Smoking is no longer popular in the United States. Growing concerns about health risks and a national campaign to ban smoking in certain public areas have caused smoking rates to drop dramatically. As a nation, we have also become concerned about the risks of secondhand smoke. Walt Disney World is sensitive to these concerns.
However, smoking is a legal activity for adults aged 18 and over. A significant portion of Walt Disney World’s visitors do smoke. Some come from countries where smoking is still popular, others are Americans who choose to exercise their legal right to indulge. Walt Disney World is sensitive to the needs of these guests as well.
In order to satisfy guests on both sides of the relatively volatile smoking debate, Walt Disney World has chosen to institute a policy of designated smoking areas. These smoking areas are strategically placed around each park, close enough together that smokers can always find an easy place to light up, but mostly off the beaten path enough that non-smokers do not have to walk through them to get to their next destination.
Many of these smoking areas are quite nice. Located along quiet hidden pathways, some Disney smoking areas are a pleasant place to relax and recharge before heading back out to mingle with the crowds. Fellow smokers tend to be pleasant as well. Smoking areas are a great place to meet other guests and share a few moments of time.
Obviously if you are a smoker, you will want to visit the closest smoking area whenever the urge hits. However, in some cases there are smoking areas fairly equidistant from one another. Or perhaps you are simply strolling through the parks and looking for a good place for a respite. Here then is a subjective ranking of this author’s top three smoking areas in each park.
Adventureland ***** — The main Adventureland smoking area moves from time to time. However, it is almost always located along a row of tree-lined stone benches near the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. This one is set back and hard to spot, so ask a Cast Member if you have trouble locating it.
Fantasyland ***** — Located beside Cinderella’s Castle, this is a great place to socialize. The nearby Cinderella fountain offers the chance to “crown” Cinderella by bowing to her, a secret of which most guests are unaware.
Liberty Square **** — The only reason this smoking area does not receive five stars is its lack of rain protection. However, on nice days this one is perfect. Located in a small park-like area behind the Christmas shop, this smoking area is generally popular.
England Pavilion ***** — Located in the Rose Garden area behind the main pavilion, this smoking area has a huge side benefit: You can watch the Beatles tribute band, British Invasion, while you enjoy a cigarette break. This one is often rowdy, as the smoking area is very close to the Rose and Crown Pub.
Italy Pavilion ***** — A set of benches near the fountain and across from Alfredo’s, this smoking area provides an excellent view of the stunning Italian architecture. Quiet and out of the way, this smoking area is a great place to rest up and watch the world go by.
The Living Seas ***** — The park-like atmosphere and stunning vista of Future World make this the perfect spot to relax with a cigarette. The smoking area is out of the way of the main paths yet still feels a part of the goings-on.
Star Tours ***** — Located in a tree-lined, grassy park just outside the Star Tours attraction, this smoking area provides a great overlook of the film props across the way. This one is sometimes crowded and the energy is superb.
Fantasmic ***** — Guests who smoke will truly appreciate the addition of this smoking area. The Fantasmic evening show is housed in a huge auditorium uphill from the rest of the park, so it would be a feat to come and go for a cigarette break. The Fantasmic smoking area is located just behind the rear of the auditorium, between the restrooms and the food vendors. Benches are provided and this is a great gathering place for smokers.
Sunset Boulevard **** — This smoking area provides no protection from the elements, preventing it from receiving five stars. On nice days, however, this smoking area is superb. Located on the outer border of the Market, halfway between Rock ‘n Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror, this tends to be a popular gathering place.
Tusker House Restaurant ***** — Behind the Tusker House, to the left as you face the restaurant is a truly hidden gem. Themed as the ruins of an old fort, this smoking area is fun. From this vantage point you can also enjoy the live music often presented on the streets of Africa.
Discovery Island *** — Located along the path just outside the Flame Tree Barbecue, this spot is tops for its central location. The seating area is fairly small and the area not particularly shaded (a common problem for many rest spots in Animal Kingdom), but the spot gains points for its restaurant location.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch ***** — Smokers will be happy that Disney thought to provide these twin smoking areas. Rafiki’s is accessible only by a Wildlife Train ride through backstage areas. The attraction itself is quite large and time consuming. Thankfully, smoking areas are provided both just outside the train station and just outside the main building entrance. Both are nicely themed areas, large enough to handle the sometimes vast crowds of smokers.
Walt Disney World makes every effort to be sensitive to the needs of all its guests. Smoking areas are located in convenient and well-themed areas, close enough for easy access but far enough off the main paths for nonsmokers to avoid them. The sometimes close quarters of popular smoking areas encourage a friendly, social atmosphere between smokers. Disney’s smoking areas provide a terrific solution to the ongoing smoking debate.