BY GABRIELLE RUSSON
ORLANDO – Disney is banning smoking and vaping inside its theme parks starting May 1, the company announced on March 28.
The smoking areas are disappearing inside Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, including the water parks and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, according to a Disney blog post.
New designated smoking areas will be available outside the entrances in a move Disney hopes will help with guest flow and reduce congestion in its often crowded parks.
‘Star Wars’ expansion
Later this year, both Disneyland and Disney World are opening Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, a 14-acre expansion that’s predicted to draw huge crowds. A smoking area at Disneyland is being removed because it is near the new land.
“It’s about time,” said Dennis Speigel, president of Ohio-based International Theme Park Service. “It’s the happiest place on Earth … Why should people be subjected to smoke at Disney?”
Speigel said he expects the other parks will explore their smoking policies now too.
Disney often leads the theme park industry. When Disney World raises theme park admission or increases worker pay, Universal and SeaWorld typically follow suit.
Spokespeople at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld did not immediately respond for comment.
Disney World already bans smoking in hotel rooms and the balconies, although resorts do have marked smoking areas on their properties.
Smoking also will still be allowed at certain areas of Disney Springs in Florida.
At Walt Disney World parks, smoking enforcement will be up to employees, which is similar to how Disney handles it now, said Disney spokeswoman Erica Ettori. Disney doesn’t plan to punish visitors if they are caught breaking the rules.
Employees will be expected to politely ask smokers inside the parks to go to the designated area to light up outside the entrance.
Visitors can return back into the park when they are done smoking, although Disney is still working through the details of how they will be readmitted through the lines, Ettori said.
The current smoking areas make up a small footprint at Magic Kingdom, the world’s busiest theme park, which only has two smoking areas inside and one outside the gate.
It’s not the first time Disney has made a statement about smoking. Since 2015, Walt Disney Company hasn’t depicted smoking in its films with G, PG, and PG-13 ratings.
Other policy changes
The change comes as Disney updated its policies to ban loose or dry ice in coolers to streamline the bag check process and cut down on oversized strollers.
“We recommend you keep your items frosty with re-useable ice packs instead,” a Disney blog post said, adding the quick-service restaurants also give out free cups of ice for coolers.
As of May 1, stroller wagons — which are big enough to haul children and visitors’ belongings — are also banned.
“We are adjusting our guidelines on stroller sizes, which will require them to be no larger than 31” (79cm) wide and 52” (132cm) long,” the post said. “The good news – many strollers on the market, including many double jogging strollers, fit within these size guidelines.”