Walt Disney was Apparently Thinking About Saving Water in Anaheim Long Before Drought

Walt Disney was Apparently Thinking About Saving Water in Anaheim Long Before Drought

The New York Times went to Disneyland--and all they got was a lousy Mickey Mouse t-shirt. Actually, the Gray Lady's Elizabeth Zach wanted to know whether the Rivers of America were still flowing given California's drought and state-mandated 20 percent water usage cutback.

Click here to find that out.

What I found more fascinating was Walt Disney's reported forward-thinking when it came to the wet stuff.

"Since 1955, water conservation has been one of our key environmental goals," said Suzi Brown, director of media relations and external communications for Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure, its nearby waterpark.

"Walt actually had conservation in mind when he built Disneyland." She pointed out that two-thirds of Disneyland's original storm drains flow into interconnected canals that feed Rivers of America, Storybook Land, Castle Moat and Jungle Cruise.

Looking at California Adventure's big fake lagoon through a telescope in New York may lead the observer to think the theme park is a water park, but actually the second Disney Anaheim theme park is a theme park. There are plans somewhere under the stacks of paper on Bob Iger's messy desk for a water park in Anaheim. Someday. Supposedly.

Anyway, we should all tip our glass to Uncle Walt for being smart enough to incorporate recycled water into the original park with such wet attractions as It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and the aforementioned Rivers of America.

Yes, heat and evaporation do mean those rides and others like Splash Mountain must be topped off sometimes. But beyond recycling (and Mr. Disney, R.I.P.), Imagineers went on to incorporate weather-based irrigation systems for the resort's 60,000 lawn and garden sprinklers, flow sensors and cutoff valves to detect leaks and storm water treatment devices that allow water infiltration into groundwater.

Brown claims Anaheim Disney Resort water usage has been reduced or maintained since our current drought began (thanks, Obama!). Keep in mind that over that time there has been a corresponding increase in Mouse House attendance and operating hours as well as expansion of the resort.

Of course, being in the center of the county allows Anaheim to draw from the award-winning toilet-to-tap system--which, by the way, I don't recall having seen in the Monsanto House of the Future.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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