway Home and Museum, masks are optional for employees and visitors, said general manager Jacque Sands.

“If everybody wants to drop their mask they can drop it,” Sands said. “Most of us have had the vaccination.”

Masks are also optional at Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy, though the owner prefers to see people wearing them.

“We’re respectively asking our guests to please wear their masks,” George Fernandez said. “We cannot say you cannot come in if you’re not wearing a mask.”

But at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, masks are still required indoors, said Melissa Kendrick, the president and CEO.

“I’m double vaccinated but I don’t know about the person buying the ticket,” Kendrick said. “We need to protect them and our staff. Better safe than sorry.”

Does Dave & Busters still have COVID rules? What about Chuck E. Cheese? And do I still need a mask to skate and bowl?

Masks are still required inside Dave & Buster’s in Dolphin Mall. Some games will also be closed to help enforce social distancing, according to the company’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Chuck E. Cheese locations are still requiring contactless temperature checks at the door, and instead of the traditional hand stamp, employees will be taking a “Kid Check Selfie.” Its mask policy has loosened however and they are no longer required unless you’re an employee, according to the website.

What about at bowling alleys or skating rinks?

Bird Bowl, 9275 SW 40th St., said it is deciding whether to change its mask and other COVID rules. For now, masks are still required at all times except when eating or drinking in designated areas.

Bowlero locations across the country, including the one at Dolphin Mall, still have several COVID rules in place, including capacity limits for the bowling lanes and laser tag arena.

You also can’t leave your mask at home just yet if you’re planning an outing to Super Wheels Miami. You have to keep your mask on and social distance while inside or skating on the rink. Those not following the rink’s rules will be asked to leave, according to the website.

Splitsville in Sunset Place remains temporarily closed, according to its website.

Can I eat popcorn in the movie theaters again?

There were a lot of COVID rules in Miami-Dade County last year, including one that said you couldn’t eat popcorn, candy or drink a soda while watching a movie at the theater. That’s over now.

At Coral Gables Art Cinema, you can eat popcorn in a theater if you keep your mask handy to replace after you’ve finished.

The cinema is still enforcing the rules it put in place since it reopened in September, Associate Director Javier Chavez said. Reduced capacity seating, social distancing and buying advance tickets are still required. You can only buy up to four tickets at a time unless you make another transaction, Chavez said, adding that the theater may revisit the ticket cap.

“Things have been getting better, you know, as more people are vaccinated and we look forward to trying to get back to normal soon, but you know we’re still kind of safe,” he said.

CMX Brickell City Centre, a theater and sports bar in Miami, is open again and allowing guests to take off their mask to eat snacks during the movie, at your table or even in the lobby. However, when you’re not eating, you must wear the mask, Manager Natalie Casas said. The theater is also still enforcing social distancing, so call ahead to reserve your seat.

Select AMC and Regal Cinema theaters are open in South Florida, but check the website or call ahead to find the nearest open theater. For the full Regal theater reopening list, view https://www.regmovies.com/static/en/us/theatres-reopening

COVID rules at Frost Museum, Miami Children’s Museum and PAMM?

Frost Planetarium at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
Frost Planetarium at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

At the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami, masks are no longer required but are recommended for people who are not fully vaccinated.

Open daily, the museum is operating at reduced capacity and is promoting social distancing, disinfecting and sanitizing, according to its website. Buying tickets online or in advance is also encouraged.

Visit the museum’s website for more detailed COVID safety policies.

What about the Miami Children’s Museum?

The museum, on Watson Island along the MacArthur Causeway, is open on weekends. Members can also visit the museum on Mondays. Tickets must be purchased in advance and everyone 2 and older is required to wear a mask.

Besides checking guests’ temperatures at the door, the museum is promoting social distancing and offering hand sanitizer, according to its website, which includes other COVID policies. Visitors can’t bring food or drinks, except for personal water bottles with lids.

The Pérez Art Museum Miami in downtown Miami said it has not changed its COVID rules following the CDC’s new guidance. You can only bring up to nine people who must all wear masks indoors and outdoors while at the museum. Unless guests are younger than 2, need help removing their masks or already have a chronic condition that disrupts their breathing, they and their party will be told to leave without a refund if they do not follow mask rules.

Social distancing and timed ticketing are enforced, according to PAMM’s website. It also requires that visitors buy tickets online.

Are masks required at Disney and Universal? Are there other COVID rules?

Temperature checks are over at Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort. Outdoor mask rules have ended too, with some exceptions. The Orlando theme parks still have an indoor mask policy.
Temperature checks are over at Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort. Outdoor mask rules have ended too, with some exceptions. The Orlando theme parks still have an indoor mask policy.

Temperature checks are over at Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort. Outdoor mask rules have ended, too, with some exceptions. The Orlando theme parks still have an indoor mask policy. That means masks must still be worn inside stores, hotel common areas, theaters, restaurants (except when eating or drinking) and transportation. People also need to mask up at all rides from the moment they enter the line to the moment they exit.

At Disney, masks must also be worn to enter Magic Kingdom, Epcot or the other theme parks.

Both Disney and Universal say that masks are not allowed on water slides or in the water. So while you’ll have to wear the mask in line, you’ll have to take it off to board the ride. Masks are also not required at Volcano Bay, according to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure FAQ guide.

Disney is also still requiring guests to purchase tickets and make a theme park reservation using its online system. Typhoon Lagoon is still closed, and theme park reservations are not required for Blizzard Beach. Reservations are also not required to visit Universal theme parks.

Are masks required at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens? What about other COVID rules?

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is still requiring employees at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa to keep their masks on but have relaxed mask policies for customers ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is still requiring employees at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa to keep their masks on but have relaxed mask policies for customers ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is still requiring employees at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa to keep their masks on but have relaxed mask policies for customers ahead of the Memorial Day Weekend.

Both parks say people who are fully vaccinated can ditch their masks and are asking those who are not vaccinated to continue wearing a mask, to follow CDC guidance.

However, neither park is asking for proof of vaccination. Florida does not allow businesses to ask customers for “vaccine passports,” or proof of vaccination.

To enter either park, you must have a reservation. Guests must buy a ticket, Fun Card or Annual Pass to the parks before they can make a reservation. Same-day reservations are available if there is space.

I want to visit the Everglades and other national parks. Do I need a mask?

Are you planning to spend time in the Everglades, the Dry Tortugas or another national park in Florida?

If so, there’s some good news: fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask in the Everglades, the Dry Tortugas or other national parks in Florida. However, the National Park Service is still asking people who are not fully vaccinated to mask up inside visitor centers and in crowded outdoor areas.

Miami Herald /FlKeysNews staff writer Gwen Filosa in Key West contributed to this report.

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