Thank you for smoking…

It’s funny how times change. 

One day Universal is the laughing stock of the theme park world, the next day they still are but now they have a really nicely done Harry Potter section. 

Hey Listen, I am not going to make fun of this, it’s sweet.
Seriously, it is amazing how what was considered cool or socially acceptable one day is considered taboo the next. Remember riding in the back of a station wagon facing the wrong direction with no option of even seat belts so much car seats and air bags. Today if you saw that happening you would probably call social services and demand that the kids be taken away from those dreadful parents (at least you would if you had a bit of a superiority complex). 
Welcome to the 1964 Buick Deathmaster 2000.
Enjoy the ride
Smoking is the quintessential form of this. In the 50’s doctors used to endorse specific brands of cigarettes as being healthy. Just watch Mad Men to see how every man, woman and child smoked every waking moment in the 60’s. Smoking was still popular in the 70’s though maybe it was not always tobacco in those cigarettes. 
Really, some of this is just insane.
Even through most of the 80’s smoking was socially acceptable… then the bottom fell out. Through the 90’s and on to today smoking in public is seriously looked down on. No more smoking sections on planes, fewer and smaller smoking sections even in bars. Many cities have in fact banned smoking in indoor spaces altogether forcing hard core smokers to huddle outside in the cold like homeless gentlemen gathered around a burning 50 gallon oil drum. 
When you’re listening to nothing but the best of oldies you’re listening to Magic 98.9…
Now do you have a light?
Disney is no different… Walt sadly smoked like a chimney, no doubt leading to his untimely demise. Smoking was omni-present in the parks as well. For most of their existence Disney allowed smoking throughout the parks, today they have designated and increasingly inconvenient smoking pens, corralling the unsavory sorts. What is maybe most amazing is that both Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom prominently featured tobacco shops on their respective Main Streets. 
What do you mean I can’t go on Small World?
Customers of the Tabacco Shop could purchase pipes and tobacco from around the world, but cigars and cigarettes were also available (though the cigarettes were discreetly kept under the counter). The Disneyland shop stood from opening day in 1955 all the way to 1991 before being converted to a sports memorabilia shop and eventually a music shop. The wooden cigar store Indian still stands sentry even today, a reminder of what once was. 
I’m not SMOKING them, so take a hike.
At Walt Disney World the Tobacconist shop closed sometime in 1985 though in all the parks smokes were still widely available for sale at less themed establishments. It was not until the 90’s that smoking started to be curtailed and limited.

This all leads us to what is now a lost part of the Disney park histories… themed match books. 

NOT this cool.  You know, they really should write a book about these things…
Nah, that would NEVER happen.
While they do not approach the level of care and thought put into the famous attraction posters the fact is that many of the matchbooks and matchboxes were very well designed, special even. Virtually every restaurant and hotel had free matches waiting for patrons and even some generalized ones were produced for the parks as a whole or for a special season or event. 
The epicenter of it all.
Disney was not trying to hide smoking, or encourage people not to do it, quite the contrary actually. While smoking was never allowed inside the attractions (save for the famous “Break Room of the Future” found in Tomorrowland) it was certainly allowed inside the restaurants and all of the outdoor areas of the parks and resorts. Hotel rooms had ashtrays within and at the entrances to every attraction stood a convenient place to snub out your butt. Smoking was futuristic at EPCOT Center, charming within Fantasyland and took on an international flair at each pavilion of World Showcase, which of course sold country specific brands. 

Those matchbooks were easy to come by for sure, and like many of the best things you did not need to pay a cent to collect them. That is really what today’s entry is all about… the often beautiful and now lost for good designs of these books. Here is a part of my collection gathered in the early to mid 1980’s. It is interesting to note how many establishments are no longer there, then again it is equally interesting to see which ones have stood the test of time.

Lots of photos to follow, a record number in fact… enjoy. 

Styles would change over the years, all the resorts had multiple designs.
The Golf Resort and it’s fancy Trophy Room are no Longer there.
Neither is it’s replacement, the Disney Inn.
Here’s a rare one, the Garden gallery Restaurant from the former Disney Inn.
They look like logs!  How cool is that?
Disneyland had them too… though this one is much newer.
Nothing says Christmas joy like the gift of prolonged medial problems.


Check this out.




These things had real care given to them.





World Showcase was loaded with them.



They end up being a great way to track the history of the places that have closed.



Oooo La La, a BOX of matches for the fancy Chefs de France.




Some are simple, others are not.


The Walt Disney World Shopping Village and Lake Buena Vista
are drastically changed now, making this type of thing all that more special.



Gone but not totally forgotten.




Captain Jack’s is still there, sort of… nothing like it used to be.



Now a kind of crappy “crab house”… a shame.


One a lot of us probably remember, newer than the rest… but still extinct today.
So there you have it… another bit of history that is now gone and in this case maybe for the best, but these made for fun and simple souvenirs and provide an interesting historical record of another time in both the attitudes of a country as well as the appearance of the parks.
Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

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Comments (15)

  1. Sounds cool Lee. Hang on to those babies!

  2. I just found four contemporary resort match books perfect condition plus I found a travel kit looks like a big match book but with sewing kit in it

  3. Daniel:

    I could not agree more.

    The original logos are awesome. Yes, the “Disney Parks” deal saves money and is logistically much simpler… but the original and individual logos just felt so much better and more special.

    it’s all in the details and these matchbooks are just another example of how mundane things can be made special if someone puts the thought into it.

  4. Great post! I truly love the care and effort to make these special. These were inherently functional, but also immensely decorative. Wonderful stuff!

    I really, really, really miss the old Walt Disney World and EPCOT Center logos–simple elegant and visually striking. Many of the resort and dining logos are also impressive.

    I understand the reasoning behind “Disney Parks” merchandise–and can accept that logo on the *inside* tag of t-shirts or on the little paperboard tags on merchandise–but not in lieu of park-specific and resort-specific logos on the merchandise itself.

    Brer Dan

  5. @ Hilary:Thanks!

    @ Connidbfl: Hang on to those matchbooks. They are something that will never be made again.

    @ Kenneth: Ha! Is it really illegal to send matches? Who knew. Did you go bak in time to pick up those Dutch Inn matches or what? I think the old Dutch in is now the Grosvenor in the hotel Plaza. Nice. I have some of the Plaza hotel matches… no Dutch Inn though.

  6. I picked up a book of matches from the Dutch Inn yesterday and was going to send them to you but I just learned that sending matches is illegal. Thanks for the great post and all the hard work.

  7. I have some of these too, even some from “EPCOT Center” on opening day! LOL I forgot about it being called that. I still have A-E ticket books too from MK from the dark ages, when theme parks were still affordable. =)

  8. This is AWESOME! I love it.

  9. Glad to share them Gregory.
    Perhaps we will post some more in the future.

  10. I LOVE the pics. I collect matches from everywhere I go, or USED to collect them before they stopped giving away matches everywhere. I can’t believe I don’t have ANY of these matches. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Well truth be told Disney Studios Paris or whatever they are calling it now is the single worst major theme park I have ever seen. Any Universal park puts it to shame.

    DCA? Well, at least it is getting better, in a big way.

  12. I always thought California Adventure to be the laughing stock of theme parks! 😉

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