Walt Disney World and Disneyland have instituted a number of controversial rule changes that limit use of strollers, ban smoking in the parks, and prohibit loose ice. This post discusses the polarizing policies, what led to them, and “rumors” or urban legends that have arisen since these changes. (Updated October 2, 2022.)
For starters, you might wonder why we’re revisiting this topic over 3 years after these rule changes were made at Disney’s theme parks in Florida and California. Honestly, we were just as confused when noticing that this was suddenly one of our most popular posts yesterday. Usually, posts about old rule changes that have long since been forgotten by most visitors to Walt Disney World and Disneyland don’t see a sudden spike in views.
Then it came to our attention that there’s a viral TikTok video making the rounds, which claims that Walt Disney World and Disneyland are banning all strollers in October 2022. (I’m not going to link to the video, because attention is exactly what these people crave. I hate that I’m even addressing this nonsense.)
This TikTok video has over 3 million views, 90k likes, and over 6,000 comments–many of which are treating this as real news. Despite that, the video hashtags include #fakenews and #babylonbee, which seem to suggest it’s satirical. However, nothing about the video itself would give this impression. It’s just stupid, which is about par for the course with TikTok, in my experience.
In fairness, as someone over the age of 13 who doesn’t want the CCP accessing (more of?) my data, I do not use TikTok. So I’m not the best arbiter of what happens on TikTok or what passes for humor on the platform. In its defense, I’ve “heard good things” from friends about the creativity of creators on TikTok.
Yet, whenever I see TikTok come up in the context of Walt Disney World or Disneyland, it’s for the dumbest possible things–challenges to drink water out of toilets or whatever, “satire” like this, and the most obnoxious dances ever. But you’re probably not here for my old man yells at cloud schtick.
Presumably, many of you finding this post saw that viral video, freaked out, and frantically searched whether or not it’s true.
It’s not true. Neither Walt Disney World nor Disneyland have any intentions of banning strollers completely in October 2022…or ever. A Disney spokesperson has directly debunked this “rumor” as something that will not happen.
As a general matter, it’s always a good practice to consider whether any rumor passes the smell test. Disney has done a lot of things that defy common sense in the last few years, so this isn’t always easy. However, banning all strollers would be implicitly sending a message to the company’s target demographic that they are not welcome at the parks.
It’s true that there have been rule changes in the past to limit strollers–and the company arguably went a bit too far with that–but it was done as a measure to address the ballooning size of them. A cottage industry of novelty stroller rentals was popping up, with guests bringing in royal carriages and starfighters that took up entire walkways. That was a crowd and congestion issue, and one that the narrowly tailored rule change addressed without alienating Disney’s bread and butter.
In short, Disney won’t even ban children from bars and nightclubs–there’s no way they’re going from that to banning strollers. It’s utterly inconceivable.
As for the past rule changes, here are the details if you still want or need them for whatever reason. All of these rules that follow took effect on May 1, 2019 at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
These rules all remain in place as of October 2022. However, there have been questions about inconsistency with enforcement or lack thereof. Some visitors to Walt Disney World and Disneyland have reported success in using larger strollers, including wagons, in the last couple of years. There are even groups on social media and other sites that recommend breaking the rules and using the banned strollers.
As a general matter, we don’t recommend breaking rules. Setting that aside, we think it’s terrible advice to break this rule and bring an oversized stroller to Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Even if it’s true that enforcement is hit or miss, the risk outweighs the reward. If you take a stroller that’s banned and you’re stopped at the gate, it’s going to be a significant and costly disruption to your trip.
Why even risk it? Is the upside of using a wagon really that attractive? Purely from a cost-benefit perspective, breaking the rule does not make sense. The problems you’ll have if you’re stopped far outweigh whatever perceived advantage exists in using a contraband stroller.
Digging into the details, there are big changes to stroller size rules.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland are banning oversized strollers. The rules now require strollers to be no larger than 31″ (79cm) wide and 52″ (132cm) long. Additionally, stroller wagons will also no longer be permitted, which includes the Keenz strollers that have become popular with Disney fans.
Most strollers on the market, including some double jogging strollers, fit within these size guidelines. Of course, Disney’s rentals on both coasts fit within the parameters, and we’d assume third party stroller rental companies will scramble to add and remove strollers to their fleets to ensure full compliance.
Disney indicates that these updates are designed to help guest flow and ease congestion, making the parks more enjoyable for everyone. We’ve heard that, more specifically, Disney is aiming to tighten up operations and smooth traffic flow for the crush of crowds.
This is not the first time both Disneyland and Walt Disney World have done something to tighten up stroller rules. The same policy was on the cusp of being implemented last year, with size check stations outside of security, and a guest recovery protocol. For reasons unbeknownst to me, that enforcement never began and was shelved.
This would eliminate the large novelty strollers (the royal carriages that are more like undersized parade floats than oversized strollers), which have become a burgeoning small business around Walt Disney World. It’d also ban the stroller wagons that are pulled and loaded with enough rations to traverse the Oregon Trail.
Presumably, the goal is to roll out enforcement before bigger crowds arrive so that word starts to circulate about the new stroller policy so people leave their kids’ Cadillacs at home. For all parties involved, it’ll be better if the crush of crowds is reduced as much as possible.
As a non-parent, I’m not about to touch this topic with a 10-foot pole in terms of offering commentary. I will say that I’ve unintentionally locked eyes with a parent trying to navigate an oversized stroller amidst the gridlock of post-fireworks crowds in Magic Kingdom, and seeing the desperation and dejection in their face is something I can never unsee or forget. You could call it a cautionary tale, I suppose.
Next, smoking areas have been eliminated inside Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, water parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and Downtown Disney in California. Designated smoking areas will be available outside the park entrances, at resort hotels, and Disney Springs.
An all-out ban on smoking at Walt Disney World and Disneyland seemed like an inevitability, especially as American societal norms have rapidly changed. Real world smoking restrictions have become more stringent, with a growing number of states and cities, enacting laws that require all workplaces and public places to be smoke-free. While some Disney fans are lauding this change, I’m a bit apprehensive.
I’ve never smoked and question why anyone would start vaping or smoking knowing what we know now. However, our societal views about smoking are only a little over a decade old, and there are still plenty of older smokers who predate America’s more “enlightened” attitude towards smoking. Moreover, smoking is still viewed very differently throughout the rest of the world, and many guests visit Walt Disney World from those countries.
Like many non-smokers, cigarette smoke bothers me. I rejoice at the prospect of walking my favorite trail in Grizzly Peak at Disney California Adventure without having the serene sense of nature spoiled by smoke. I’d love to never smell cigarette smoke in the parks again.
However, I’m also a realist. I question to what degree this ban will be effective and to what extent smokers who previously were willing to jump through some hoops to light up will now just say “screw it” and smoke wherever. Out of my own self interest, part of me wonders if we’re better off with avoidable in-park smoking areas than an outright ban with guests violating that ban.
I also have a bit of empathy for the older generation, that started smoking decades ago and has been unable to kick the addiction. Yeah, it’s gross, annoying, etc., but for many people it’s not quite as simple as “just saying no.” I can’t think of an example of any popular habit about which public opinion has soured quite as quickly as smoking.
Despite many addicts taking up smoking before we knew the extent of its addictiveness, smokers are now vilified in a fairly unprecedented way. I’d hazard a guess that this is due to the unique second-hand effects of smoking, coupled with misplaced anger over how Big Tobacco deceived the public for so long. That’s all well beyond the scope of this post, though.
Anyway, I can already foresee the comments section of this post having a strong anti-smoking slant. I can also foresee a smoker chiming in, feeling upset or ostracized. Before piling onto that person, pause for a moment of empathy…and if you can’t muster that, at least pause to think about whether you’re truly better off with people breaking the rules and smoking wherever because they have an addiction and feel the new restrictions are too onerous.
Finally, there’s a ban on loose or dry ice that has been implemented starting today. This means that if you plan to bring a cooler or cooler bag to store snacks and drinks for theme park or water park adventures, you need to use reusable ice packs instead.
My first reaction to the “no loose ice graphic” was huh?! I didn’t realize this a problem, and thought maybe I missed some news about the social clubs of Disneyland having turf wars with ice cube fights at Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port.
In reality, it seems this rule is being implemented so cooler checks are easier for security to conduct at bag check. Apparently, it’s difficult to check the contents of a cooler with a bunch of loose or half-melted ice. This makes sense, and I can’t imagine many people being outraged over this one…but I’m sure there will be a few people.
To recap all of this, loose ice and smoking are banned at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, and have been for over 3 years. Similarly, oversized strollers and wagons are also banned. Enforcement of the stroller rule is much more hit or miss, and some people might advise you to break that rule. We think that’s a risky recommendation and not worth the hassle, but you do you.
However, there is no rule on the horizon banning all strollers at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. That’s a nonsense “rumor” that was made up solely for the purpose of generating fake outrage and controversy in the name of supposed satire. Unfortunately, it has fooled a lot of people, who are now concerned that it is or will be a real rule. It is not and will not. Mark our words: Disney will never ban strollers.
What are your thoughts on stroller size limits at Walt Disney World and Disneyland? Pleased or displeased that smoking is no longer allowed in the parks? Do you agree or disagree with our assessments of these rule changes? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!