Mosquitoes are something that no one wants to contend with on vacation, but the good news is that Walt Disney World does all they can to control these bugs. Today we’re going to discover the practices that Walt Disney World has in place to make your vacation more comfortable and enjoyable. Keep reading as we share how Disney controls mosquitoes and whether you need to be concerned about these bugs at all on your next trip.
Are There Mosquitoes in Disney World?
When you walk around the parks, it’s very unlikely you would see mosquitoes on your trip. Even though Walt Disney World is located in a state as hot as Florida, and the park was built on swampland, Disney does all they can to make your experience as enjoyable as possible. Many guests don’t even stop to think about the fact that there would be mosquitoes here otherwise, and from time to time, the odd ones do slip through. However, Disney does all they can as far as pest control and uses a few different solutions to control these bugs.
The start of Disney’s efforts against mosquitoes can be traced back to the beginning of the park’s history. Major General Willian “Joe” Potter’s name graces the side of one of the boats to the Magic Kingdom. He first met Walt Disney in 1964 at the World’s Fair and previously worked as governor in the Panama Canal Zone. This area was known for its huge amounts of mosquitoes, who were carrying malaria at the time. Joe Potter became an expert at mosquito control during this time, and Walt Disney soon became interested in his expertise on the topic. In fact, he was immediately hired to work at Disney, and his number one job was to keep mosquitoes out of the Florida parks, which Walt was already planning. Thanks to this forward-thinking, we enjoy a relatively pest-free experience in the parks today.
Water is the Secret to Keeping Mosquitoes Out of Disney World
One thing that many guests are relieved to learn is that Disney doesn’t focus on getting rid of these pests by killing them. Instead, they aim to never have pests in the area instead. Mosquitoes have quite short life spans, and Disney targets the larvae to ensure the park isn’t somewhere they’d like to lay their eggs or live. The way they achieve this is by avoiding all forms of standing water in the park. This is what mosquitoes are most attracted to, and it’s where they most commonly lay their eggs. By removing this breeding ground, you remove the opportunity for mosquitoes to take over the parks.
The difficulty with this lies in the fact that Disney World is built on swampland. When Joe Potter began his work on the Florida project, the first job he had was to build drainage ditches that would remove the water on the land. These are still used to this day, and they keep water in the parks moving, so you are never left with standing water. Guests won’t often see this when they are visiting the parks, but the next time you are in Orlando, have a look at Disney’s water. It often appears there’s a fountain in the middle of each lake or body of water, and that’s to keep it flowing non-stop.
Disney still puts this practice into place whenever they build a new area featuring water. They’ll make sure they do something to keep the water flowing, which often requires the purchase of extra land. This allows them to build drainage ditches, which stop the water from standing still and attracting mosquitoes. It’s one of the most incredible hidden secrets at Disney World and one we encourage you to look out for on your next trip.
The Buildings at Walt Disney World
As well as this incredible idea to keep water moving at all times, you’ll find that Disney’s buildings are also created to avoid water collecting at any time. Any structure you find in the parks will keep water flowing off it, which is necessary with all of the rain that Florida sees at certain points of the year. If the buildings weren’t designed in this way, you’d find that the water would start to pool, giving the mosquitoes the perfect spot to lay their eggs. In no time at all, the parks would be overrun by these pests. That’s why no building has the ability for water to collect, while also offering a functional and attractive building to house an attraction, show, or restaurant. We can thank the Imagineers and the hard work they put into each new building for the lack of mosquitoes we experience in the parks.
The plants and garden features around the parks are also designed and planted in a way that stops standing water from gathering. Plants are only added if they don’t allow puddles to grow because these also attract mosquitoes. You’ll also notice that the bodies of water in the resort are kept free of plants that attract mosquitoes, including water lilies. They add fish to any of these water bodies, which will eat larvae, so they don’t have to worry about dealing with these. As you can see, Disney takes a multi-faceted approach to their mosquito prevention techniques, but you’ll certainly find it pays off on your next trip.
Employing Chickens to Combat Mosquitoes
Another fun way in which Disney keeps the mosquitoes away is to employ a flock of sentinel chickens. These chickens eat mosquitoes, and so if any do make their way onto the land, they are safely destroyed by these creatures. However, chickens can still be infected by any viruses the bugs might be carrying, but they aren’t harmed in the same way that humans are by these infections. Disney took blood samples from these chickens between 2018 and 2019 to see whether any viruses existed within the resorts’ mosquitoes, but it’s unclear what the results were. It’s just another great example of what Disney does to ensure you have a safe and comfortable vacation.
Do You Need Insect Repellent for Your Next Trip?
One thing to keep in mind when planning for your next trip is whether you need insect repellent. You might also be wondering if the parks use any type of spray to keep pests away. Walt Disney was never a fan of using chemicals in the parks, and he didn’t allow pesticides to be used when building his projects. Instead, a natural route is taken. You might be surprised to learn that Disney uses liquid garlic in order to detract the mosquitoes. These bugs hate the smell of garlic, which is why this is used throughout the parks. Of course, you’ve likely never thought Disney smells of garlic. Only the tiniest amount of this is used, so we can’t smell it, but these pests are much more susceptible to the smell than us.
As far as packing your own insect repellent, Disney encourages on their website for you to use EPA-registered insect repellents or protective clothing. According to Disney’s site, there are free insect repellent stations in the parks. You can ask a cast member to direct you to these, and you’ll be able to enjoy keeping the pests away while you are exploring the parks.
Due to growing concerns about the Zika virus, Disney did add more information to their site with guidance on how to minimize your chance of contracting the virus. You need to avoid mosquito bites in the first place, which can be done with insect repellent and protective clothing. Make sure you always follow the instructions on the product you are using and apply sunscreen first before your insect repellent. While it can be hard in the hot summer weather, try to cover your skin as much as possible to avoid bites in the first place. If you have young children, make sure you are careful when applying insect repellents and avoid their hands, mouth, and eyes. Double-check if your product is suitable for young children, and then apply it as directed.
What Other Pests Should You Know About at Disney World?
With Florida’s natural environment and hot climate, you need to remember that it’s normal to see a variety of wildlife during a trip to Walt Disney World. Mosquitoes aren’t the only pests you might come across, although most of the creatures you’ll see are completely harmless. If you’ve never visited in May before, you might be surprised by the huge influx of lovebugs that the parks experience. While these are harmless bugs that don’t bite or sting, they are an absolute pain to experience during this time. They usually come to Central Florida twice each year, but May is a time of the year that you can pretty much guarantee they’ll be around. Expect to see them on your car and throughout the parks, getting in the way of relaxing at times when you are sunbathing or eating.
Ants are another bug you’ll notice in the parks, but the good news is most of them are completely harmless. The only exception to this is fire ants, which can be very harmful and cause an allergic reaction. We recommend avoiding going barefoot when walking outdoors in order to prevent being bitten by ants. Spiders are commonly found in Florida, but for the most part, the ones in the parks aren’t venomous. However, make sure you take precautions where possible, as you might find you get a bite at night if you sit outdoors with just shorts on. Wherever you are walking in Orlando, make sure you look out for signs about animals or warnings for the local area. This will give you an idea of where you need to walk to stay safe on your next trip.
The time and effort that Disney puts into making their land safe and pest-free are absolutely incredible. You’ll rarely see mosquitoes in the parks, and it’s all thanks to the work they put into avoiding standing water anywhere on the property. Make sure you still take precautions where possible to avoid insect bites, and you’ll find you have a safe and carefree vacation the next time you are in Walt Disney World.