Disney ruffled a lot of feathers this week for Disneyland and Walt Disney World park goers with the news breaking about new policy changes that will take effect beginning May 1st, 2019. The new policy involves changes being made to stroller, wagon, smoking and ice regulations in all Disney parks across both United States coasts. Yes, you read that right, ice too.
Some of us were overjoyed at the prospect of being rid of certain aspects of Disney park life that have evolved into a bothersome trend. Others had a lot of feelings about the new restrictions impeding their rights, conveniences and favorite park traditions.
Let's look at the new policy changes one at a time, shall we?
"As of May 1, 2019, smoking areas will no longer be present in our domestic theme parks, water parks and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Guests may use designated smoking areas outside of the parks, at Disney Resort hotels and at Disney Springs." - Walt Disney World"As of May 1, 2019, smoking areas will no longer be present in the Disneyland theme parks, the Esplanade or the Downtown Disney District." - Disneyland
Even though smoking in our current age is a very unpopular pastime, many people are struggling to get on the ex-smoker bandwagon, despite the best of intentions. Quitting smoking is hard and many of those who have done it in the last few years have managed the incredible feat with the help of vaping or e-cigarettes. This is where more bad news is in store; the Disney company has confirmed that vaping and electronic cigarettes will also be banned from the same areas listed above.
Many of the people firmly settled in the non-smoker camp will take this news as a joyous occasion, one that can be celebrated in the name of future smoke-free Disney parks and recreation areas. The act of smoking will no longer be able to effect any park guests with second-hand smoke. Personally, when respected, these areas didn't bother me in the parks all that much however it is true that there is nothing less magical than walking through someone else's exhaled cloud of toxins unexpectedly.
At first glance, Disney Parks taking this monumental stride forward in the encouragement to improve the health conditions of all their park guests is a pleasing one. That said, from a practical point of view, it is flawed to think that this will have any effect on the smoking population of patrons other than to inconvenience them and separate them from their families as they leave the park to satisfy the craving for a hit of nicotine occasionally.
"As of May 1, 2019, strollers must be 31” (79cm) wide and 52” (132cm) long or smaller."- Walt Disney World & Disneyland
Ah, the stroller debate. If you have a double stroller for two small kids or twins that is a little outside of the size limitations, I feel your pain. I have been the mother with two kids, one in the stroller, one shoved on a wheelie board behind as I awkwardly maneuver around the platform with every step. It isn't easy, and a double stroller is ideal if you have one.
That said if you are upset because this means you won't be able to bring in your enormous rented Cinderella carriage to clog up every pathway, ride entrance and retail area with? Sorry, not sorry. Those are extremely cute, I will give you that, and I can see the allure of renting one for a photo shoot or a special occasion at home but in the park? Dude, no. Once the initial novelty wears off, it is really just in the way, and not just your way; everyone else's too.
Even so, do not fret, the makers of said dramatic stroller rental options are vowing by the hour to redesign their product to fit within the new restrictions from Disney... Egh, I thought we had a little win there for a moment.
"As a reminder wagons are not permitted in our parks. As of May 1, 2019, stroller wagons will also no longer be permitted." - Walt Disney World & Disneyland
I can't find the words to explain how much I do not understand the need for a wagon, of any kind, in a theme park. To be honest, in all my Disney years I don't think I have ever even seen one in the parks before. It's like this mythical creature that people talk about, but no one has ever seen. Yes, I am sure many of you have seen them before, but I am sure the absurdity of them remains equally confusing even once you have witnessed the theme park wagon in person.
To those of you who have them, what are you putting in them? Help me understand why there is a decent portion of extremely vocal internet users losing their minds today over the of the addition of "stroller wagons" to this Disney no-go policy.
"Loose and dry ice is not permitted in our parks. Reusable ice packs are recommended."- Walt Disney World & Disneyland
Don't bring your ice, ice, baby... Come on; I can't be the only one that went there?
Ok, whatever. Easing guest flow and streamlining the security checkpoint process are being sighted as the reasons behind this ban on frozen goodness. Everyone loves a bit of ice, especially in Disney parks that are notorious for humid and warm conditions. However, Disney is refuting the need for ice on entry noting the accommodation that ice is available from most food service locations for free upon request and thereby allowing you to get what you need once in the parks without the added strain on security.
While I am all for anything that improves security in Disney parks, I can't help but think back to the very chatty bloke who rifled through the top of my backpack for all of 3 seconds without stopping his conversation with another employee or breaking eye contact with his mate last December. Not entirely sure how any hypothetical ice could have slowed down this process but, sure, why not.
So what do we take away from this? Just like our society and the needs of park guests, Disney policy is an ever-changing beast of unpredictability and rationality. Disney can change their minds like a fickle two-year-old at any time. Sometimes this comes with seemingly unnecessary and confusing undertones of shock but usually contributes to the greater good once implemented and conformed to.
I would like to take this opportunity to mention my gratefulness for the elimination of the Selfie Stick from my Disney experiences many years ago. Even though I am sure it disappointed many budding social media stars, the lack of these metal sticks from our park life is delightful. I am sure this policy change saved many from being attacked with their own stick by a frustrated fellow guest that had been knocked in the head one too many times.
All in all, most of the significant changes in regulation ultimately end up enhancing the park experience for all guests; it can just take a little while to get used to. One piece of advice, don't chance it thinking no one will notice if your stroller is too big or your wagon is full of ice. Maybe they won't notice but maybe they will, and it will start your Disney day on the avoidable wrong foot.
Take precautions for your upcoming vacation now to avoid being in an unfortunate situation on the day. Or, sit in your oversized stroller wagon out the front holding the resort ice bucket, smoking your cigarette and wait for the rest of your family to return.
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