A Smoker's Survival Guide to the Disneyland Resort
Wednesday, August 27, 2003
by Lani Teshima, staff writer
As a smoker, you're probably already used to making adjustments to take
that cigarette break. No smoking on the bus? Wait until you get off. No
smoking in the movie theater? Take a puff outside before the movie starts.
If you are a smoker in California, however, you can feel like a total
pariah, made to feel completely disliked and unwanted because of your
A smoking area in Paradise Pier provides a great view of Paradise Bay
and the Sun Wheel. Photo by Lani Teshima.
While state laws are very rigid, you canwith just a little
extra planningstill have a good time visiting the Disneyland Resort
without suffering because of your smoking.
Accommodating your habit begins well before you go on your trip, when
you start calling around to make hotel reservations. You might be used
to asking for smoking rooms, but did you know that there are only a handful
of smoking-designated rooms around the Disneyland hotels and motels?
The resort's Paradise Pier Hotel is probably the most smoker-friendly.
All of its smoking rooms are on the 13th floor, just two floors below
the top Concierge-level suites. You even get a view of Disney's California
Adventure park across the street, if that's the view you prefer.
The original Disneyland Hotel has three tall towers, but smoking rooms
are now only located on the second floor of the Bonita Tower. If you want
to smoke in your room, forget the nice views.
If you want a Concierge-floor room, you're out of luck, unless you are
willing to walk outside.
If you think your options at these two hotels are limited, consider the
newest Disneyland Resort hotel, the Grand Californian. The entire hotel
has been designated smoke-free. There are no smoking-designated rooms,
and you cannot even smoke on your balcony, or at the pool area. If you
were hoping to prop your feet up for a relaxing smoke, you are completely
out of luck at the Grand Californian.
The neighboring hotels aren't particularly better. Some motels are also
smoke-free facilities. And unlike staying in a no-smoking room in a smoking-allowed
hotel, you will not find ashtrays in the common areas at all. Make sure
to ask specifically when you make your hotel reservations.
If you are unaccustomed to long flights, or flying makes you nervous,
you might want to be prepared with some alternatives to help you while
you travel. Although they are diminishing in number, some airports still
provide smoking lounges. These glass-enclosed zoo exhibit
rooms, however, are pretty disgusting, even for the smoker. The ventilator
may be turned up, but the furniture is often tacky from the tar and nicotine,
and the rooms usually smell like very stale dive bars because their only
use is for people to light up and blow smoke.
Unfortunately, most airports no longer provide smoking rooms, and with
increased airport security, it may be too inconvenient to leave a secure
area at a connecting airport to catch a smoke outside.
Two options are the nicotine patches and nicotine gum. If you haven't
tried either, consider giving them a trial run well before your trip.
Not everyone likes the patches, since the dosage is not controllable in
the way the nicotine gum is.
Smoking allowed here
Disneyland has contemplated banning smoking altogether in its parks.
This, however, would cause a problem for visitors from other countries
such as France and Japan, where smoking is quite prevalent. Instead, Disney
came up with an oddly worded policy: the park is designated smoke-free
except for specially marked smoking locations in the park. Disney has
never permitted smoking by guests waiting in attraction queues or watching
parades, but the strict restrictions were put in place prior to the turn
of the century.
While people may complain that there is less to do at Disney's California
Adventure park, it actually has more designated areas (five) than Disneyland
The walkway between Frontierland and Fantasyland provides a nice, shady
smoking area. Although there are only a few benches, the rock wall provides
plenty of seats. Photo by Lani Teshima.
However, be warned: Neither park is smoker-friendly. Expect to make a
lot of accommodations for your habit, and make sure you make arrangements
with your party so they don't have to keep waiting for you to finish your
Smoking not permitted in restaurants or bars
California's smoking laws are very stringent. You cannot smoke in restaurants.
This means you cannot ask for a smoking table, and get your smoking in
after your meal. If you want an after-meal smoke, you have to leave the
restaurant and walk to the nearest smoking area, at least if you are in
the parks. Incredibly, the state does not permit smoking in nightclubs
or bars, either. Keep this in mind if you were hoping for a fun night
out at the clubs or bars.
There are a number of strategies you can incorporate to make your visit
Pack your smokes
Consider bringing extra packs of cigarettes with you. Gift shops on property
don't sell cigarettes, and the vending machine in your hotel may charge
over $5 a pack (assuming they carry your brand). Nothing as unpleasant
as having to cut short your day's visit to the park so you can go to a
convenience store to buy overpriced cigarettes.
Consider smoking less during your park visits. If you are normally a
lazy smokersomeone who lights up without thinking, and lets a cigarette
sit in an ashtray to burn to its butt on its ownyou might not need
to light up as often as you normally do.
Determine how often you need a smoke breakevery hour, every few
hours, a couple of times a day, and so on. Depending on what you think
you can get by with, you can adjust your day's schedule and be less tied
to smoking areas in the parks.
Whether your strategy is to use nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or regular
chewing gum, the less time you have to spend at the smoking areas means
more time to enjoy the parks. Keep in mind that smoking in the parks means
not just the time it takes to smoke, but the time it takes to walk to
the designated smoking areas. On crowded days, trying to get in a short
smoke break can end up robbing you of a half an hour out of your precious
Save your smokes
Instead of taking 10 minutes to smoke an entire cigarette, try smoking
half a cigarette, or even just a handful of puffs. Considering how much
cigarettes cost these days, don't toss your smoked butts. Carry an empty
tin with you (such as those that you can buy for Altoid mints). After
you put your cigarette out, keep it in your tin. It won't get crushed
or wet, and will easily hold a partially smoked cigarette. For example,
if you know you are going to walk past a smoking area, you can take a
quick smoke break without holding up the rest of the party.
Take a long midday smoke break
Do you have children? If so, whether they have a midday nap or rest period
can make or break your trip. Why not take advantage of this down time
by considering it your relaxing smoke break? Take your kids to the hotel
pool. If your hotel allows smoking, many of them will provide ashtrays
near the pool, assuming it's outdoors. Grab a book or magazine and your
cigarettes. Prop your feet up and enjoy smoking without feeling rushed.
Pick attractions near smoking areas
In Disneyland, there are a few rides that are very close to smoking areas.
The entrance to the Matterhorn Bobsled is a straight sight line to the
Fantasyland smoking area. The Condor Flats smoking area is across the
walkway from the entrance to Soarin' Over California.
Even the signs are themed to the land they are in. This sign is for the
Fantasyland smoking area, located under the monorail track. Photo by Lani
One good strategy is to time your smoke break with these nearby rides.
Although you might miss out on an attraction, you will be able to relax
and light a cigarette while the rest of your party goes on these attractions.
Designated smoking areas
Disneyland has three smoking areas, and DCA has five.
New Orleans Square: Rivers of America Landing The former
keelboat landing has been converted to a smoking area. Of the three smoking
areas in Disneyland, this area probably has the nicest views, since you
can see Tom Sawyer Island and much of the New Orleans and Frontierland
waterfront. Although benches are provided, there is no shade.
This location is most convenient if you are coming from Critter Country,
New Orleans Square, Tom Sawyer Island, or Adventureland.
[By the way, this area is very close to the Tom Sawyer Island raft loading
dock, and unfortunately, the cast members who work on this attraction
end up smelling the smoke all day.]
Walkway between Fantasyland and Frontierland near Big Thunder Mountain
Railroad Although the entire area is not covered in shade,
this smoking area is probably the coolest and quietest. Located among
foliage, the area is small but probably the most relaxing.
This location is most convenient if you are coming from Frontierland,
Main Street, U.S.A., or on the side of Fantasyland near the Casey Junior
Fantasyland on the way to it's a small world, near Matterhorn
Bobsled The area is also accessible from Tomorrowland, and
is easily identifiable because it is under the monorail track on the way
to the Matterhorn Bobsled entrance. Although the monorail track provides
adequate shade, there are no benches in the shade. The benches are set
back and are not protected under shade.
This location is most convenient if you are coming from Fantasyland near
the Mad Tea Party and it's a small world, Toontown, and Tomorrowland.
Disney's California Adventure park
Hollywood Backlot, behind Superstar Limo Tucked behind
the Superstar Limo ride is a smoking area that is well enclosed and provides
some privacy. Because the attraction next to the area is no longer open,
and the area is tucked away in the very back of Hollywood Backlot, you
can usually expect to have the area to yourself.
This location is most convenient if you are coming from anywhere in Hollywood
Backlot, although it is also an option from A Bug's Land (Flik's Fun Fair
and Bountiful Valley Farm) and Sunshine Plaza.
Condor Flats in Golden State, next to the Fly 'n' Buy gift store
Yet another well-enclosed area, this smoking area is somewhat narrow,
and tends to be heavily used because it is next to a popular store, and
right across from the queue for Soarin' Over California.
This location is most convenient if you are coming from anywhere in Condor
Flats, as well as Sunshine Plaza.
Grizzly Peak Recreation Area in Golden State, near Grizzly River
Run ride underpass This smoking area is easy to miss, because
the only signs are those that point you toward the walkway, and are not
posted in the actual area itself. This area is not heavily used because
there is another smoking area by the Fly 'n' Buy, and is not visible from
the main walkway.
The only real sign pointing to the Grizzly River Run smoking area, this
one can be easily missed, and may explain why the area is not crowded
with smokers. Photo by Lani Teshima.
This location is most convenient if you are coming from Grizzly River
Run, Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, or Golden Vine Winery. It can also
be accessible from Pacific Wharf.
Paradise Pier, near the waterfront by California Screamin' track and
Sun Wheel Both this and the San Francisco Bay Area smoking
area (next) provide sweeping views of Paradise Bay. Although this area
is in a wide open area, it is deceptively difficult to find. Keep your
eyes peeled for Smoking Area signs posted on light poles.
Note that this area has no shade.
This location is most convenient if you are coming from the California
Screamin' side of Paradise Pier.
San Francisco Bay Area waterfront near Golden Zephyr Located
on the opposite side of Paradise Bay from the other smoking area, this
area is also less crowded because there are fewer attractions nearby.
This area has no shade, either.
This location is most convenient if you are coming from most of Paradise
Pier. It can also be accessible from as far as the Golden Dreams theater.
The one place you can smoke liberally
With all of the restrictions against smoking in the Disneyland Resort,
there is one location where you can smoke all you want in the outdoor
common area: Downtown Disney.
Trash cans in Downtown Disney come with ashtrays. Photo by Lani Teshima.
Most (if not all; we didn't check every single one) trash cans in Downtown
Disney come equipped with an ashtray top. Most of these trash cans are
located near concrete benches, making it easy to rest your feet while
you take a cigarette break. And while the stores are no-smoking, you can
easily wait outside while members of your party go shopping. On weekends,
Downtown Disney is also often sprinkled with New Age musicians who sell
their CDs and play live concerts, making this a nice area to relax.
Amusingly, if you are a smoker wishing to stay at the Grand Californian,
your reservation operator may suggest Downtown Disney as your smoking
area. Of course, while Downtown Disney is just a short walk from the Grand
Californian, with several hundred rooms, walking to Downtown Disney means
a major trek (certainly more than stepping out on your balcony).
No butts about it
You might already be accustomed to getting dirty looks or comments while
you are smoking. Just remember to limit your smoking to designated smoking
areas, and you should be fine.
MousePlanet reader Margaret Silva suggests taking some nicotine gum into
the park to save even more time. I do end up smoking a lot less,
probably for several reasons, she said. I hate hate hate wasting
time in the smokers' pits
and I know I have limited time in the
park and treasure all of it.
Margaret always makes sure to have a cigarette before entering the park,
so she can go quite a bit without needing a smoke break. When she needs
to smoke, she leads her group to attractions nearest the smoking areas,
such as the Matterhorn Bobsled, so her party can go on a ride and avoid
waiting for her to finish her cigarette.
Each of these strategies are small, but add up to give you far more time
to enjoy the parks. And if you end up smoking less, you not only stretch
your stash and save some money (all the more to buy souvenirs), but your
lungs will thank you for the vacation, too.