Walt Disney World employs around 60,000 human Cast Members. But millions of other creatures help play a part in maintaining the guest experience.
Have you ever wondered why there are so few mosquitoes around to bite into guests, despite the fact that the entire resort was built on swampland? Or why legions of rats aren't constantly rampaging around Walt Disney World's restaurants, devouring scraps of food and spreading disease in their wake? The answer, of course, is that Disney has employed special measures to control such pests. As we like to publish articles that are a little different to the typical theme park website fare here on Theme Park Tourist, we thought we'd take a moment to introduce you to some of the creepy-crawly creatures that are watching your back at Walt Disney World!
The landscaping of Walt Disney World is a major task undertaken by more than 750 Cast Members. The resort's horticulture staff plants 3 million bedding plants and annuals, along with 4 million shrubs, 13,000 roses and 200 topiary every year. There are 2,000 acres of turf at Walt Disney World, requiring 450,000 mowing miles every year to keep in shape. That's the equivalent of 18 trips around the Earth at the equator. Of course, protecting all of these beautiful plants from pests is a huge task. Pesticides can be used (and are) - but carry the risk of causing unwanted pollution. Step in the humble Ladybug, huge numbers of which are regularly released to help control the population of aphids, whiteflies, thrips, mites and other soft-bodied insects. Not only do they play an important role, but they look quite pretty in themselves, too.
Next time you chow down on a chicken burger or nuggets at one of Walt Disney World's eateries, spare a thought for the dead bird's living relatives at the resort. Surprisingly, they play a part in helping to keep those pesky mosquitoes out of your face. Mosquito populations are constantly monitored by Walt Disney World's own government, the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Samples are captured and dissected to check their age and ability to carry and transmit diseases. Where do the chickens come in? Flocks are kept on the resort, and are checked weekly for the presence of antibodies to viruses borne by mosquitoes. The results are used to decide on further action, such as spraying chemicals and other anti-mosquito acts.
3. Big-eyed bugs
Ladybugs are not the only "friendly" insects that act on behalf of Walt Disney World's horticulture team. In fact, in 2009 alone, more than 10.5 million such insects were released. The bugs with the coolest names that are employed by Walt Disney World are the big-eyed bug (Geocaries punctipes) and minute pirate bug (Orius sp), which gobble up small caterpillars and insects.