If you are an international traveler who has a Disney World vacation or Universal Orlando trop booked, there may be a few more arrangements that you need to make.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Disney World and the theme park industry in many ways — unfortunately, a huge drop in Orlando tourism has been one of the effects of the virus. Lately, it seems that the majority of Guests visiting Disney World tend to be from within the U.S., as it is strongly recommended for international travelers to not cross their borders unless the travel is essential.
Currently, the United States and Canada land border is closed, but like many other countries, flying is still an option (although it is not encouraged). Each state has its own requirements for those visiting — some require quarantine, some call for a negative COVID-19 test shortly after arrival — but getting to Disney World was pretty seamless considering the state of Florida does not strictly impose any restrictions for incoming international travelers who are allowed into the country.
In a recent update from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, all international travelers will need to bring proof of a negative COVID-19 test (that was taken within 72 hours) to the airport for all travel to the United States. According to the CDC website, the new rule states:
If you plan to travel internationally, get tested before you travel by air into the United States (US), or be prepared to show proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from your healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel.
On January 12, 2021, CDC issued an Order requiring all air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. This Order will go into effect on January 26, 2021.
Negative test results will be required from January 26, 2021, for any passenger over the age of 2 years old, and the coronavirus test must be viral (NAAT or antigen test) to determine if the passengers are currently infected with COVID-19 at the time of travel. If passengers show up without the test, they will not be allowed on their flight to the United States.
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield stated, “Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when combined with a period of staying at home and everyday precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer, healthier, and more responsible by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at destinations.”
However, getting a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel could put a wrench in many travelers’ plans, especially if they are international travelers planning to head to the theme parks that are currently open in Florida, including Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.
As a Canadian, I can say that although our testing is free, it could take up to 7 days to get your results back. Personally, I have had tests often come back with my results within 48 hours of testing, but in the past, it has taken five days. Many travels might not want to risk not receiving their results within the proper time frame, which might lead them to choose to pay for a rapid test to be certain you have results instantly — which would cost each traveler an extra fee that is sometimes up to $200.00 (based on my experience with rapid testing in Canada.
The new rule is similar to one put in place last month for passengers from the UK to the US, which requires that passengers have a negative test within three days of boarding their flight. For the UK requirement that went through last month, airlines can be subject to criminal penalties if they fail to comply, and passengers can be subject to criminal penalties if they willfully give false or misleading information.
Currently, the CDC has not announced when this new rule will come to an end, meaning that there is a chance it will affect anyone who wants to travel to the theme park destinations in California — Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, for example — once they open in the future. Even those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine will need to still bring a negative test result to travel. Therefore, those international travelers who plan to head to Walt Disney World in 2021 should create a plan ahead of time to ensure they can get test results before boarding.
If you want to visit Disney World in 2021, click here to get started today!
Are you planning on visiting Disney World in 2021? Are you an international traveler? Would this new rule deter you from flying?