Late last night, Walt Disney World and Disneyland quietly announced a number of polarizing rule changes, regarding smoking, stroller sizes, and loose ice in the parks. Although we covered some of this in our “WDW News & Rumors: Beauty and the Beast Bar, Stroller Restrictions, and More” post yesterday, there’s much more to the changes, so we’re dropping in with another update today.
April 29, 2019 Update: As noted in this article, all of these new rules take effect on May 1, 2019 at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Given that there have been some questions about enforcement or lack thereof, we thought we should share that stroller size boxes are already in place outside the parks, and sizes will be checked prior to entering.
What, if anything, Disney will offer to guests who have strollers too large to enter the parks is still unclear. We’d hazard a guess that there will be a grace period during which time Disney will provide exchange vouchers for rental strollers to guests with oversized strollers that cannot be brought into the parks, but that’s simply rumor at this point…
Let’s start with smoking. Beginning May 1, 2019, smoking areas will be 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’ll start by saying I’ve never smoked and question why anyone would start vaping or smoking in 2019 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.
Next up, 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.
Finally, the big changes about strollers. We reported this as a rumor yesterday, but got a few of the details wrong, as the new restrictions will be even more stringent than we anticipated.
Beginning May 1, 2019, Walt Disney World and Disneyland are adjusting rules on stroller sizes, which will require them to be no larger than 31″ (79cm) wide and 52″ (132cm) long. Additionally, stroller wagons will also no longer be permitted, which presumably does include the Keenz strollers we mentioned as an example in yesterday’s post.
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 that will accompany the debut(s) of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
For additional information about Disney’s park rules, see: DisneyWorld.com/RulesFAQ and Disneyland.com/RulesFAQ.
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