When you go to Walt Disney World Resort, you might notice that there is something strange going on. Mosquitoes are not buzzing anywhere inside the park! Actually, you might not have noticed it until we brought it up. This only goes to show that whatever they are doing is effective. But how is it possible when it is located in Florida, which is famously known for its swampland and humid weather? The truth is going to surprise and impress you at the same time. Let us find out why these unwanted guests are nowhere in sight!
Reaching The East
In October 1971, Disney World opened its doors to the public. Before the resort was built on the land, we are sure that there had been many mosquitoes over there. It was developed sixteen years after Disneyland was opened in Anaheim, California in 1955. In the ‘50s, market surveys revealed that only 5 percent of its visitors would travel from across the Mississippi River. This was quite worrisome because it meant that Walt Disney could not tap into a market made up of 75 percent of Americans at the time!
Buying The Property
As you can imagine, Disney wanted to unlock the potential from the eastern side of the United States. The filmmaker picked a site located in Bay Lake, a city in Florida near Orlando and Kissimmee. Disney was determined to make his mark on this side of the country here. Not only that, but he wanted it to become known as “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
The Florida Project
And so he started to develop the idea in earnest! The planning was done in secret across the ‘60s. He referred to it under a code name: “The Florida Project.” The filmmaker wanted to turn it into more than your regular amusement park. He had a number of things in mind as he worked on the idea. Among other things, he came up with the area of the resort that we now know as Epcot.
An Experimental Community
In case you did not know, Epcot actually stands for “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” It was supposed to be an urban area that would become the backdrop for the newest developments in urban living. Disney spearheaded the project, but it was eventually abandoned after he passed away in December 1966. After he passed away, Disney World resembled Disneyland more than he intended.
Still A Success
Unfortunately, Disney did not live to witness his plans come to fruition. As a matter of fact, the first area of the park to open did not open its doors until 1971. After the Magic Kingdom, Epcot came next 11 years later. Meanwhile, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom were launched in 1989 and 1998, respectively. Even though the plan changed, it is hard to deny that Disney World is a success. In fact, it sees more annual visitors than any other resort of its kind in the world!
Breaking Records Left And Right
On average, more than 52 million visitors go to Disney World every single year. In 2014, the four parks each secured a spot in the eight most-visited amusement parks in the world. The Magic Kingdom earned the top spot with its 19,332,000 visitors that year. How impressive is that? Perhaps you were even one of the holidaymakers who went to the park that year!
The Cast Members
However, guests are not the only ones who go to the resort. In fact, Disney World would not be in operation if it were not for the 74,000 “cast members” who make the magic happen. With that figure, it is actually the biggest single-site employer in the United States. The company spends more than $1.2 billion to pay the cast members. On top of that, it shells out $474 million for additional benefits.
A Massive Undertaking
Considering the number of people who visit Disney World, it makes sense that it is a massive operation to run the place. Across the property, you will find 34 hotels and resorts that serve as accommodation for the guests. Allow us to give you a reference for this. If you want to stay in every single hotel room in the resort, you will have to spend 68 years doing so.
It Is A Huge Place
Disney World is massive, which is necessary to entertain and house all of those guests. At nearly 25,000 acres of land, it is the same size as San Francisco and double the size of Manhattan. However, only half of the land is in use at the moment. Even though Disney was excited to work on the attractions, he wanted to preserve the land as well. This is why a third of it has been restricted for conservation.
Its Own Transportation System
It is no joke to transport visitors from one part of the resort to another! Disney World has a complex yet efficient transportation system. Some might even say that it is easier to navigate the resort than certain big cities in the country. For one thing, the resort has 400 buses. This is more than the ones offered by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
Even The Trash Cans
Clearly, the company does not cut corners when it comes to running Disney World. It feels like they have checked every single aspect imaginable. For one thing, there is always a waste bin near you no matter where you are in the park. They are located 30 steps away from each other! Disney did some research by observing how many steps people kept their trash before they would discard them on the floor.
An Underground City
We are blown away by the level of detail that went to planning the resort. This also applies to what lies underneath it. The Magic Kingdom was built above a series of tunnels that has been called an “underground city” by Thrillist. Despite this, they are actually built at ground level. Florida rests on the sea level, which is the reason the engineers had to construct them that way. Since it was impossible to conceal the tunnels under the ground, they did the next best thing instead.
The tunnels they use for the Magic Kingdom are called “Utilidors.” This is where the cast members take their breaks and get their costumes. This complex tunnel system was allegedly the brainchild of Disney himself. He came up so that the characters would not have to go across the park before and after work.
Another fascinating thing tidbit the park is that the magic is preserved with the help of “Smellitizers.” They are devices planted in every corner that releases scents related to the areas where they are located. For example, the ones in the Main Street smell like cookies and vanilla. On the other hand, the ones near the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions smell like fresh sea air! How cool is that?
Millions Of Plants
Disney World does not only look amazing but looks magical as well. One way the company has achieved this is by putting in over three million flowering shrubs all over the park every year. On top of that, there are gardeners whose job it is to look after 13,000 roses, more than 200 topiaries, and 2 million plants.
No Bubblegum Sold
As you can see, it takes a lot of effort to make the resort look pristine. We can see why certain items are not sold in the stores in Disney World. The stories go that Disney himself decreed that the park would not sell chewing gum to customaries. This was done in an effort to keep the resort as clean as it could be. If you cannot go without it, you are allowed to bring them in as long as you buy them beforehand.
Where Are The Mosquitoes?
We have a lot of proof that points to the fact that the company has done everything in its power to ensure the cleanliness and efficiency of the work. However, it turns out that these efforts pale in comparison to one aspect of the park! How is it possible that Disney World has no mosquitoes at all?
Major General Joe Potter
His mission to eliminate the mosquitoes at Disney World started with a meeting between him and Major General William “Joe” Potter. He was an alumnus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and known for his expertise in engineering. Before he worked with Disney on this project, he served as the Governor of the Panama Canal Zone. The two of them met at the New York World’s Fair in 1964.
Pest Control Expert
From 1903 to 1979, the Panama Canal Zone had been an unincorporated American territory. The area had been a malaria hotspot. As we all know, this is a disease that is transmitted by these pesky critters. The authorities knew that they could not risk the workers contracting it if they wanted to finish the project. During his assignment there, Potter was able to learn a great deal about pest control!
Working On The Project
Once Disney learned about what Potter did to control the mosquitoes in the Panama Canal Zone, the filmmaker offered him a job right away. The engineer accepted the offer and started to use his vast knowledge of pest control to good use! He hopped on the “Florida Project,” which eventually turned into the Disney World that we all know and love.
Other Techniques Used
Without Potter, we doubt that guests would be able to enjoy their time at Disney World as much. Even though it is hard to completely get rid of them, the park staff uses a number of techniques to keep the mosquitoes away. And from the look of things, these tactics are all working very well! What do they do?
A Prevention Policy
For instance, rather than killing adult bugs, the resort tries to make itself seem as unpleasant as possible for any insects that need to lay their eggs. So by following a policy of prevention, Disney World can keep the population down permanently – and help ensure that guests aren’t bothered by the bloodsuckers.
No Stagnant Water
It is no secret that mosquitoes thrive in still water. They tend to lay their eggs there, after all. Basically, Disney keeps the bloodsuckers away by ensuring that there is no pool of standing water anywhere in the park! By getting rid of their breeding grounds, Disney has successfully brought down the presence of larvae in the area. But how can they possibly prevent puddles and the like?
The Drainage System
You might think that it is a simple solution, but it is actually more complex than it sounds. For one thing, the resort was constructed on top of a swamp. Once Potter was hired to work on Disney World, his first task was to build a massive drainage system that would convert the boggy property into a place that would be suitable for construction.
He installed drainage gutters that have been nicknamed “Joe’s ditches” after him. It is neat to hear that they continue to be used to this day. As you might have already guessed, they were installed to ensure that water always flows through the resort. This way, water does not ever have to come to a standstill.
It Is Always Flowing
Christopher Lucas, an expert on Disney, talked to Reader’s Digest and explained the logic behind this drainage system. He said, “The guests usually don’t notice it, but the water is constantly flowing… Whenever you walk by a body of water, there’s usually a fountain in the middle of it, or they’re doing something to keep it flowing.”
A New Standard
It turns out that the system is so successful that this has become a standard procedure when Disney works on a new project. The company always buys extra land near the property that would serve as the site of these drainage ditches. Let us find out about the other ways that the architects and engineers have ensured that there would be no puddles or pools of water in the park!
The Design Of The Architecture
Aside from that, the construction team also designed the buildings in such a way that water would not collect anywhere. “All of the buildings are built so that water flows right off of [them]… With all the rainstorms, if water got caught on the buildings… it would form a pool, and then mosquitoes would hatch their eggs, and you’d have thousands of mosquitoes,” Lucas informed Reader’s Digest.
War Against Water
In the fight against mosquitoes, standing water needs to be treated as the enemy! This approach was clearly a great idea. Aside from the drainage ditches and the architecture, the plants also play a part in this mission against the bloodsuckers. To be specific, the company only plants species that would prevent the presence of puddles in the park.
No Water Plants
When it comes to the water features in the park, the employees ensure that there are no water lilies and the like. After all, they might hide mosquito eggs. “They also stock-fill those places with minnows, goldfish and a type of fish called mosquito fish that eat the larvae,” Lucas said to explain this tactic.
No Nasty Pesticides
We are definitely blown away by the lengths that Disney went to prevent stagnant puddles! Apart from these things, Disney uses sprays as well. However, Walt Disney himself asked to refrain from using nasty pesticides. “[He] did not want to ruin the environment at all, so they couldn’t use pesticides… It’d be easy to just spray the whole thing, but he wanted it to be something natural,” Lucas recounted.
Garlic As An Alternative
What do they use if they do not use chemicals? It turns out that garlic spray is something that Disney World employees are familiar with. Mosquitoes do not like this pungent-smelling plant, which is why the employees diffuse a garlicky scent all over the resort. Lucas shared, “The amount that they use is so small that humans can’t smell it, but mosquitoes are very susceptible to it.”
We know that the garlic sprays sound odd but wait until you hear how Disney uses chickens to get rid of the insects. They keep the birds in coops in various parts of the park. The birds mostly live regular chicken lives but often undergo blood checks to ensure that they have no mosquito-related pathogens.
Testing The Chickens
Mosquitoes spread various diseases such as West Nile and Zika. While chickens are not susceptible to these viruses, the presence of the pathogens should show up in their blood test results. If anything appears in their blood work, the employees can then figure out which area of the park requires more attention when it comes to mosquito-busting efforts.
The Mosquito Surveillance Program
Even though Potter’s efforts live on in Disney’s quest to get rid of mosquitoes, the park is still working to improve the Mosquito Surveillance Program some more. Another thing that the company does is to scientifically test the mosquitoes in an effort to learn more about these insects. This way, Disney will be able to find an even more efficient way to deal with them in the future.
His Legacy Lives On
Despite this, Joe Potter left his mark on Disney World. We are sure that his legacy will not be forgotten! After he passed away in 1988, former Walt Disney Attractions president Dick Nunis had kind words to say about him. According to the Official Disney Fan Club website, here is what he said: “Joe was a man [whom] Walt Disney was very fond of. Without Joe Potter, there would be no [Disney World] today.”
A Disney Legend
In 1997, Joe Potter was named a Disney Legend. In another touching tribute, one of the ferries of the Seven Seas Lagoon ride became known as General Joe Potter! How awesome is that? While the park continues to benefit from his expertise to this day, most of the guests have no idea that he deserves credit for their lack of mosquito bites. When you next go to the park, try to look for the chickens!
The Secrets Of Disney World
The approach to mosquitoes is not the only secret that the park is hiding. There are plenty of things that happen behind the scenes that escape the notice of the guests. Read on to take a look at revelations about Disney World that will completely blow you away! Among other things, you will find out why you continue to bump into Chris from Orlando on the park premises…
Hidden Mickeys No Matter Where You Look
We highly recommend taking a good look at the surroundings when you next find yourself at Disney World. Everywhere you look, you will probably spot the famous set of mouse ears! This did not happen by coincidence. The Imagineers who worked on the park intentionally left imprints of this symbol wherever they could! A blogger called Steven Barrett has tried to track every single one of them down.
Feral Cats Prevent Rodent Problems
In the ‘50s, Walt Disney wanted to construct a new attraction in Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. After the Imagineers looked inside, they saw that there were wild cats in there! Eventually, they agreed to let the animals stay there. After all, they proved to be an effective pest control solution to the mice in the area. This is also the reason there are now approximately 200 feral cats living in the park.
The Biggest Wardrobe On The Planet
The costume library at Disney World boasts around two and a half million items. They are stored on racks that go on for eight miles! Disney must be the owner of the biggest wardrobe on the planet! We are sure that you have nothing on the Mouse when it comes to clothes and shoes. Do not get upset because it is at least possible for you to enjoy every single item of clothing that you own.
How It Transports Litter Across The Park
The utilidors have another use aside from helping the employees make their way around the park. They are also great at transporting the trash! Litter is transported with the use of pressurized air and travels down the pipes at a speed of more than 60 mph. The trash cans might be spaced 30 steps apart, but the true ingenuity behind them lies beneath the ground.
The Truth About Chris From Orlando
Anyone who has ever been to Disney World should know Chris from Orlando. But how is this even possible? Well, the truth is that this is the name tag used by staff members who forget to bring theirs! There is a chance that there is an actual Chris from Orlando out there. However, every other person using the name is simply personating this guy.
Why The Water Is So Green
Have you ever wondered why the water in the park is so green? There is no need to worry because it is not really dirty. Disney actually dyed it that color for a number of reasons. First of all, the murky color is a good way to hide the tracks below the water. This way, the boat ride feels even more immersive. On top of that, it is also a good way to hide trash and everything else that ends up in the water.
The Water Bubbles Signal The Ducks To Hide
If you have ever watched the “Fantasmic” show on the Rivers of America, you will know that there is fire involved. In particular, there is a huge dragon that sets one of the rivers on fire! When the show was still new, there was a chance that the ducks on the river would be sizzled. These days, the water bubbles a couple of minutes before this happens so that they can get out of there.
Secret Codes For Every Possible Scenario
We are not kidding when they say that the employees have a secret code for anything you can imagine. Code 101 means that an attraction has broken down. Meanwhile, Code 102 means that it is open again. Code V means that a guest has vomited on the premises. However, the most interesting one might be “white powder alert.” This is used when a guest attempts to scatter ashes at Space Mountain! Can you believe that something like this happens so often that it needs a code of its own?
Main Street Windows Are Named After Legends
In case you were wondering, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the names on the Main Street building windows. They are actually the names of people who have somehow contributed to the creation of the park. You will the names on stores that have something to do with their job. Just so you know, only the greatest former employees have a chance of seeing their names there!
The Secret Parties For Cast Members
Can you imagine receiving after-hours access to the park, all decked out in costume with other people doing the same thing? This sounds like a childhood dream come true! You might be jealous to hear that this is the reality for the cast members. Even though it is not easy to stand around in a hot costume all day, there are perks that come with the job as well.
The Cast Members Used To Share Underwear
Did you know that the costumes worn by the cast members are all provided by the company? Disney provides the undergarments as well! In the past, this meant that the company was responsible for the laundry every single night. However, workers complained about pubic lice and scabies in the early 2000s. Since 2001, unions succeeded by granting the workers the right to bring home the costumes and wash the clothes themselves.
Why They Say Have A Magical Disney Day
It does not matter how annoying the guests are – cast members are always expected to stay in character and be polite! We are glad to hear that they have managed to find ways to let off steam on the job. The cast members have gotten used to saying, “Have a magical Disney day.” Even though this sounds nice and sweet, it is actually code for “f*** you.” Hopefully, you do not do anything to warrant this!
Not Really The Happiest Place On Earth
Disney World might use the nickname “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but some employees would beg to differ. In 2008, a number of staff members put on their costumes and protested the conditions and pay that they get. They staged the protest outside the park. Sadly, 32 costumed employees were arrested as others chanted in front of the guests. We hope that things have since gotten better for them.
The Weirdest Items In The Lost And Found Bin
There have been many weird things to have made their way into the Lost and Found at Disney world. However, we doubt that anything can beat a prosthetic leg and a glass eye. It is a good thing that both of these items were eventually claimed by their owners! We have no idea how they lost such important things in the first place. On average, 210 pairs of sunglasses are also surrendered to the Lost and Found.
The Daily Load Of Laundry
If you want to match the daily laundry load at Disney, you will need to run a wash and dry cycle every single day for 52 years. Whoa. As a matter of fact, 285,000 pounds of clothes go through the wash at the resorts on a daily basis! This does not even include the 30,000 items of clothing that need to be dry cleaned. We know that it is shocking, but then again the park employs 70,000 people on the site.
No Stones In The Cinderella Castle
We know that the Cinderella Castle looks great from the outside, but this next tidbit will make it seem even more impressive. There are actually zero stones that went into its construction! The whole thing is nothing more than a fiberglass shell. Not only is it more durable, but people can’t carve it out either.
Serious Misconduct Allegations Against Cast Members
In general, Disney characters are wholesome. However, there have been lawsuits filed against the folks who play them in the park! In 2011, a guest agreed to settle out of court after she accused the Donald Duck actor of groping her. She also narrated how the employee made joking gestures after it happened.
The Dress Code Is Super Strict
There is actually a 34-page manual that dictates the way the employees should look. It is called the Disney Look Book. Among other things, body piercings and visible tattoos are not allowed. Those with prescription glasses need to follow certain styles, while facial hair and fingernails need to adhere to certain limits. If you are interested in working at the park, get ready to obey these rules!
Run Right Off
The engineers and architects made it a priority to ensure that the water will always run straight off the structures. “They made every building there curved, or designed in a way so there’d be no place for the water to catch and sit there… The architecture is really appealing to the eye, but it also serves a purpose: it makes it less conducive to mosquitoes,” Lucas expounded further.
Getting Rid Of The Bloodsuckers
Trust us, you will be impressed when you hear the reason for this. It is no mean feat to get rid of mosquitoes when you are in Florida! Even better, the resort was built on top of a swampland. If you live in the South, you must be familiar with these blood-sucking insects more than you want to be. However, Disney was very determined to ensure that the visitors would not have to worry about mosquitoes.