Americans set the standard in doing big things well… Disney World logistics astounding


Rather than another column on federal government bureaucratic machinations to annoy the ag industry, your humble writer instead relates his observations from a visit to Disneyworld (DW) in Orlando, Florida. This massive entertainment complex is a positive reflection on what American society can do so well. It all started out with an idea that Walt Disney had back in 1956 and has blossomed into a colossal global enterprise that thrills and entertains millions everyday around the world. The crown jewel has to be DW in Florida – a supersized collection of theme parks and resorts that is said to generate several billion dollars a year in revenue. DW capacity is 100,000 per day but the average is 50,000 whom it is estimated spend about $200 each per day – that’s at least $10 million per day. The daily entrance fee is $116, that’s up from $3.50 per day when it first opened. DW keeps up with inflation and it is well known for being on the expensive side, especially when its all in US dollars. But then it needs a big cash flow just to keep up with the expenses and capital investment.
DW has 70,000 employees including their own security force. It’s the largest single employer in the USA – you can imagine the supervision involved just to make sure employees show up for work each day at the right place. Depending on what you do and where you work – everyone wears some sort of uniform or costume. Interestingly DW workers are not allowed to say “I don’t know”, they must help every guest. Service is paramount at this operation; the underlying intent is to make every guest feel so happy and satisfied that they will come back for another visit – and it works. The Disney marketing machine is probably the most sophisticated in the world, they are pioneers and innovators at using every possible angle in getting their message out to entice folks to visit their parks spread around the world. Their electronic and social media presence is top of the line and top of mind, as it should be, these folks invented animation and imagination when it comes to entertainment.
Operating logistics at DW are monumental, but most operate after hours. DW guests consume 10 million burgers per year, 8 million hot dogs, 50 million cokes, curiously they sell 1.6 million turkey legs a year, I guess its an American delicacy. They operate 300 restaurants on site all of which must require vast quantities of food and supplies on a daily basis. DW says they grow up to 30 tons of their own fruits and vegetables each year, much of it produced through high tech hydroponics. Their trash collection system uses a network of compressed air tubes that suck garbage from thousands of receptacles to central collection points. DW is all within a 43 square mile block, at present only about 30% is actually being used in one way or another. The park itself is a labyrinth of lakes, bayous, canals, swamps and sandhills. Billions have been invested in facilities, accommodations and infrastructure. They are in the midst of developing a vast aerial cable car network connecting the resorts and parks on a mind-boggling scale. Renovation and expansion is continuous – all in the intent to get folks to come back again and again.
There are downsides, the climate can be oppressive particularly for this Albertan – it was 90-90 during my visit. That’s 90 degrees F and 90% humidity. Curiously in the blazing hot sun few guests wear hats, only females seem to wear those ubiquitous mickey mouse ears in various fashion styles. What is amazing about DW is that there are no mosquitoes or any visible bugs to be found for that matter. Considering that DW is built in a swamp with thousands of acres of standing water, the lack of pesky bugs is all the more curious. As expected DW employs a sophisticated surveillance program to find nuisance insects and then destroys them with insecticides, they also release millions of predator bugs. They even have sentinel chickens in specific locations to monitor their blood for mosquito-borne diseases like zika and west nile. Rats are ruthlessly hunted down that includes a herd of neutered feral cats. They also allow non-poisonous black racer snakes, notorious for their rat appetite, to proliferate. At DW nothing is left to chance to make guests happy, and they do it very well. Will Verboven is an ag opinion writer and ag policy consultant.