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The grass in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure is now artificial turf, one of the water saving measures taken at the Disneyland Resort. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)
The grass in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure is now artificial turf, one of the water saving measures taken at the Disneyland


Disneylandia .-   Millions of people visit the Disneyland Resort every year and that can leave a big ecological footprint. But it’s an impact that has been reduced by a push to recycle. “We recycled over 25 million pounds of material last year,” said Donna Baker, the resort’s manager of regulated waste.

A Custodial cast member (a Jannie in their own slang) collects trash and recyclables from cans on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)


 That material includes paper, bottles, cans, plastic and even used soap from the resort’s more than 2,300 hotel rooms. The soap is collected and given to the “Clean the World” organization, where it is sanitized and then distributed globally to those in need.

 Saving the Environment the Disneyland Way

 Water used at the resort has always gotten a lot of attention. Since Disneyland was built in 1955, the water ponds and creeks were — and still are — connected in a “closed loop” system. They include Storybook Canal, Sleeping Beauty Castle moat, Rivers of America and the Jungle Cruise. That water is continuously sent through a filtration system. The same thing happens to the 16 million gallon lagoon at Disney California Adventure, which takes 36 hours to filter.
A solar panel installation sits atop the show building for Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure. The panels generate electricity for the park and feature more than 1,400 panels. The power they generate help power the race cars on the Radiator Springs Racers ride. (Photo by Courtesy, The Disneyland Resort)

All the other water-based rides are each individually closed loop as well. When they are drained for maintenance, including the Rivers of America, that water is sent to the Orange County Water District to be recycled through its groundwater replenishment system. Rainwater has been getting increased attention, too. Cars Land was designed so that all the rain that falls on its 12 acres is filtered, then sent to filtration basins under the rockwork for the land, where it is allowed to percolate down into Orange County’s groundwater table.

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The Toy Story parking lot was designed to do the same thing, including porous asphalt where the cars park, along with nearby filtration basins. Similar plans have been developed for the “Star Wars” land project under construction at Disneyland. Reducing water use for the resort’s landscaping has also been a priority.


Many of the plants in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure are rarely watered, just like in the desert the area depicts. In addition, the runoff from rain is collected and placed into filtration ponds underneath the rock work where it filters down into Orange County’s groundwater supply. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)


Sensors monitor the soil at locations throughout the resort.

That information is sent to computers that also receive weather forecasts and those computers determine what needs water and when. Much of that water arrives not via sprinklers, but by drip-tubes. “We have about 25 miles of drip-tubing on the property,” said Ryan Childs, manager of landscaping at the resort. Water is used in saving energy at the resort too. As part of the Cars Land project, a 1.7 million-gallon thermal water tank was built to hold chilled water. It was plumbed into the park’s air-conditioning systems. “We can make chilled water at night, when electricity is readily available, then use that water in the air-conditioning systems in the afternoons,” said Eric Schlotthauer, the resort’s manager of utilities.

This 1.7 million gallon water tank at the Disneyland Resort sits near Cars Land. It is a thermal tank that holds chilled water at 43 degrees used in the air conditioning systems at the resort. The water is chilled at night so as not to tax the electrical grid. Then at peak times in the sunny afternoon, the cold water is used to cool buildings around the resort, without needing a lot of electricity at peak times. (Photo by courtesy, The Disneyland Resort)
 Afternoons, particularly on hot summer days, are when electrical grids are most challenged, Schlotthauer said. Using chilled water from the tank decreases electricity demand by the resort at those peak times. Those sunny summer days, however, are important to the resort in a different way: Right next to the tank, on top of the Radiator Springs Racers “show building,” is a solar panel array. The 40,000 square-foot array, with 1,440 panels, went online in 2016 and makes 625,000-kilowatt hours of electricity every year. It goes straight into the ride, powering the race cars. Resort officials are looking into adding more solar panels around the resort, possibly on top of other show buildings and elsewhere.

A parking lot tram pulls into the Downtown Disney Station at the Disneyland Resort. The trams now run on energy efficient compressed natural gas. (File photo by: Joshua Sudock, Orange County Register/SCNG)


 Lighting can consume a lot of electricity, but that usage is being reduced as well, as the resort is converting to energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lighting in many places. The most noticeable were the conversion of the lights on Mickey’s Fun Wheel, and for the “World of Color” show at Disney California Adventure. The cars on Main Street U.S.A. do not use electricity, but they don’t use gasoline either. They burn CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) in their engines, as do the parking lot trams that run from the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure. Recycling also helps to power other park rides, via the cooking oil used in the fryers at the resort’s restaurants.

The Disneyland Fire Engine rides up and down Main Street U.S.A. offering rides on a daily basis. The fire engine is powered by compressed natural gas, as are the other vehicles that run on Main Street U.S.A. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The used cooking oil is sent to a vendor and processed into biodiesel fuel used by the park for its Mark Twain Riverboat and the steam-powered locomotives that pull the cars on the Disneyland Railroad. Food scraps are now being recycled too, with plans to increase that process. In 2010 and 2014, the resort did a study of its waste and found that more than 25 percent of it was wasted food, leftover from visitor’s plates. “People will sometimes buy more than they can consume, so part of what we want to do is make sure that the portion sizes are adequate to their needs,” said Jacob Raykhelson, manager of environmental integration for the resort.

Though the Disneyland Railroad is closed due to the construction of “Star Wars” Land, when the steam engines run, they are powered by biodiesel to make their water boil. This is #3, the Fred Gurley. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)
 To divert those leftovers from going to landfills, the resort installed extra trash cans at its various restaurants where servers and those bussing the tables could separate out the food leftovers from the other trash like napkins and drink cups. Those leftovers are sent to an outside vendor where they are treated and used to supplement for animal feed on farms – “mostly pig farms,” Raykhelson said, adding that last year 5 million pounds of leftovers were sent to the vendor. Besides leftovers, the resort now donates much of its prepared, unserved food to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.


The 16 million gallon lagoon at Disney California Adventure is in a closed loop set up. It takes 36 hours for all the water to move through its filtration and purification system. When the lagoon is drained every 7-10 years, the water is sent to the Orange County Water District where it is filtered into the county’s groundwater table. (Photo by Mark Eades, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 Thanks to the food programs, in 2014, the resort won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Food Recovery Challenge, and thanks to the recycling programs, it was also recognized with the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award from the state of California in 2009.


http://www.ocregister.com/2017/04/20/how-disneyland-has-reduced-its-ecological-footprint-by-saving-water-recycling/


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