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  • Walt Disney World is smack dab in the middle of a swamp in a state that is, more or less, a swamp itself.

  • And that's not just some dig at Florida.

  • With 29% of the area of the state being covered, Florida is proportionally more comprised of wetlands than any other state in the US.

  • So, with that in mind, why isn't Walt Disney World swarming with mosquitoes?

  • In truth, like most of Florida, there are plenty of mosquitoes at Disney.

  • However, Disney is dedicated to guest experience, and mosquitoes are, well, really annoying.

  • Beyond that, they're potentially dangerous.

  • According to the World Health Organization, as many as one million people die from mosquitoes every year.

  • Not the bite itself, obviously, but the disease and virus that can often come with it.

  • Now, most of that is attributed to malaria, which is mostly a problem in Africa and parts of South America.

  • However, in the United States, we've still had to worry about viruses like the West Nile Virus, encephalitis, and most recently, Zika.

  • So, as a result Disney, goes all out in combating mosquitoes and minimizing their presence on property.

  • How?

  • Well, they don't have any particularly special weapon that isn't used elsewhere in the world.

  • Disney's arsenal includes insecticides which kill mosquitoes fairly quickly, growth regulators which reduce their lifespan, and maintaining natural predators in the area that eat the bugs as part of their diet.

  • On their own, they're all methods that many other places employ to deal with the annoying mosquitoes.

  • However, the impressive part is the vigilance and precision in which Disney carries out these methods.

  • It all begins with the Mosquito Surveillance Program, which is an element of the Department of Planning and Engineering for the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

  • The Improvement District itself is the governing jurisdiction that covers Walt Disney World and is controlled by Disney.

  • You see, rather than blindly spraying insecticides over the entirety of the property, which is twice the size of Manhattan,

  • Disney, instead, uses various methods to carefully track where and when to spray.

  • The program maintains over 60 traps across the area of Walt Disney World.

  • These traps trickle out small amounts of carbon dioxide, which attracts the mosquitoes much in the same way we exhale carbon dioxide, which, unfortunately, brings them over to us.

  • They'll then bring those traps filled with mosquitoes back to a lab where the mosquitoes are frozen to death and analyzed.

  • The team looks at everything from what kind of species they are to their concentration to how old they are and how many of them were ready to lay eggs.

  • By looking at all this data for all of these traps, Disney is able to paint themselves a picture of what parts of the property need the most attention when it comes to eliminating the insects.

  • Similar to the way they lay mosquito traps all over property, they also spread something else across their property: Chickens.

  • They're called sentinel chickens, and their sole purpose is to be monitored for signs of dangerous viruses like the West Nile virus.

  • Unlike us, chickens don't get sick from the West Nile virus.

  • They naturally produce an antibody that not only keeps them safe from the virus,

  • but it keeps the levels of the virus low enough in their blood that they don't risk passing it on to other mosquitoes.

  • Disney tests the blood of these chickens regularly to see if that antibody is present.

  • If it is, it means a mosquito with the virus was nearby.

  • This is helpful because, while you could technically catch and test free roaming birds and animals for the virus, you'd have no idea where that animal was infected.

  • With chickens in a coop, you know exactly where it happened.

  • So, using these tools, Disney is able to adjust their spraying patterns and other mosquito-killing methods to keep up with the unexpected concentrations of the insect.

  • Now, that's the precision of their methods, but there's also the vigilance.

  • Disney, more than most, sprays their property twice a day to cull the mosquito numbers,

  • once right around sunrise and once right around sunset, the two times of the day mosquitoes are most active.

  • Their fleet of trucks cover as many as a combined 86 miles worth of roads, fields, canals, and firebreaks across the property.

  • Now, obviously, they don't kill all of the mosquitoes.

  • With land that large and insects that prevalent, it's an impossible task.

  • There are also areas that end up being treated less due to Disney's tendency to avoid spraying around guests themselves.

  • As a result, the Fort Wilderness Campgrounds tend to be the least treated of the resorts due to its outdoorsy nature that encourages guests to partake in outdoor activities.

  • They do their best.

  • However, what happens when their best isn't good enough?

  • Well, if there's one thing Disney holds above guest experience, it's guest safety.

  • So, in the few instances where they felt they could do more to ensure that guest safety, it came at the cost of experience.

  • Most notably, there were instances of an encephalitis scare both in 1990 and 1997 that resulted in Disney taking extra precautions.

  • They handed out letters to guests staying on property that cautioned them to minimize activities during sunrise and sunset and to wear longer sleeves whenever possible.

  • On top of that, both golf courses on property as well as water-based attractions were closed early so that guests weren't using either during sunset.

  • The outdoor luau at the Polynesian Resort was temporarily moved indoors, and the hay bale rides and campfire activities at Fort Wilderness were completely canceled.

  • Recently, we saw Disney take extra steps during the Zika virus scare in 2016.

  • Guests at resorts were offered free mosquito repellent, and stations with the repellent were set up throughout the theme parks on property.

  • At the end of the day, as nice as it would seem, it'd be impossible for Disney to completely rid their property of mosquitoes.

  • However, all things accounted for, they do a pretty good job of trying.

  • Sometimes it feels like Disney magic, but like most of Disney's magic, it's really the product of the thousands of individuals who put in the work every single day.

  • Even when that work is dealing with mosquitoes.

Walt Disney World is smack dab in the middle of a swamp in a state that is, more or less, a swamp itself.

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B1 US property mosquito disney world walt disney walt nile

Why Are There No Mosquitoes at Disney World?

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    Samuel posted on 2022/08/05
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