Thursday, December 01, 2011

Walt Disney World and my eco-tourism impression

Until my last vacation, Walt Disney World never struck me as being particularly eco-friendly. Theme parks always seemed to me to consume resources instead of giving back. My last trip to Walt Disney World changed that view. I always have fun on my vacations there but this time I came away impressed in other ways.

Hubby at Seasons Grill in Epcot
It turns out that Walt Disney World is actually leading the way when it comes to theme parks and green tourism. The earth friendly commitment includes biodegradable straws, food from the Walt Disney World greenhouse and being a designated Florida green tourism designation.

Recycling and other earth friendly efforts are something that visitors to Walt Disney World can get behind. Even kids can toss a plastic bottle into a recycling bin. Adults can help by making sure that towels are reused and in-room items are disposed of properly.

Even the food courts have gotten in on the act at Walt Disney World. Drinking straws are made of a biodegradable heavy paper. These are much easier on the environment than the traditional plastic straws that I was familiar with.
Recycling and paper straws turned out to be the tip of the iceberg at Walt Disney World. Would you believe that the park even grows some of the food that is served? I didn't. The educational programs and Disney Conservation fund also came as a surprise to me.
Here are a few other things that I learned at Walt Disney World. 

Behind the Seeds at Living with the Land
At the Living With the Land pavilion at Epcot visitors can go behind the scenes to see the Walt Disney World greenhouse. This is where some of the food is raised that is served at the food court in this pavilion. It turns out that the greenhouse is a research project that benefits visitors, Walt Disney World and the space program.
A cast member leads the tour to explain about everything you see. There are watermelon and tomato trees and even freshwater shrimp. The fish and plants are being studied at Walt Disney World to determine how they can best maximize yield. Little to no soil is being used to grow the fish and produce. The work you see here will be beneficial to future space exploration where resources will be limited.
The Behind the Seeds tour isn't included with the admission to Walt Disney World. An upcharge applies. However, you can get a peek at the greenhouse on the Living with the Land tour which is included in the park admission.
Green Disney Merchandise
The amount of eco-friendly merchandise for sale in the shops surprised me. There were some great reusable totes, adorable stuffed animals and green stationery products to choose from. A cast member even helped me find eco-friendly souvenirs that were on clearance. Eco-friendly and bargains are too hard to pass up at Walt Disney World.
Florida Green Lodging Program
Until my trip to Walt Disney World I had never heard about the FloridaGreen Lodging Program. To receive this voluntary certification tourism properties must meet or exceed set standards in the area of sustainable tourism. This means that they must recycle, conserve water, meet standards in indoor air quality, energy efficiency and other categories.
Information on the program was in our room at the Pop Century Resort in Walt Disney World. Guests are ask to use the recycling bin provided in the room. We were told that sheets would be changed every four days unless otherwise requested.
To conserve water, a retractable clothesline is provided so towels could be placed there to dry and reused. Housekeeping will replace any towels left on the floor with clean one. Also, although we were very comfortable during our stay we could only adjust the thermostat within set parameters.
Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
Walt Disney World promotes conservation efforts by supporting organizations like the National Audubon Society and Jane Goodall Institute. As a Walt Disney World guest it makes me feel good to know that part of my hard spent money is going to environmental organizations.
Transportation whisked
us away to Downtown
Disney for this photo.
Transportation
Until a cast member pointed it out I never thought about how the famous Disney transportation system helps the environment. There are almost 2,900 rooms at the Pop Century Resort at Walt Disney World. Without the transportation system each family would have a round trip drive to each of the parks. The result would be traffic congestion and increased emissions.
This means that thousands of cars are off the road per day from Pop Century Resort alone. It doesn't take into account the driving that would be done for families to see different parks at Walt Disney World or go to Downtown Disney.
These are just a few ways that Walt Disney World is leading the way in earth-friendly green tourism. It's also a few more reasons why my family enjoys vacationing there. Not only is Walt Disney World the most magical place on earth but it could well be among the most environmentally friendly places to be.

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