Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Contemporary Smoking Problem

There are a few sore subjects when it comes to the Disney theme parks - the kind that opposing parties just can't agree upon - and smoking is one. Throughout the years Disney Parks and Resorts have adopted and evolved smoking policies to be in line with societal norms. As other public places, hotels, restaurants, etc., went smoke free so did Disney. These policies are intended to make the guest experience as good as it possibly can be; in the Parks there are designated smoking areas and are clearly listed on guidemaps and signs. The parks are well under control.

The Resorts? Well, that's another topic altogether. On June 1, 2007, all Disney resorts became a smoke-free hotels. My own experience, as a non-smoker at Disney, has been much in line with what I experience in most hotels. I travel for a living and find most respect the ban on smoking in rooms but not necessarily on patios, balconies, and in semi-private, open air places. While I dislike the smoking areas in the parks (especially the one right next to Aloha Isle), I understand the need and appreciate the courtesy provided.

All I ask is that everyone respect the needs of everyone else. This is where it gets messy.

Disney's Contemporary Resort is one of the Florida parks' crown jewels. Not only does it evoke a wonderful '70s vibe but it is located on the monorail loop, is minutes from the Magic Kingdom Park, and offers tremendous amenities and views. It was for this last reason the PFTP staff booked a theme park view in the main tower for our trip this past October: with a new staff member in tow we figured to take in nightly fireworks shows from our balcony and not contribute to the stroller madness in the parks.

The Magic Kingdom view at this resort is without equal. Each morning, you wake to the sounds of the Walt Disney World Railroad and each evening you fall asleep after watching the Electrical Water Pageant cross the Seven Seas Lagoon and experiencing Wishes! from your window. There's nothing in the World like it.

There's also nothing like watching the fireworks from your window and having cigarette buts drop down on top of you. Repeatedly.

The morning following the incident in question I picked up the butts, removed them from our balcony, and contacted Guest Services to let them know of the problem we experienced. We received a sincere apology and were told the hotel would contact the room above us to inquire regarding the situation. (Editors note: we were situated on the 11th floor which meant the guests above us were either on the 12th floor Atrium Club Level or the 14th Tower Club.)

One full day passed with no more butts and then, a day later, the same thing greeted me that morning. This time, I snapped a picture and went downstairs to have a conversation with the GM on duty. Security went to visit the rooms above us and I had a very interesting conversation with the GM regarding this issue. Long story short, there's nothing much the hotels can do in this situation. It turns out they did not speak to the  room above us two days' prior as that room had a 'Do Not Disturb' sign up. (I don't blame them.) Furthermore, I learned the resorts bank on good behavior from guests and that expectation usually does the trick. In cases where it doesn't and the guilty party in question have booked expensive, concierge level rooms the hotels are more than willing to work with you to find a suitable resolution. Just take a civil, calm tone and the resort staff will work with you.

At the end of the day a $1.29 bottle of soda, with a bit of water in it, would've solved a lot of problems. If you're going to smoke on any balcony at the Contemporary, please be considerate and put your butts where they belong.

These photographs were taken by the author in October 2011.

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