Theme parks could go mask-free next year if rapid COVID-19 testing is in place, ex-Disney staffer says

According to Eddie Sotto, the only people wearing masks at theme parks should be the actors playing anthropomorphic rodents, ducks, dogs, and assorted other characters. Yes, he knows there is a pandemic raging. No, he’s not some anti-mask crusader.

Sotto spent 13 years as a Walt Disney Imagineer, the term that the company uses to describe its army of designers, writers, engineers and other creative and technical professionals who create its theme park experiences. During that time, he had a hand in developing some landmark attractions including the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland in California and the industry’s first trackless indoor dark ride, Pooh’s Hunny Hunt at Tokyo Disneyland. 

Sotto, now president of his own eponymous design studio, believes that social distancing, face coverings, sanitizer stations, deep cleaning of shared surfaces, and the other remedies that parks and attractions have introduced to deal with COVID-19 just aren’t cutting it.

“You can’t treat people like they are in a hospital,” Sotto says, referring to the attempts to keep people safely apart at what are inherently social spaces and the practices that disconnect visitors from theme park magic. “It’s a death spiral for the industry.”

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