Since its grand opening almost 50 years ago, Disney World has always been something of an innovator in terms of theme park best practices. There’s no trash on the ground, no gum on the sidewalks, the actors don’t cross over into different zones and accidentally ruin the illusion, and perhaps most importantly, there are no mosquitoes buzzing around. But why are there no mosquitoes in Disney World? And how has such an amazing feat been accomplished for half a century?
Why are there no mosquitoes at Disney World?
Considering its location smack-dab in the middle of Florida swamp territory, it’s hard to believe that there are no mosquitoes in Disney World, but trust us, it’s true. It all goes back to Walt Disney himself, a man who was so dedicated to making sure that his guests had the time of their lives that he pulled out all the stops in terms of creating the perfect theme park environment.
According to Mental Floss, Disney World’s pestless history first begins at the 1964 World’s Fair. While in attendance, Walt Disney was introduced to Major General Joe Potter, an MIT graduate and engineering expert who had once served as governor of the mosquito-rich Panama Canal Zone. Disney’s plan to build his theme park in a former swamp meant that mosquitoes were bound to be something of an issue. Luckily for him, Potter had some experience with getting rid of those particular pests.
Potter taught Disney how to get rid of the bugs and keep them out. Before the park opened, Disney had already begun instituting the Mosquito Surveillance Program (MSP). This crack team of entomological experts is in place for one purpose: to capture, study, and combat mosquitoes so that they don’t darken the doors of Disney. Thanks to modern advances in technology and Potter’s tried and true methods, they continue to do it well.
How does Disney World keep mosquitoes away?
According to The Sun, Disney’s mosquito removal methods run the gamut from simple to highly advanced. The thing is, keeping mosquitoes away doesn’t always require traps or sprays, though those certainly help.
Ever notice how much flowing water there is inside Disney World? The fountains, rivers, and waterfalls are in place to keep things fresh and keep things moving. Mosquitoes prefer to breed in stagnant water. No standing water means no ideal spots to lay their eggs. In the ’60s, Potter accomplished this by digging drainage ditches built into the park’s base layers, effectively draining the swamp in its entirety. Those same ditches keep the water running today.
In terms of modern contrivances, the MSP has an array of carbon dioxide traps set all over the park to catch any skeeters that happen to wander into the park by accident. According to Mental Floss, these traps freeze the bugs, which are then analyzed by the team to determine the best course of action to eradicate any new populations.
Landscaping and architecture play their own part in keeping out the mosquitoes as well. The Sun reports that all buildings are built in such a way that water does not collect on any surface. Once again, no standing water means no place for them to breed. Every building is curved in such a way as to be both appealing to the eye and unappealing to breeding skeeters. None of the plants in the parks allow for standing water either and some actively repel mosquitoes.
Finally, Disney has an army of hungry chickens that the park employs to eat the mosquitoes. It’s a win-win: the chickens get an endless supply of yummy bugs, and Disney gets to keep mosquitoes off its property.
According to Mental Floss, the chickens are monitored constantly to see where in the park they eat, and to determine if any of them are carrying the West Nile virus or Zika virus. The birds cannot get sick, but they can carry the virus. Once they have made that determination, the MSP tracks down where they picked it up, and begins exterminating any existing mosquito population that might have found its way in. Thanks to Walt Disney and Joe Potter’s long-standing efforts, however, that doesn’t happen all too often.