DISNEY World know that mosquitoes are one of the biggest bugbears of a holiday – and so have ingenious ways of keeping them at bay.
With Disney World in Florida, which is surrounded by swampland and water pools, some guests may be surprised to see barely any critters in the park.
While there’s no miraculous Disney-magic method that completely eliminates all bugs, it is nearly completely pest free thanks to a man called Joe Potter.
If you’ve taken the ferry from the Ticket and Transportation Center to the Magic Kingdom, you may have noticed the name “General Joe Potter” on one of the boats.
MIT graduate and engineering expert Major General William “Joe” Potter met Walt Disney during the 1964 World’s Fair. Joe had previously served as governor of the Panama Canal Zone, an area ravaged by malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
According to Christoper Lucas, author of “Top Disney: 100 Top Ten Lists of the Best of Disney,” this was where Joe developed his extensive knowledge of pest control as one of the engineers fighting to control the swarms.
As Joe and Walt Disney talked at the World’s Fair, the former mentioned his background in controlling mosquitoes.
Disney “hired him on the spot” and put him in charge of keeping mosquitoes out of the expansive theme park he was planning on building in central Florida, Christopher explains in his book.
Joe then used a number of innovative techniques and designs to keep the biting bugs away.
Disney’s methods aren’t to kill bugs but to prevent bugs from being in the park at all.
So their methods target the larvae instead—they make the park a non-ideal environment for mosquitoes to live or lay their eggs.
One of the ways they allegedly accomplish this is by making sure the park has no standing water—mosquitoes are attracted to still water and it’s an ideal environment for them to lay eggs.
Christopher continued: “You [need to] get rid of their breeding ground, which is standing water.”
When Joe got to work on construction for Disney World, he immediately set about building drainage ditches to remove all of the water, converting the swampy land to buildable land.
And those ditches—nicknamed “Joe’s ditches”—are still used today, to keep all of the water in Disney parks constantly moving.
Christoper explained: “The guests usually don’t notice it…but the water is constantly flowing.
“Whenever you walk by a body of water, there’s usually a fountain in the middle of it, or they’re doing something to keep it flowing.”
Whenever Disney prepares to build a new property, such as one of these best Disney resorts for a perfect family vacation, they buy a lot more land than the property itself requires, so that they can build drainage ditches to allow them to keep the water moving.
Disney’s buildings, too, are designed to prevent standing water from collecting.
Christopher wrote: “All of the buildings are built so that water flows right off of [them].
“With all the rainstorms, if water got caught on the buildings…it would form a pool, and then mosquitoes would hatch their eggs and you’d have thousands of mosquitoes.”
So Disney World buildings have a certain shape that doesn’t allow water to collect. It’s something that guests would never notice but is very effective.
He added: “They made every building there curved, or designed in a way so there’d be no place for the water to catch and sit there.
“The architecture is really appealing to the eye, but it also serves a purpose: It makes it less conducive to mosquitoes.”
Even the plants in and around the Disney World property are chosen with the intention of eliminating standing water. Plants are chosen because they won’t allow water to puddle in them. Bodies of water are kept free of plants like water lilies that mosquito larvae can hide underneath.
Christopher explained: “They also stock-fill those places with minnows, goldfish, and a type of fish called mosquito fish that eat the larvae.”
Garlic extract spray
Right from the get-go, Walt Disney made it clear that he didn’t want nasty chemicals floating around his park.
Christoper said: “[He] did not want to ruin the environment at all, so they couldn’t use pesticides.
“It’d be easy to just spray the whole thing, but he wanted it to be something natural.”
So, instead of pesticides, the park uses an unusual insect repellent: liquid garlic.
Mosquitoes notoriously can’t stand the smell of garlic, so Disney sprays an extract around the park.
He added: “The amount that they use is so small that humans can’t smell it, but mosquitoes are very susceptible to it.
Christopher also said: “Without [Joe], they might’ve built the place, but [Disney would] have a problem today with mosquitoes.”
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This article was originally published by Fox News and has been reproduced with permission.