Trying a new option for Covid testing to return to Canada from Disney.
Once I had made my first trip back to Walt Disney World in 2021 after 18 long Covid months, I knew I couldn’t un-ring the bell. Being back in the magic was everything this Canadian Disney fan had been missing and I knew I would never take it for granted again. Crossing the border had never been more confusing and anxiety inducing with all of the tests and protocols, but now I knew how it worked. If you haven’t read my experience GETTING to Florida – you can find it here.
My first experience returning to Canada from Orlando I had my PCR test at the airport. I didn’t have a lot of time after getting off of my cruise, so I needed a place that guaranteed results within a certain time. If you want to read about that experience, I have detailed it here.
With my next trip, I was only doing a resort stay so I had time to try out a new service – Beeper MD.
Why I chose Beeper MD for my Covid test
First things first – Beeper MD is free if you schedule 2 or more tests. Given there were 4 of us that would need testing so we qualified for FREE. That’s a big difference from the $175 USD per person I paid at the airport on the prior trip.
I scheduled our tests a few weeks in advance online and we each had to upload the following to the Beeper MD site:
Our passports (or government ID)
Patient intake form
Insurance info (if available)
You do not need insurance to use Beeper MD. According to the site:
The US government wants everyone to get tested and therefore they are covering the cost of testing for anyone that doesn’t have health insurance.
On the patient intake form, it’s very general information including your name, address and date of birth. For address we entered the resort address where we were staying.
We originally scheduled 5-7 PM as our window online when we booked. After hearing that my friends had experienced delays with their appointments, I called in to update our window to 3-5 to give plenty of time that evening.
Beeper MD appointment times
The day before the test was scheduled I called to confirm our appointment. They assured me that we were booked for between 3 to 5 PM the following day, but once the scheduling was done we would be given a time.
At 5:43 PM that day I got an email confirming the appointment for 3:50 PM – a more precise time.
The following day we were at the Beach Club waiting when we got a call saying she was running late due to traffic. She called twice to keep us posted and she arrived at 4:30. We met her in the driveway and she performed the tests there.
We had to provide our passports for verification and she did the swabs. The test was painless and quick.
After the swabs were done, we needed to speak to the nurse practitioner via video call to confirm who we were and to answer any questions we had. We were done. For all 4 of us I think it took 30 minutes and it was free (we did give her a tip).
Then – we wait… that was the part that we weren’t sure about, how long the results would take. We needed to have our test within 72 hours of our flight, but Beeper MD said it could take 36-48 hours for the results of the PCR test. (NOTE – One of my readers pointed out that if you have a connection in the US before returning to Canada, you must incorporate that in to your timing for the testing!)
For PCR tests, you’ll receive the results directly in your email’s inbox within 36-48 hours.
We had a backup test booked for 2 days later at the airport just in case.
Beeper MD test results
The tests were done by 5PM on the Wednesday and at 4:30pm the following day we all had our results in our email.
So the question is:
Would I use Beeper MD again?
Yes, I would. You can’t beat FREE and the fact that they come to your resort. But I would always have a back up plan just in case. My experience was terrific, but I know others who didn’t have such a great time. Given the service is free though, can you really expect the same service as if you were paying $175? I don’t think so.
I will reiterate that this was my experience. You should do your own research to determine what your comfort level is and risk tolerance.
Have you used Beeper MD? What was your experience like?
After 562 long days, I finally made the trip back ‘home’ to my happy place.
Here’s how I travelled from Toronto to Orlando during Covid.
Before I start telling you about my journey, I need to be very clear that this was MY EXPERIENCE.I will provide the links I used to investigate my options, but it’s important that you also do your own research.If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that things can change quickly!I only hope that my experience can help provide you some guidance and reassurance that it is possible for Canadians to get back to Walt Disney World.
My trip dates were August 8, 2021 to September 4, 2021 and I was flying with WestJet from Toronto, Ontario to Orlando, Florida.The land border was still closed at this time and driving was not an option.
Before leaving Canada you must have negative covid test to enter the United States. The airlines are responsible for validating that passengers have met the criteria before letting you board the plane. The most up to date requirements can be found on the CDC website.
For my trip the requirements were:
Get a viral test no more than 3 days before you travel by air into the United States (US) and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight, or be prepared to show documentation of recovery (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).
Notice that it says 3 days? I stressed about the hours vs days and under the frequently asked questions they detail why –
The 3-day period is the 3 days before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 3-day timeframe instead of 72 hours to provide more flexibility to the traveler. By using a 3-day window, test validity does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test was administered.
They even have examples of the days of the week to help you calculate your “3 days” if you need.
Here’s where I got paranoid – What types of tests are acceptable?
Here’s what it says on the CDC website:
Passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Examples of available NAATs for SARS-CoV-2 include but are not restricted to reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP), transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR), and helicase-dependent amplification (HDA).
Since I failed science in school – this was major anxiety for me. I read it so many times it started to look like a different language to me.What if I got the wrong test?
I decided (after reading it 32 more times) that the Shoppers Drug Mart $40 test was what I needed.What made me nervous was that they call it “Rapid Antigen Screening” and not TEST –the CDC says “antigen test”.
I got tested on the Thursday night after work before my Sunday flight.The requirements for the test results:
A test result must be in the form of written documentation (paper or electronic copy). The documentation must include:
Type of test (indicating it is a NAAT or antigen test)
Entity issuing the result (e.g. laboratory, healthcare entity, or telehealth service)
Specimen collection date. A negative test result must show the specimen was collected within the 3 days before the flight. A positive test result for documentation of recovery from COVID-19 must show the specimen was collected within the 3 months before the flight.
Information that identifies the person (full name plus at least one other identifier such as date of birth or passport number)
I got my test result and validated it all before leaving the drug store.
I was still stressing over the difference between “test” and “screening”, so I tweeted WestJet to confirm. At first they directed me to the CDC site – but I had to clarify.
The other thing that is a little hidden on the CDC site that you should have:
“Air passengers will also be required to confirm that the information they present is true in the form of an attestation.”
You can find the attestation here on the CDC site. It says that this would be submitted to the airline.
On the Sunday of my flight, my arrival at the airport was the same as always, with the added benefit of some MASSIVE anxiety.I was nervous about it all, what if I got the wrong covid test?What if they said I couldn’t go?What if I caught covid in the airport?Honestly, 18 months in my house had brought back every ounce of anxiety I ever had.
The energy at the airport was a bit chaotic. At the check-in machines, the WestJet representative that was helping me get my luggage tags said “Ok, you have everything?Your passport, boarding pass and negative covid test?”I replied that I did and I was on my way.
It is possible for Canadians to get back to Walt Disney World.
I dropped off my luggage and headed toward security.The Nexus line wasn’t open that morning.With Nexus you don’t have to take your laptop out of the bag or your shoes off – so I forgot my laptops.After a full screening of my bag and the contents I was on my way to customs.
At customs I had a lovely lady who asked the purpose of my trip.I told her mostly pleasure and a little business doing social media.She asked for my passport and I was fumbling everything.Our conversation:
Customs:Relax, take your time, there’s no rush
Me:I’m so anxious you would think I’ve never travelled before in my life
Customs:Don’t worry – EVERYONE feels that way right now
That conversation was so reassuring to me for some reason.It was nice to know everyone was feeling the same way.
After customs I headed to the gate.There were many families with children and solo travellers – quite a mixture of people.
When boarding began the gate agent checked my passport and asked me to lower my mask to see my face.Her only question was “Oh, your hair is longer – covid hair?” We had a giggle about covid pounds and she told me to have a nice flight.
As I was getting on the plane they handed me a disinfecting towel to wipe down my seat.
Masks were on always at the airport and on the plane unless you were eating or drinking.I didn’t notice anyone without their mask for my entire journey from the curb to the plane.
The other thing that didn’t happen?Not one person asked to see my negative covid test!Not customs, not the gate agent – no one!!Now that is not the norm. My friends were all asked at the gate and a few were asked a couple of times, but I wasn’t asked at all. It’s funny how much I stressed and never had to show it. My friends all got the same test as I did so I am confident it was the right one.
Once on the plane, the lady behind me said to her daughter who was afraid of flying “It’s mind over matter” – that’s what my Mum used to always tell me and it gave me such an odd sense of comfort.
When the plane took off I got teary.I was FINALLY headed home to Walt Disney World! After 562 long days in my house, this Canadian Disney fanatic was finally on her way. I would never take it for granted again that I could hop on a plane and get to Disney whenever I wanted.
Arrival in Orlando was so familiar.When I saw that carpet I got a little teary again. That carpet at the Orlando Airport is iconic!
Hopefully my journey gave you some insight (and dare I say hope) for travelling from Toronto to Orlando during Covid.
For your research – I found the best resources were:
Your airline – make sure you understand the requirements specific to the airline including testing.When they say arrive early – do it.The lines are LONG with all of the extra questions they are asking.
The CDC – use this site for all requirements to the United States.
The Government of Canada website to ensure you have met the requirements for travelling.You should always read all of the advisories before you travel
Traveling at this time is not for everyone, I’m not going to encourage or discourage anyone. This should be a personal decision based on your own comfort level.
If you do decide to travel, make sure you do your research, be well prepared, have realistic expectations and have FUN!
On podcast episode 110 I shared my adventures as well – if you’d like to have a listen, you can find it here.
I have the full report on my return to Canada from Orlando HERE.
What questions do you have about travelling to Orlando from Canada?
Travelling from Walt Disney World back to Canada in 2021.
I had the most epic adventure returning to Walt Disney World after 562 long days, but at some point I knew it would end. I had to prepare for my return to Canada.
If you haven’t read my experience GETTING to Florida – you can find it here.
I will reiterate like I did in that post, I need to be very clear that this was MY EXPERIENCE.I will provide the links I used to investigate my options, but it’s important that you do your own research. Things can change and you need to have the most up to date information.
My return flight with WestJet was on September 4, 2021 to fly from Orlando to Toronto.
First I had to understand what the airline and the government required for me to get home.
If you are fully vaccinated you are exempt from quarantine and the 8 day testing requirement providing you have no signs or symptoms of Covid-19 and have completed your last dose of the vaccine 14 days prior.
If you are not vaccinated there are mandatory quarantines and testing required. Validate your eligibility here. If you are travelling with children who are not vaccinated, there are testing and quarantine requirements as well.
The testing requirement to enter Canada is:
All travellers 5 years of age or older, regardless of citizenship, must provide proof of a COVID-19 test result to enter Canada.
All travellers must provide one of the accepted types of tests, not an antigen test, including those who are fully vaccinated.
The accepted list of tests is long – and confusing for those of us that failed science!
These tests are considered acceptable molecular tests:
PCR – Polymerase chain reaction
RT-PCR – reverse transcription real time PCR
Quantitative PCR (qPCR)
Nucleic acid test (NAT) or Nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs)
Droplet digital PCR or digital droplet PCR (ddPCR)
Transcription-mediated amplification (TMA)
RNA (Ribonucleic acid)
Ct (cycle threshold)
Next generational sequencing (NGS) or whole genome sequencing (WGS)
Oxford Nanopore sequencing (LamPORE)
Detection of the N gene
Detection of Orf1a/b
Detection of the S gene
Detection of the E gene
Detection of the RdRp gene
These tests use methods such as a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, nose swab, or saliva sample. At this time, proof of having a vaccine will not replace a negative test result.
I did a TON of Googling and I was more confused than ever! What I recognized in all of that was PCR – that’s what all of the sites I was researching were offering. I decided I needed to be methodical because I was getting overwhelmed. I ruled out some of the obvious “scam” sites and narrowed my search to 6 places I needed to investigate further:
Orlando Airport Testing
Fast Test Now
Covid Testing LLC
I read every post I could find on these 6 places on social media about experiences. I read the reviews of the businesses and even tried to call a few (it’s amazing how many businesses don’t answer the phone!).
I knew that I needed a place that was reliable, efficient and would give me my results THAT DAY. I was going to be getting off of my Disney Cruise on Friday morning and flying home Saturday – there was no time to waste. That fact ruled out Walgreens and a couple of other sites.
I decided that Fast Test Now or the Advent Health/Centra Care at Orlando Airport were my 2 top choices.
I had some friends who used the airport testing so I figured that was as good as any.
While the website does say they accept walk ups –
Yes, appointments can be made online in advance. Due to demand, we accept walk-ins based on availability, and cannot guarantee a test without an appointment
We made our appointments over a week in advance and secured our spot. We had 10:50 appointments giving us enough time to get off the ship, rent the car and drive to the airport. FYI – parking at Orlando airport is not fun, I would take a taxi next time so I didn’t need to worry, we arrived 5 minutes late.
The site is located in Terminal A Atrium before security, next to the Universal store on the 3rd level.
When we arrived – it was a bit chaotic. I can’t blame the people working there, they had 20 people asking questions and the anxiety level was high. They didn’t have any PCR tests available for walk ups. Passengers were upset – they were going to miss their flights and they had one person fielding all the questions AND getting us all in line.
Here’s the process and the timeline for my experience at Advent Health at the Orlando Airport:
10:55 We arrived and got in line. There were about 15 people ahead of us.
11:15 We were given a form to fill out in line and were done filling that out by 11:20 when she came back to collect it.
11:25 We were called in one at a time to pay for the test. We were getting the Rapid RT-PCR test that was $175 USD.
11:30 They called about 12 of us who had paid into a holding area.
11:35 They gave each of us a seat number – we were sent in to the room to wait for the swab (I was in seat 1). They confirmed again who was getting an Antigen test vs a PCR. We were told Antigen was taking about 30 minutes for results while PCR was averaging about 45 minutes.
11:40 My swab was done and I was sent back into the airport to wait for my results. It’s very important to note they DO NOT EMAIL THEM. You must wait in the terminal for the paper copy.
12:25 They came out with a stack of papers yelling our names to collect our results. YAY! We are negative.
That was my experience at the airport, but I did have two friends who used Fast Test Now with no problems at all. They took a taxi/uber/lyft to the office that was close to Universal Studios and were in and out in less than 30 minutes. My friend Brenda was really impressed with her process. The results were emailed to her so she didn’t have to wait for them at the site. She paid for the RT-PCR Test Same Day Results by 11PM for $199 USD. They took a few minutes for the swab and then went over to Hollywood Studios in time for their Rise of the Resistance boarding group 5.
After our tests we left the airport relieved and went back for our last night at Walt Disney World where we completed the ArriveCan requirements.
Before return to Canada you must complete your information on ArriveCAN. There is an app as well as online form.
Some of the information they collect:
Arrival airport, flight number, date
Identification like Passport/Nexus/PR Card etc
Vaccine status, vaccine type and dates of each dose
Self assessment to ensure you have no symptoms
After you complete the process you get a confirmation on the app and they email you the same. This is to be shown to the airline at check in and at customs when you arrive in Canada.
The next morning we drove back to the airport. At the WestJet check in they checked my ArriveCan receipt and validated my PCR results. Unfortunately there was a couple at the next agent who were being turned away as they didn’t get the PCR test. They were told to try the testing site in the airport, but I didn’t have much faith they would get the PCR in a walk up scenario and I didn’t see them board the flight.
The rest of the process was the same as always until landing in Toronto. We were kept on the plane while they explained customs was backed up and we needed to wait for some to clear. After about 15 minutes they started letting us off of the plane 50 people at a time.
When I got to the customs area I understood why they did that, it was packed. I couldn’t help but notice the irony of the situation.
I spent all my time in Florida telling people how serious we are in Canada about physical distancing, we have been locked down for so long. When I arrived home, they immediatedly escort you in to a mandatory line with no ability to distance from any of the 600 other people who just got off of flights from multiple different countries. I spent 4 weeks in the Florida “hotbed” and had the highest risk in the customs line in Canada.
Thankfully I had my Nexus and my line was shorter, but still in the same room. The customs agent asked a lot of questions about my trip – including why I would travel alone to Disney. Is that even a real question? I told him it was for my mental health. He checked all of my documents, test results and ArriveCan receipt and they told me I was randomly selected for another Covid test.
I got to the carousel and all of the luggage was out – that tells you how long that process took! I got my luggage and followed the signs to the testing.
Upon arrival you need to register for a Switch Health account. They direct you to a booth where you are swabbed – it’s just the outer nostril, nothing terrible. The worst part of that experience was seeing the signs in the booth asking people not to yell at the staff. How horrible we live in a world where you have to ask people to be nice to those who are doing their job.
The entire process probably added 20 minutes to my arrival and I was on my way. The results were emailed to me in 24 hours and the test was negative.
I think my conclusion is that I would be happy to use either Advent Health at the Orlando Airport or Fast Test Now on my next trip. My only concern with the airport is that I wouldn’t want to do it the DAY of my flight – I think it would be too stressful if there were lines. I might try Fast Test Now on my trip in October for comparison.
If you want to hear more about my arrival and my time on the Disney Cruise – check out my podcast episodes here.
For full details on my departure from Canada to the United States, check out this blog post.
Would you travel to Walt Disney World from Canada now?