June 5th was the first time the Universal Orlando Resort theme parks re-opened to the public since the COVID-19 lockdown and writer Tharin White went with a friend and shared her experience in Attractions Magazine.  Face coverings is recommended when you are outside your home going to the park, grocery store and so forth. And, not everyone is abiding by this protocol. Universal Orlando (along with other locations) requires guests to wear face coverings in their parks. White and her friend share that wearing a mask for the entire duration of their visit, some 12 hours, with the temperature sitting at approximately 90 degrees made it difficult.
As this is part of our new ‘normal,’ White shares her advice so that you can make the most out of your experience.
Wearing a mask
There are so many face coverings to choose from. And after spending a full day in the blistering heat, she suggests using the wrap around, over your head style also known as Neck Gaiters. She notes that most used the ear-loop kind, (as did her friend). Ultimately, with so many options available, you have to sort out what feels most comfortable to you and if you can handle wearing it for a very long period of time.
She also shared that throughout the day, they did not have any problems with their face coverings being uncomfortable – even on high-speed coasters like Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. A face covering that is soft to the touch and that doesn’t pull on your ears or head is important. Universal sells face coverings and she noted that many of the guests were purchasing them on site. There is also a new Universal Pass Holder mask and one of the guests shared that it was softer and sat comfortably on his face.
Finally, make sure that the face-covering is easy to breathe in. You are going to be wearing all day and likely in the warm sun. You do not want to feel discomfort and or put your health in jeopardy. Keep in mind, the writer (Tharin), who shared her experience is in her 20s. The National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shared a study on the “Effects of wearing N95 and surgical facemasks on heart rate, thermal stress and subjective sensations.” They had five healthy females and males participate in the study at varying temperatures. The study discusses how N95 and surgical facemasks induce significantly different temperature and humidity in the microclimates of the facemasks, which have profound influences on heart rate and thermal stress and subjective perception of discomfort. In conclusion, the results from the experiment demonstrate that heart rate, microclimate (temperature, humidity) and subjective ratings were significantly influenced by the wearing of different kinds of facemasks. You can read the full study here.
Touching your mask defeats the whole purpose
Wearing a mask is a reminder to not touch your face. Most people touch there face multiple times a day, and every time you do you carry infectious agents from whatever you just touched to the region around your nose and mouth. From there, those bacteria or viruses can get into your mucous membranes and cause disease. So it’s good practice to stop touching your face – period.
Popular Science shared “If you have a fabric mask, make sure you’re washing it after each use. You’ll need to wear the mask all the time, since you never know when you might be around an ill person, and you’ll have to make sure you don’t keep touching your face to adjust the mask—that would be wildly counterproductive. When you remove it at the end of the day, make sure not to touch the front, which may be contaminated with viral cells. Remove it by the ear straps. Otherwise you’re just transmitting everything the mask has been filtering out all day onto your hands, which will likely touch your face several times in the next hour. Again—counterproductive.” 
Washing your hands frequently is the gold-standard
Wash your hands as often as possible when out in public. We don’t think about it but we are using our hands often to touch handles, open doors, scratch an itch. At a theme park, there are many touch points. Most theme parks have portable hand washing stations throughout the grounds. And, in between hand-washing, keep a tube on hand sanitizer handy for emergency use.
On the fence of whether or not you should visit Universal? Watch this avid park-goer’s experience of wearing a mask to a theme park. It’s very helpful!
If you are going to head out to a theme park during COVID-19: – when wearing a mask, don’t touch it -avoid rides where you and your mask get wet – you will need to eat and drink so bring extra reusable masks (place the used one in ziplock and wash it thoroughly at home) -wash your hands often -most importantly, do not touch your face
Governor General Award recipient Helen Hatzis lives to travel. A xenophile at heart, she continues to travel the world and shares her experience on Trip Jaunt, an online travel community and hub she co-founded in 2016. Helen is a member of North American Travel Journalists Association and the Academy of Canadian Film and Television.