What do you think about Disney's new theme park policies?

March 30, 2019, 1:58 PM · What do you think about the changes that the Disney theme parks announced this week?

In case you missed it, the Disneyland Resort announced several new policies as part of its "Project Stardust," to clear more guest space in its parks in anticipation of the even-larger crowds it expects to descend upon Disneyland when its new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land opens on May 31. And many of the new restrictions will be going into effect at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, too.

Here's the recap:

Let's put these changes up for a vote — not that we can make any difference at this point, but it might be nice to get some numbers to summarize the fan reaction instead of relying on the emotional venting many of us have read online.

We'll start with the decision to make all Disney theme parks in the United States, plus Disney Springs and Downtown Disney, smoke free, starting May 1.

Then let's take on the decision to limit strollers to 31 inches in width, down from the current (often unenforced) 36 inches, and to enforce a ban on all wagons in the park, including those that can be pushed like strollers.

Finally, let's talk about Disneyland's decision to eliminate standby and create an in-park virtual queue for entry into Galaxy's Edge after it lifts the requirement for advance reservations to get into the land. The reservations policy will be in effect between May 31 and June 23 at Disneyland, while the virtual queue starts June 24. This will be the only way to get into the Star Wars land. There will be no standby queue to get into the land, as Disney offers on its Fastpass attractions. (Walt Disney World's land opens August 29 and will not have the reservation requirement.)

You are welcome to discuss these questions in the comments, but I also would like to ask... if you could order Disney to make one more policy change to make life better for its guest and cast, what would it be?

Thanks for reading!

Replies (41)

March 30, 2019 at 4:13 PM

I think having no smoking areas at all will just mean people will sneak their smoking and especially vaping throughout the parks. Do I think the time is coming where Disney will be able to have their parks entirely smoke free without much issue? Yes, but that is still at least several years away. Some parks have done it successfully, but not one that has even half as many guests as Disney. While indoor smoking bans are common in most of the countries Disney gets visitors from, outdoor smoking bans are still rare in much of the world, and even parts of the US. Its that reason that Disney World should have two areas at each park, that are built from scratch to make sure they’re at locations that don’t bother people. Disneyland should be fine with one at each park. And no one under 18 should be allowed in the areas at Disney World, and 21 at Disneyland. Disney’s already made up thier mind, but if they have enforcement problems, I suspect it will be re-evaluated.

March 30, 2019 at 4:17 PM

No Alcohol.

March 30, 2019 at 5:10 PM

I have to agree with Randy. I agree most places should be smoke free. However, when looking at something the scale of a Disney park going not just outside the park, but beyond the security cordon is not really practical... The result is either people breaking the rules or customers going through Nicotine Withdrawl.

March 30, 2019 at 6:32 PM

The fact that Disney intends to implement the same restrictions on Disney Springs is another affirmation that DS is a theme park.

I win.

March 30, 2019 at 9:14 PM

Disney Springs is getting designated smoking areas, TH, so nope. By the way, the Springs does have an official brand identity just as each of the four theme parks do, inherited from its Downtown Disney predecessor- Indulgence. It is organized pretty much the same as the theme parks as well. But it gets designated smoking .

March 30, 2019 at 8:24 PM

As an anti-smoker, I'm okay with an overall ban but do agree it'll be hard to sell some folks on not having special areas to do it.

March 30, 2019 at 8:26 PM

I'm no fan of smoking, but I do think it is a tad unreasonable to not have at least one designated smoking area in each park (larger parks like DAK and Epcot one per area). My gut feeling is that while Disney has good intentions, the ban will backfire and result in more unauthorized smoking unless they are super vigilant about stopping it. There has to be enough space somewhere to stick a small smoking area...just find a dead-end somewhere and put two or three benches there.

Regarding strollers, all I can say is "It's about time!" Hopefully they'll paint a box at the entrance, and if you can't fit the stroller inside the box it can't come in.

For Star Wars, virtual queue is the only way to go. If space is at a premium, using a bunch of pathway for a queuing area doesn't seem like the best idea, and nobody wants to stand in the sun for hours to enter the land. There should be enough capacity that anyone arriving by early/mid afternoon will be able to get in at some point during their visit.

March 30, 2019 at 9:29 PM

I honestly was unaware that the number of smoking zones had been reduced down to only one per park.
I'm not a smoker and I really can't stand to be around it. However - to make smokers go all the way beyond the security check points is a bit ridiculous.
Even in Japan, where smoking is MUCH more prevalent than here in the US, there is a very tight restriction on smoking. They do have smoking areas, but they are essentially in back of house areas so they are completely removed from non-smokers. I saw these in 2016 and things may have changed since then, but I think that is a much more reasonable option. Space is tight in Disneyland, so it is tough to separate, but I still believe they deserve to have a place to do what they need to do.

March 30, 2019 at 10:46 PM

I completely approve of Disney's decision to ban smoking in the parks. In my opinion, second hand smoke is not appropriate in any public space, especially in a theme park where a large number of children are present.

I also approve of the ban on oversized strollers. No one needs a stroller that could double as a Winnebago, and the problem has gotten so severe as to make some areas in the parks almost impassable.

March 30, 2019 at 11:20 PM

How does eliminating the few remaining designated smoking areas at the theme parks benefit non smokers? Anyone smoking anywhere other than those designated areas is already violating the existing policies and only smokers following the rules are impacted by this new policy! Have never encountered a non smoker and their child in any designated smoking area ever. If anything, more likely to have more rule breakers all over the theme parks so odds of increased exposure to second hand smoke is way likelier thanks to this new policy.

March 31, 2019 at 3:16 AM

Removing smoking area's? They should have added places to use crack. Thankfully they are adding more alcohol to the parks otherwise it would be unbearable to visit Disney. ;-)
And after removing strollers please remove infants from the park, it's child abuse to take a baby to a theme park.

March 31, 2019 at 8:37 AM

>>>Removing smoking area's? They should have added places to use crack.

I think that's a bit silly. Nicotine is still legal.

March 31, 2019 at 10:21 AM

I think the smoking ban will hurt Disney both in terms of profit and reputation. I don't smoke but have learned to peacefully coexist with smokers and generally with others that have other characteristics that I don't like. Tolerance is a form of love, and intolerance is a form of hate.

Disney is demonstrating an unreasonable intolerance by supporting those who oppose smoking with ridiculous arguments like being vulnerable to cancer from second hand smoke. No danger of this from their microscopic exposure in the park.

I won't return to Disney while this policy is in effect and I bet other non smokers won't either along with most smokers. I do not want to support companies that promote hate and intolerance.

March 31, 2019 at 11:11 AM

Having recently returned, I suspect they know (and knew) when they put in Galaxy's Edge in DHS that the current system would never work. The rope drop system at DHS would be dangerous where it is located in the park. I still think that the demand is going to far outstrip the load time for the attractions, and while I was there thought that a virtual queue was the only way it could work absent a pay for a spot system. Frankly, they are going to need to do everything they can to limit people and manage crowds. It is going to be a nightmare for them. At AK you have a parkwide ripple effect when FoP goes down and the wait times for everything there skyrockets. There were people there that thought Galaxy's Edge was open now and that the hotel was opening in November. The telephone service warns people that is not the case and that crowds will be bad, and that is just if you are calling to change a dinner reservation. The telephone app is beyond terrible and failed more often than it worked. So, I think if they limited stroller sizes, increased or limited alcohol sales, and cut back on smoking areas, all of this is to deal with the knowledge that the crowds are going to be five times what Potter was and they will only have one attraction running. The gondola was not made to have a pretty and convenient way to move around. It was to shuttle the capacity people to EPCOT when they can't get into DHS. I know this post seems highly pessimistic, and it is not intended to be. I cannot wait to visit. I think it will be much more manageable in DL, but it is almost like they needed to build five theaters for Soarin to cover the demand, and I do not think they did that.

March 31, 2019 at 12:05 PM

Well, so much for my meet and greet with Puff the Magic Dragon.

March 31, 2019 at 12:14 PM

I hope all smokers do boycott Disney, more space for the rest of us!

March 31, 2019 at 12:33 PM

I'm not a smoker, but know people who are, and I agree with the majority that somewhere tucked away in a far corner should be provided. People will definitely try and do a covert smoke somewhere, so why not give them at least 1 area where they can 'legally' do it ?

Disney could easily set up gates that are to the max width and let the stroller people try and get thru. Wagons are going to be a no-no anyway, so to help move things along give the strollers their own gateway. The problem is going to be when families arrive with an over wide stroller and are turned away. Could get nasty ?

Quick queue .... virtual queue .... fast pass plus ..... rope drop .... nothing is going to be able to control the crowds come August 29th at DHS. I will be very interested to see what happens at DL, and see, if anything, what WDW does to changes things at DHS. JC is correct .... any top tier going down has an immediate effect on the rest of the park, and in some instances the ride never has chance to recover for the rest of the day. I've seen it first hand, with 7DMT going down, and when I get there sometime after the restart the FP+ line is almost as long as the standby line. I cancel and move on, but others aren't as lucky and have to stick it out. One blip with MFSR is going to cause park wide total chaos. I don't see WDW being able to handle/control the mass of humanity that will descend on the park come Labor Day weekend. But time will tell.

March 31, 2019 at 2:58 PM

THC says: The fact that Disney intends to implement the same restrictions on Disney Springs is another affirmation that DS is a theme park.

I win.

I respond: Theme parks aren't free. So you are making a case for Disney to charge guests to enter Disney Springs

You lose.

March 31, 2019 at 3:49 PM

I think all the new restrictions are reasonable except for the smoking ban. I think that without those designated areas people are going to smoke all around the park. It already happens outside of designated areas as it is. The only way it'll work is if it is actively enforced by security providing gentle reminders and kicking violators out of the park. Let's see how long this lasts.

March 31, 2019 at 4:11 PM

Disney Springs is NOT losing designated smoking areas. Walt Disney World states this clearly on their version of the announcement as well as their FAQ.

March 31, 2019 at 8:07 PM

>>>THC says: The fact that Disney intends to implement the same restrictions on Disney Springs is another affirmation that DS is a theme park.

Well given half of Epcot is basically a glorified shopping and restaurant district, its hardly unprecedented.

Yes, I went there. Sorry Epcot Baby, I still love you.

March 31, 2019 at 8:44 PM

Since Epcot is an actual theme park, unlike Disney Springs, it will lose its designated smoking sections May 1 and that means we have one month left to use those- and they include arguably the most pleasant on stage designated smoking areas at Walt Disney World Resort. Personal favorite it is the one tucked in between the China and Norway pavilions at World Showcase, where smokers can have a cigarette in three continents at once- faux Europe, faux Asia, real North America. The fountain adjacent one in the Italy pavilion is another great spot. I will be making a point to visit all of them throughout April and honor the legacy of Walt Disney himself, who personally went through more Camels than the combined guest count of every theme park in the UAE. Always remember, it all started with a chainsmoker who eventually imagined a Mouse ;)

April 1, 2019 at 7:49 AM

"The fact that Disney intends to implement the same restrictions on Disney Springs is another affirmation that DS is a theme park.

I win."

You mean like many malls and outdoor shopping centers? Nope, Disney is just conforming Disney Springs to similar outdoor town-center style retail districts - Still not remotely close to a theme park.

As I stated on a previous thread, I find smoking and vaping disgusting and vile habits, and from a personal standpoint would prefer not to have to interact with people while they're puffing. However, I understand that some people are truly addicted to these habits, and simply trying to ban them from outdoor spaces as large as Disney theme parks is harsh and inconsiderate, especially to those that are using vaping products as tools to quit smoking. Habitual smoking/vaping is categorized as a disease by some physicians, and lack of areas to smoke/vape could be comparable to a theme park or other large recreational space not having sufficient restrooms. Anyone who looks down on smokers/vapers and gleefully applauds this decision should think about what a theme park would be like if there were only a single restroom at the front of the park, especially for those that have IBS or other digestive maladies. In addition to the inconsiderate and harsh nature of this policy, the likelihood is that those that vape will simply attempt to do so throughout the park, instead of in various designated areas scattered around. There's no way a person that's itching for a nicotine fix is going to walk a mile or more to the entry gate when they can grab a quick puff from their e-cig standing in a large group of people queuing for an attraction. This is just going to make the atmosphere more uncomfortable for the average guest.

I think the ones that will be most affected by the stroller/wagon ban are those that rent the carts from local vendors and those companies that rent the monstrosities. Obviously companies will need to make changes to their rental fleets to meet this new requirement, and families with multiple non-ambulatory children may need to rent multiple smaller strollers instead of one behemoth. Parents with multiples may have a hard time considering that they may need more carts than they have family members to push them. With this in mind, I do wonder if forcing guests that used to bring double, triple, and quad strollers may result in those families renting multiple single strollers that ultimately take up more space than the single multi-seat units.

"Well, so much for my meet and greet with Puff the Magic Dragon"

Or the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland.

April 1, 2019 at 9:20 AM

The only place I have problems with strollers is in the Magic Kingdom (for obvious reasons), and in truth the only time I have those problems is at the mass exit when the fireworks are over. During most other times of the day, I'm guessing 75% of the time?, they are parked somewhere when the family is going on one of the rides

Now I can't comment on the busy-busy times as I'm blocked out, but as with the smoking ban, I think Disney is going to give itself more headaches than it believes. Maybe this will turn into a "seemed like a good idea at the time" moment ?

FWIW ... I was at MK yesterday for a few hours late afternoon/early evening and I walked the full circle of the the park, and in all that time I only saw 2 wagons.

April 1, 2019 at 9:53 AM

As a smoker for 20 years and a non-smoker for the last 3 I have spent many hours in the DSA to satisfy my cravings so I represent both camps. I find it unnecessarily discriminatory to ban smoking in the parks as it will ultimately prevent smokers who need a regular smoke from attending. It is also typical Disney hypocrisy as they should look at their sweet products as their sugar content and sizes cause far more damage to people, including the young, than a few dozen people smoking in an out of the way DSA where the smoke dissipates into the atmosphere without anybody inhaling. Ban all products which use refined sugar! Ban full Coca-Cola! There are enough substitutes out there. Type 2 diabetes is the real health problem America is faced with not the handful of smokers who need to have an occasion cigarette throughout the day.

April 1, 2019 at 10:28 AM

John said "I think the smoking ban will hurt Disney both in terms of profit and reputation." I wish that this were the case. Because smokers and those who sympathize with them are in the minority, I doubt that this ban will have much if any impact. As a matter of principle, I personally will not patronize any park which adopts such a restrictive and intolerant policy.

April 1, 2019 at 10:53 AM

As to the smoking. I barely noticed any smoking sections, and I don't care if people smoke or not. I just don't want them doing it next to me. I don't think people vape to quit either, as the studies show young people are taking up the habit as they think it is OK. I did see many people vaping all over the place, so maybe they are getting complaints, so that may be why they are banning it. Will it stem the crowds? No.

Also, first time to Disney Springs. Only reason is we had a late flight. I can shop at home. Is it a theme park? No. But the Void's Star Wars VR is better than Pandora's FoP, so I will admit the small, tiny room for debate. It may be better than any theme park attraction other than Forbidden Journey for that matter.

April 1, 2019 at 11:00 AM

My take on it is that Disneyland can only support one vice at a time. They're allowing drinking now, so smoking has to go. I mean, they don't want you to mistake the magic kingdom for a seedy Vegas casino. It's all really silly isn't it? One could make the same argument to support Disney adding a hookah lounge to Galaxy's Edge as is being made to add alcohol. I want to suck a hookah and be just like Jabba in Return of the Jedi. The Cantina in the original Star Wars was hazy on the inside and clearly filled with smoke.

In all seriousness, limiting smoking to designated areas is one thing, but forcing people to leave not only the park but the entire security check point is ridiculous. I don't smoke, but this is cruel and unusual.

April 1, 2019 at 12:56 PM

I have no problem with the resort banning smoking and vaping. I understand why smokers are annoyed or angry. They'll get over it... or won't. I don't care. And to be clear i don't mean "good riddance", I legit don't care those people don't feel welcome or excluded. There's enough entitled folks walking around with legit issues that I just do not have the bandwidth to empathize.

Personally I'd like to see front line Disney Cast Members making more money. I think we could afford to pay pretty much everyone in the parks $17-20 an hour and be fine.

April 1, 2019 at 12:58 PM

I think that a lot of foreigners are smokers, especially Europeans and Asians. I pass by a hotel when walking to work in the morning that is filled with Foreigners and there are dozens outside each day smoking. I don't see this with any of the other hotels in the area that cater to more upscale/American tourists.

I think that could turn off foreign visitors to Disney. I guess we will see.

April 1, 2019 at 1:24 PM

Am now smoke-free for over 12 years, and whereas cigarette smoke really bothers me these days, I have never had an issue with designated smoking areas in the parks. Did this become an issue or something with guest complaints? Seems to me there are usually only a handful of smokers at a time in the smoking areas so it's not like there's a forest fire's worth of smoke coming from there.

April 1, 2019 at 1:34 PM

Mark.... I can confirm "Smoking in the park" is a consistent complaint (daily to weekly) at both Disney World and Universal Orlando.

In my experience recording Guest complaints, I felt like only half the complaints were authentic. The other half were from folks complaining about everything they could (park is dirty, people are rude, smoking everywhere, not enough seats, etc...). This is just my experience and perception.

April 1, 2019 at 1:54 PM

@RumbleMike - Are the complaints about people smoking in designated smoking areas or general smoking throughout the park? I would be upset if I were the subject of a complaint where I was actually following the rules.

The real question would then be, whether the complaints are about the mere presence of designated smoking areas or more general smoking throughout the parks, what makes Disney think that eliminating the already sparse number of designated smoking areas will make things better? Don't they realize that the current vaping culture seems to promote the idea that the devices can be used virtually everywhere? What will be the consequences of vaping in the park, and how in the world is Disney going to enforce this rule when violators are going to do whatever they can to keep from having to walk all the way to the front of the park (and outside the security perimeter) to vape? This new rule is going to create far more problems than it solves.

April 1, 2019 at 2:14 PM

Repeating cause somehow the folks on Theme Park Insider are the only ones not getting the message DISNEY SPRINGS will still have designated smoking areas!! The ban on May 1 does NOT include Disney Springs. Walt Disney World statement is clear on this. The four theme parks, two water parks and Wide World of Sports are the impacted areas losing those designated smoking areas May 1 in Florida, the on site resort hotels and Disney Springs will have designated smoking areas!

April 1, 2019 at 2:20 PM

@Russell - Yes it's both. I remember people would complain the whole park should be non smoking and smokers weren't using the smoking areas. Sometimes both. FWIW I believe we considered those as different types of complaints. We also consider context like a complaint about smoke during Halloween may be a fog machine.

But humans are recording complaints from humans so naturally it won't be a perfect system.

April 1, 2019 at 3:40 PM

Really want to help improve overall health and safety of guests at theme parks? Require proof of vaccination of all children!

April 1, 2019 at 3:46 PM

How about this? Build indoor smoking rooms that won't affect anyone but those inside (like airports used to do)...but then charge a fee for each entry. Problem solved for everyone and the parks have found a new but small revenue stream.

April 2, 2019 at 12:23 AM

Spare a thought for the die-hard, ultra loyal Disney fanatics who are long-serving annual pass holders........but also smokers.

April 2, 2019 at 5:49 AM

Strollers: 31 inches passes through all doors, 36 inches not = logic decision.

I'm non smoker, but smokers exist. (Just like strollers exist) No smoking except in dedicated smoking spots (both outdoors & indoors if cold climate > Disney Paris) are strictly needed to guide the smokers where they do not disturb the others guests, instead of making them ticking time bombs provoking even more nuisance when exploding :)

Ever more complicated ways for entrance / queueing are gradually destroying the basic human concept of "free time". When everything needs to be planned, you're in the work shedule trap, again. It's fatal. It's an almost moral conflict situation.

April 5, 2019 at 4:33 PM

I think the smoking ban is a step too far. I've been to a few concert venues in mainland Europe where they have a smoking room with a powerful ventilation system. I understand the desire to cut down on people standing around smoking, and also the discarded cigarette butts, but banning it entirely is a bit of a stretch and potentially wildly optimistic.

Create a few uninviting, ventilated rooms for those who wish to commit slow suicide and let them get on with it.

April 5, 2019 at 11:38 PM

IMHO - Asking smokers to leave a park to smoke a 5 minute cigarette while expected to spend an entire day in a park (spending $$) is unreasonable. I'll bet that smokers will stay until it is time for the smoke, then leave the park - with their entire family. Why go back through security? I have family members that are smokers. We have been going to WDW Florida twice every year for over 10 years. The family is already talking of going elsewhere for our reunions due to this policy change. Way to go Disney.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive