Monday, November 8th, 2021
Due to my line of work, I’ve been fortunate enough to return to the Walt Disney World Resort three times since the summer. More specifically, three times since the Canadian air border opened back up following its 17-month closure due to COVID. I first returned in late August. At the time, the state of Florida was at its peak with COVID cases, experiencing over 25,000 new cases a day. That number has been on the decline ever since, averaging under 1,500 cases a day at the time I write this. In fact, based on daily averages, the Sunshine State now has the lowest number of COVID cases among the 50 United States of America.
I can attest firsthand (three times now) that it IS safe to travel to Florida. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Canadian government, who back on October 21st, quietly lifted the advisory against non-essential international travel for the first time since March 2020. As of today, when visiting the United States of America, you can exercise normal security precautions. Which means that the overall safety and security situation is similar to Canada. Even better is that with the travel advisory no longer in place, it is once again possible to purchase travel insurance.
So, what exactly is it like to travel to Walt Disney World today? I think it’s important to know the answer to that question because I have a sneaking suspicion that COVID will be with us in some capacity for many years to come. And I don’t about you, but I don’t plan on letting it stop me from enjoying my magical vacations any longer.
As restrictions for international travel continue to be lifted, we expect the requirements I’m about to discuss to change in the coming weeks and months. However, the following are the rules as they stand right now.
In case you live under a rock, in order to board a plane into the United States from Canada, all Guests age 12+ must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. And speaking as an AstraZeneca/Pfizer mixed recipient, I can assure you that ANY combination of Heath Canada approved vaccines is acceptable. Additionally, all passengers ages two and older need to submit a negative COVID-19 antigen test no more than 72 hours prior to their scheduled flight time. The key word here is ‘scheduled’. Which means if you have your negative test in hand and your airline delays your flight, your test is still valid to board your flight. Select Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart’s offer this Antigen test. The cost ranges from $20 – $40 per person and you’ll have your results in about 15 minutes. I like to schedule this test along with my ‘day before travel’ preparations, so I get it taken care of right before my mani-pedi.
On the day of departure – unless you are actively eating or drinking – be prepared to wear a mask from the moment you get to the Toronto airport, during your entire flight and while at the Orlando International Airport. Yes, the day of your flight involves a lot of mask wearing. My advice is to opt for one of the blue disposable ones. As adorable as your homemade or purchased cloth masks are, the disposable ones are far more breathable for such a long day. Side tip, I always use these masks when visiting the hair salon on my two+ hour visit for my colour, cut, and blow dry!
The Disney company follows all CDC guidelines. Therefore, masks are currently required at indoor locations at the Walt Disney World Resort. This includes restrooms and indoor queues. Given the fact that you will be taking your mask on and off regularly, I HIGHLY recommend opting for shorts with pockets for easy access. Another good option (especially for children) is using a mask strap to easily carry it around your neck.
I went to Vaughan Mills last month and there were more people in the halls here than there were while standing in ANY indoor queue at a Disney theme Park. However, roughly 20% of the people at Vaughan Mills were not wearing their masks properly or simply not at all. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating, there is no such thing as mask exceptions at the Walt Disney World Resort. If you can’t wear a mask, Disney’s response is ‘now is not the time for you to visit our theme parks’. So, you won’t see masks hanging under anyone’s nose on the monorail, nor will you see anyone arguing about having to put a mask on like I witness all too often here at home.
Before you know it, a good time was had by all and it’s time to come back home. To do so, all travellers ages five years and older must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their scheduled flight time to return to Canada. You must also upload your proof of vaccination and negative test in the ArriveCAN app.
I can’t stress enough that this process sounds SO much more difficult than it is. There are a few ways to obtain the test and costs associated with it range from $0 to $149 USD per person. Rest assured that your Vacation Specialist will advise you on how to go about obtaining this test at or near the Walt Disney World Resort. Collectively, our team has undergone this task about a dozen times now, so we are very familiar with the procedure and are here to walk you through the process when the time comes for your family to prepare for it. Most importantly, all the places we have sourced out (and used ourselves) will only perform the non-invasive/lower nasal swabs for this test. Because naturally we all want to avoid having a Q-tip shoved up our nostril to our brain whenever possible.
My personal favourite option for this test is from Switch Health. These tests are purchased before leaving home. You bring the test with you, then with a mobile device and internet connection (and from the comfort of your Walt Disney World Resort hotel room), you perform the test in front of a technician and will have your test results in about 30 minutes! The only challenge is that because this option is so popular, it often sells out.
I personally like to take the test as close to that 72-hour mark as possible. Not because it’s difficult, but because I don’t want to associate the test with my vacation being over. I want to have MORE fun after the fact! This way, I can enjoy my last few days in the theme parks before having to think about coming back home.
The last thing to be aware of is that unvaccinated children must avoid group settings for two weeks following their visit to the United States. Once Health Canada approves the vaccine for children ages 5-11 and little ones can be protected, this rule will of course be lifted.
So, as a quick re-cap, the current steps that must be taken are:
The big question is if taking these few extra steps are worth it to answer the call of the magic? You bet your bottom dollar that they are! After all, you can’t visit the edge of the galaxy over zoom.
– Christine Fiorelli
The Magic is Calling. Contact Fairytale Dreams & Destinations to Answer the Call Today!
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