Smoking at the Theme Parks is a privilege and not a right. The sooner the smokers who visit the theme parks realize this fact, the better chance the privilege has to continue. I write this article not just as a smoker but as a smoker who does everything within his power to not smoke anywhere near his children or in the vicinity of non-smokers. I have noticed, however, that lately I am seeing fewer designated smoking areas which is leading to seeing more and more smokers choosing to light up wherever they feel the need. This has prompted more outcries from parents such as me to do something about this practice. I am afraid that if smokers continue to blatantly ignore the rules it is a very real possibility that these designated areas could be completely removed from the theme parks. I especially see this as being a possibility at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. These two parks have legitimate arguments to disallow smoking altogether, Magic Kingdom because of the large amount of children and Animal Kingdom due to the animals.
I am very glad that all of the theme parks currently are non-smoking with the exception of designated areas. I am happy about this as a smoker, as a father, and as someone who respects the rights of those who choose not to smoke. Having said this I do have one small pet peeve when it comes to non-smokers who visit the theme parks. Nothing sends me into a rage more than when I am corralled into an off the beaten path area to smoke, one that is clearly labeled as such, and a group of non-smokers walk by and start hacking intentionally and making a scene. These areas are just as visible on the map to smokers as they are to non-smokers. For these various reasons I feel that it is necessary to educate everyone on the locations of the designated smoking areas in each theme park, as of the writing of each article, to ensure that those who feel the need to smoke can easily find them and so non-smokers can avoid them. This will hopefully be a resource that can curb some frustration on both sides and make for a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved. Let’s start with EPCOT, which I feel would be the last park that would see removal of designated smoking areas due to the large amount of adults who frequent the park as well as the alcohol that is present there.
EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort currently has eight designated smoking areas. They are in the following locations (Starting on the path to the right of Spaceship Earth and working counterclockwise):
- Between The Land Pavilion and The Imagination Pavilion (Opposite Side of the Pavilions)– This location is great for members of your party who need to make a stop while waiting for friends and family at either of these Pavilions as well as The Seas with Nemo and Friends. There is also a restroom nearby. The views from this location are quite nice. I have many a great photo of the monorail going by, the water, or The Imagination Pavilion and fountain.
- As You Exit World Showcase Plaza and Head toward the Canada Pavilion (Just to the right, Opposite Lagoon Side) – This location was always hidden to me. It wasn’t until I really looked at the map I noticed it was there at all. This section is tucked away and has great views of the World Showcase Lagoon. It is very close to the gift shops in the World Showcase Plaza and is also by a set of restrooms.
- Down the International Gateway toward the Resort Entrance (On the Left) – This location is ok in a pinch. Not the greatest views in the world but there is the ability to watch the Friendship boats and look at the France Pavilion across the way. This location is great if waiting for your party to join you from any of the EPCOT Resorts or Disney’s Boardwalk. This is one of the few smoking areas that does not tuck you, at least partially, away from the crowd. If you are a smoker try to stay against the railing and non-smokers might want to walk past on the left if you are extremely sensitive to smoke.
- Between the Morocco Pavilion and the Japan Pavilion (Opposite Lagoon Side) – By far the best designated smoking area inside of EPCOT. Almost always shaded. Plenty of seating. Tucked away from traffic so you don’t feel too guilty for opposing on other’s fresh air. You also can usually have a great view of the World Showcase Lagoon (except during food and wine where they place a very large booth in between the area and the lagoon). Many times you can catch the sounds of the drummers in the Japan Pavilion as well. It is very easy to catch up with your party in Japan or Morocco depending on which way you are traveling.
- Inside the Italy Pavilion– I had no clue this one existed as well. When you walk into the Italy Pavilion head back and to the right by the fountain. It is right there. This one is another that could possibly go away soon because I felt very uncomfortable being in that designated area so close to guests taking pictures in front of the fountain. That is probably a reason that I have not seen this area before and why I will choose not to return. I am telling you that I am very cautious as to not offend anyone with my habit. This area is also very hot as it is not shaded in the least bit.
- Between the China Pavilion and Norway Pavilion (Opposite Lagoon Side) – This designated area is almost like you are heading back stage. It is down a path that leads to a huge gate. This area only has a few benches and usually is blazing with sun no matter what time of day it is. Not to mention that on top of smelling the cigarette smoke, which believe it or not I am not a fan of; you have a cloud of perfume hit you from the Norway Pavilion. It is just not the best combination. Not the biggest fan of this area but it is there none-the-less. This could also be a good place to kill time once the Frozen inspired attraction opens and family members spend countless hours waiting in line.
- Just past the Mexico Pavilion and walkway to The Odyssey (Opposite Lagoon Side) – Tucked away and has some great views of the World Showcase Lagoon. If you are heading out this would be the final designated smoking area until you are out of the park. There is one more but it is over in Future World East and quite out of the way. So if you are taking Disney transportation this is a great spot to sneak one in before leaving the park. Same is true if you were to tour the park in reverse the second designated area above would be your last chance.
- In the Middle of Future World East between Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Mission Space, Test Track and Innoventions East– This area had walls around it during my last trip to EPCOT. It is one of the larger areas; it is sunk down a few steps. It had built in concrete benches but I am not sure what they are doing in the area at the moment. For now the designated area is just outside of the construction walls. Relatively shaded area with yet another great view of the monorail and a great centralized location that makes catching up with your party easy.
ALWAYS ENSURE THAT THERE IS A TRASH CAN WITH AN ASHTRAY ON TOP BEFORE LIGHTING A CIGARETTE! (Pictured Below)
There are some areas that appear to be designated smoking areas but they are not if they do not have the ash tray trash can.
The Theme Parks will occasionally need to move designated areas to do work in a particular area. Usually they will have a location close to the original area that they have temporarily assigned to be a designated smoking area. Just ask the nearest cast member and they will point you in the right direction. They are trained to know where the nearest everything is to their area!
(Pictured Below are two areas at EPCOT that were designated smoking areas but now are not)
It was recently announced that all guests using e-cigarettes would need to use designated smoking areas as well. It still gives off a vapor and also gives other guests the impression that you are smoking. This could lead to others who are not using e-cigarettes to think it was ok to smoke anywhere. I think this policy is sound and is changed for good reason.
I really hope that this helps to curb some of the confusion when it comes to where you are able to smoke at EPCOT. I want every non-smoker to know that I am just as offended when someone chooses to ignore the rules. I am usually the first to smell it and I will not hesitate to nicely show them where the closest designated area is. Maybe this article will help some non-smokers be able to do the same. Together we can keep the smoke where it belongs and not having an impact on those who wish to stay as far from it as possible. To smokers: I implore you to stay in the designated areas. Like I said before, this is a privilege that the theme parks are providing, not a right. They can take it away at any point. More than that possibility is the fact that it is rude and inconsiderate to ignore the health and wellbeing of the other guests in the park. There are many children and adults who visit the park that are very sensitive to the smoke. You smoking near them could drastically alter their vacation. Don’t ruin the magic for others by deciding to ignore the rules. This is not like cutting in line; this is a serious health issue, whether you choose to personally care or not.