Walt Disney World is known for being the Most Magical Place on Earth! Disney fans from all over the globe dream of boarding a plane, heading to Orlando, and making memories that will last a lifetime. But, with the pandemic still looming, many Disney World fans and future Guests are wondering if this is even possible anytime soon.
In the last few days, there has been much conversation surrounding the vaccine passport, but could this idea encourage both U.S. travelers and international Guests who like to visit the parks to feel safe enough to go “home” once again?
What is a Vaccine Passport?
There has been a lot of buzz going around, not only in the United States but worldwide, regarding the development of vaccine passports. It is something that U.S. President Joe Biden has voiced support for. The Washington Post recently reported:
“The Biden administration and private companies are working to develop a standard way of handling credentials — often referred to as “vaccine passports” — that would allow Americans to prove they have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus as businesses try to reopen.”
This specific document- whether it was presented in physical or digital form- would prove that someone has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and, potentially, other contagious illnesses. Right now, some countries require incoming travelers to verify they’ve received certain vaccines for diseases like yellow fever or tuberculosis. However, proof of a COVID-19 vaccine is not currently widely required for travelers.
Implementing a vaccine passport in the U.S. could give hope to fans who miss Walt Disney World and haven’t felt comfortable traveling amid the ongoing pandemic. These individuals might feel safer again setting foot on Main Street, U.S.A., if they knew everyone at Disney World had received the vaccine, particularly if vaccine passports were also required for air travel.
Many international Disney World fans, including those who frequently visit from Canada and the United Kingdom, are beginning to wonder how vaccine passports across borders would function.
Canadian news source iPolitics shared more information regarding how G7 countries are collaborating on vaccine passports and what Canadian Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu is saying about it.
“The health ministers from the G7 — Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Japan — met Monday morning and ‘briefly’ discussed the idea, Hajdu said.
‘The G7 partners agreed that there needs to be some consistency and some collaboration among the countries, so we have some kind of system that would be recognizable, no matter where a person was travelling,’ Hajdu said.
‘We are having conversations with the Americans, but also through the G7 and many other international forums, exploring this idea of some form of … evidence of vaccination at international borders,’ Hajdu said.”
What Does This Mean For Disney World Guests?
Disney is not asking Guests visiting Walt Disney World to provide documentation that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. It makes sense at this time since many states are just beginning to offer vaccines to the general public rather than only those in high-risk demographics or working in high-risk industries.
Furthermore, Guests are not required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering any Disney World theme park — or even the state of Florida. Only one U.S. state, Hawaii, requires visitors to provide negative COVID-19 test results before entry. It is because it would be challenging to obtain test results from those driving across borders in the contiguous United States.
It is worth noting, however, that The Walt Disney Company has instated multiple health and safety measures at all of its theme park properties. Guests’ temperatures are taken before entry, face masks are required for Guests aged two and over, social distancing is enforced, and all Parks are currently operating at limited capacity during their phased reopening process.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently indicated that the state would not require a vaccine passport. However, that doesn’t mean that companies in the private sector — including Disney — won’t decide that their patrons need to provide proof of vaccination.
For example, Florida does not currently have a mask mandate. Still, Disney Springs and all of Disney World’s theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — still require masks. Although Disney World does not require Guests to present vaccine passports, they could, in theory, implement this restriction regardless of Florida’s state policies.
Another thing to note for international travelers is that many nations, including Canada and the United Kingdom, still have travel restrictions now. For example, in the U.K., if you are a visitor and have been in or traveled through any of the 35 countries listed here in the previous ten days, you will be refused entry. The list does not include the United States.
Canada also has strict rules and regulations. Regardless of citizenship, people who travel by air will need to follow testing and quarantine requirements to keep Canadians safe, particularly given the new COVID-19 variants in Canada and worldwide.
So, what does this mean for international Disney travelers? After the unexpected year we had in 2020, more than ever, people are looking forward to traveling.
If Disney World ultimately opts to require a valid vaccine passport to enter its theme parks, it could encourage more visitors to feel safe traveling and make a trip to Disney World a reality soon.
What’s the Bottom Line?
As vaccine rollout continues worldwide and vaccine passports perhaps start becoming part of life, traveling may once again begin to feel normal. As CNN pointed out, however, it will take some work for developers to convince people that “vax pass” apps are safe:
Vaccine verification apps could play a key role in helping us get back to normal. But the companies behind them may first need to convince millions of Americans — scarred from years of headlines about data scandals — that these apps don’t pose significant privacy risks…
CNN’s report continued:
Chief among the privacy fears is the question of whether location or medical data will be collected and stored and who will have access to that information. The companies behind these apps have said they will not store data, but the perception could nonetheless dissuade some Americans from embracing the apps.