Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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.