Back in March, I partnered up with Attractions Ontario to showcase a day-trip itinerary to Toronto. It was a stay-cation of sorts, playing tourist in my own city with visits to the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada and Steamwhistle Brewery. Sadly, just a few days after my visit, and before I could share a post detailing how you too can enjoy a day-trip in the city, everything was shut down due to the Pandemic. Fast forward 4 months now and a lot has changed here in Toronto. But slowly, businesses are reopening and eager for visitors and customers to return. The big question now is, ‘what’s it like visiting the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada?’ And furthermore, what safety protocols are in place to ensure a safe visit? I recently revisited both places to see how they’ve adapted during these times and in this first of two posts, I’m sharing everything you need to know about visiting the CN Tower now that they’ve reopened.
Stretching 553-meters into the sky, the CN Tower is Toronto’s most iconic landmark. It dominates our city’s skyline and on a clear day, it can be seen up to 160km away. It was built in 1976 and at the time, was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. In 1995, it was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It’s impressive engineering allows it to withstand winds up to 418km/hr and on average is struck by lightning 75 times per year. The CN Tower is one of the most popular spots for visitors to see.
Upon arrival, you must first clear security. This isn’t new. Security measures have been in place for years and involve bag inspections and clearing a metal detector. New security measures now include completing a self-assessment for symptoms of COVID-19, wearing a mask or other face covering at all times, and having your temperature checked. Temperature checks are done through thermal cameras and are non-invasive. I actually had no idea my temperature had been checked, it was that discreet.
Contact Tracing Form
Once inside, hand sanitizer was available. It’s not mandatory to use upon entry but it is highly encouraged. I then had to fill out a Contact Tracing Form. This is to keep track of visitors for each particular day in the event a visitor tests positive for COVID-19 afterwards. To protect your personal information, forms are kept locked in a vault for 21 days, and if no issues arise they are shredded.
Then I made my way to the elevators to head up to the Look Out Level. Only 4 people are allowed in an elevator at a time, or 1 family/social group. Attendants no longer ride the elevator with you, which they used to do to provide you with fun facts about the elevators. But for employee safety, this aspect has been removed. There are plans to digitize this experience to play in the elevators instead.
Stepping inside one of 6 elevators, I’m whisked up to the Look Out level 346-meters above me in just 58 seconds. With glass panelled walls and floor, I watch as the city gets smaller and smaller below me, my ears popping in relation to our elevation. I step off the elevator and am greeted by an attendant that explains some of the new measures in place – keep 6ft apart from other guests, the VUE Bistros, Le Café, and the 360 Restaurant remain closed, and the staircases connecting to the Glass Floor and Lower Observation Deck are now single direction.
In this new normal that we find ourselves in, there’s one thing that remains the same – the impressive views you get from the Look Out Level.
Floor to ceiling windows open up to the sprawling city, all thanks to a major renovation back in 2018 allowing visitors of all abilities the same unobstructed viewing experience. I watch as the cars make their way through the city streets, the planes come and go at the Billy Bishop Airport, and the clouds drift through the towers of the Financial District. It’s quiet, calm, and feels a bit like watching a bustling city through a fish bowl.
The CN Tower often showcases exhibits on the Look Out Level. Currently, there’s a special photo exhibit on display called ‘114 Stories x 114 Storeys’. It explores the facts and the fiction behind 10 of Toronto’s best known landmarks, including Fort York, Yonge Street, Ontario Place and Kensington Market. I love seeing old photographs of Toronto and learning new things about the city, like the fact that there was a full hotel on the Toronto Islands until it burnt down in 1909. The exhibit is a collaboration with the Toronto Public Library and includes recommended reads for each of the featured landmarks.
In order to control the number of people in the CN Tower at any given time, you have to purchase a timed ticket. These tickets indicate at which time you may enter the CN Tower and once you’re in, you may stay as long as you like. Tickets should be purchased in advance online but there are also kiosks setup by the entrance of the CN Tower. Overall, I didn’t feel like the experience had changed in any drastic way. I’m always impressed by the views and I felt at ease and safe throughout my entire time. In fact, I found it was a more enjoyable experience as the crowds from past visits no longer exist.
*Note: my visit to the CN Tower was sponsored by Attractions Ontario. All views and opinions remain my own.