Instructor Cully Nordby and UCLA students at Disney California Adventure Park.
Instructor Cully Nordby and UCLA students at Disney California Adventure Park.

Disney Environmental Affairs invites IoES class backstage to learn how theme parks stay “green”

Walt Disney said, “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.” To fulfill the Walt Disney Company’s commitment to the environment, Disney Parks and Resorts have developed innovations to preserve the planet for generations to come. On February 7, the Disney Environmental Affairs team led students in UCLA course Environment M1 (Environment & Sustainability) on a behind-the-scenes tour of Disney California Adventure Park’s eco-friendly operations.

Sponsored by the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, Environment M1 is a team taught, year-long sequence open to freshmen of all majors. The course focuses on the conflict between human activities and the environmental protection and restoration essential to the long-term well-being of the Earth. Students study with distinguished faculty, delve into thematic, interdisciplinary material, complete over a third of their general education requirements, and fulfill a writing requirement.

Water is a critical resource and through the years the Disneyland Resort has implemented a variety of programs and practices to minimize their overall consumption. Engineers have created advanced treatment technologies and new techniques are being developed for measurement of ecosystem functions and services, particularly as they apply to biogeochemistry and water quality. Disney California Adventure reduces its water consumption by utilizing efficient fixtures and focusing on alternative supplies, either through reusing water or by utilizing non-freshwater sources.

The park’s nighttime attraction World of Color uses water fountains, colors, music, fire, lasers, special effects, and digital projection to bring Disney characters and stories to life in Paradise Bay. The Disneyland Resort collaborated with the Orange County Water District on how to conserve the 16 million gallons of water in Paradise Bay. Instead of draining the lagoon to the ocean, the water is sent through the Water District’s state-of-the-art Groundwater Replenishment System. After being purified, the water is stored in the county’s underground water basin, adding to the county’s overall water reserves. When the time is right, the purified water is reused to refill Paradise Bay.

Throughout Disney California Adventure efforts are taken to minimize waste sent to landfills. Reduce/reuse/recycle is standard operating procedure at the Disneyland Resort.

A day after the field trip, Disney California Adventure celebrated its 13th anniversary. The park officially welcomed guests on February 8, 2001. Environmental stewardship is part of Disney’s history and an important focus of their future.