Before we begin, I have to confess – I am a smoker. Hold on to your pitchforks before you start with the lectures of how bad and disgusting it is – I’ve heard it, and I assure you – I know it. I am well aware that it is detrimental to my health and how gross it is. I’m an intelligent woman in my (dare I say it) mid 40’s who has heard it all. Am I proud that I have not been able to quit? No, I wish I could, and I still hope someday I will. But that is a whole other blog.
For those of you who are heading to Walt Disney World for the first time, you need to be aware of the 2 important rules about smoking.
All resort rooms are non-smoking, including your balcony. There are designated areas at each resort.
All of the parks and Disney Springs have designated smoking areas. You cannot smoke outside of these areas. They can be difficult to find and change frequently, check the Disney app for locations.
If you have not selected your resort yet – it’s wise to look at the maps online to see how many smoking areas there are and were they are located. The majority of resorts that I have stayed at have been relatively convenient to reach a smoking area, with the exception of Animal Kingdom Lodge.
It makes sense to me that there wouldn’t be smoking areas near the animals, but I didn’t realize how FAR I would have to walk, essentially to the parking lot. I don’t know if it was just my luck that the room was at the end of a very long hall, but it felt like I needed to wake up an extra 45 minutes early in the morning just to walk to the smoking area! At the end of a long day in the parks, it felt like miles….
In the parks, it’s a whole other story. While Epcot seems to be the most “smoker friendly” park, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom are not. Essentially, they just don’t have enough smoking areas.
There – I said it. Now, let me explain.
I remember the days when you could walk down Main Street with a cigarette in your hand. It wasn’t a good idea as it was too easy on a crowded day to have a child come close to the end of your cigarette in their excitement. It made perfect sense to me when they banned smoking except in the designated smoking areas for this very reason.
I was happy to go to the designated areas back then. There were a few sprinkled throughout the park and they were never crowded. Not because there were no other smokers, but because there were quite a few areas! Normally there was only ever 2 or 3 people in each one, so there wasn’t a big cloud of smoke hanging over them. They were out of the way, yet easy enough to find. Those were the good ol’ days.
Fast forward to now – and the smoking areas are VERY limited. In the Magic Kingdom there are only 2 left on opposite sides of the park. What does that mean? 30 people in this ‘out of the way’ smoking area at a time, and the big cloud of smoke is above it, around it, and wafting every way it can. It’s so crowded that people are standing on the walkway and not really “IN” the smoking area because they can’t fit.
Let me stop here to say, I would never smoke outside of one of these areas. It is my choice to smoke and I respect the other guests at the park. I have noticed over the last couple of years a significant increase in guests smoking outside of the designated areas and I have to wonder what changed? I don’t think the smoking population has increased – but the available places to smoke have substantially decreased.
Is the lack of availability a good reason to break the rules? Let me clearly say NO. I would never condone any of the reasons people smoke outside of the designated areas. I am merely pointing out that with the limited areas, we seem to have created another problem.
I have heard the comments that they should ban smoking all together in Disney parks, but that isn’t the answer. I am a Disney fanatic who happens to be a smoker and should be able to enjoy my vacation as much as anyone else – as long as I am respectful of others. There is also the financial impact to the attendance to consider. There are many countries where being a smoker is the norm, Disney would not want to alienate these visitors by banning smoking.
I understand that people have allergies, asthma, and host of things that are impacted by second hand smoke which is why I am in favor of designated areas so that people with these conditions do not have to be in them. The smoking areas need to be easily avoidable for these people. Now I only wish I could avoid the overpowering perfume of some guests that give me a severe headache – but again, that’s a whole other blog too.
What is the answer in my opinion? More smoking areas. Before you start with your outrage, let me tell you what I believe needs to happen.
1 The smoking areas should be more ‘out of the way’.
I don’t mean ‘impossible to find’. They need to be in locations that are not walkways. I’m never happy sitting in a walkway where guests have to walk through the smoking area to get where they’re going. They need to have a choice to walk through or not – and the one on the walkway to Tomorrowland doesn’t give them a choice.
2 There should be more of them.
You need to have more – to have less people in them to make them less of a ‘polluted air zone’. When you cram 30 smokers in 1 area, it’s much more toxic and noticeable to those people in the vicinity. Overcrowding also causes the smokers to spread out – outside of the designated area.
3 They need to be easy to find.
I know the app has the map – but they can’t be so well hidden that a first time visitor can’t find them. Put them in the background and have a little sign or something that ‘points this way’ so that no one is wandering for 20 minutes trying to find one
4 Smoking outside of the areas must be strictly enforced.
Many cast members don’t enforce this rule because they don’t want a confrontation with the guest when they tell them they have to walk to the other side of the park. If they were a little more convenient it might be easier to approach them.
So there you have it, my view on the smoking at Disney debate. I’m sure many of you will disagree – but some will see my point. It’s a very passionate debate and I’m anxious to hear your comments!
Walt Disney was a smoker himself, who died of lung cancer.