Photo courtesy Wikimedia and Creative Commons license.
Nearly everything about Disneyland, including the out-of-control and egregious consumerism, horrifed me on a recent visit. So horrified me, really, that I had to quickly suspend my judgment and my feelings for the sake of my 12-year-old. Once I did that, I managed to have a great time, not just on the rides but in interactions with the people, especially one hot dog seller who could do inspired Disney character voices. And then I started to notice something strange and wonderful in Disney landscaping. Edible plants. Not just rosemary and thyme and pineapple sage, but also rows of something that certainly looked like grapes growing at the adjacent California Adventure Park. Simultaneously, then it on me how much water Disney must need to keep all this vegetation looking perfect every day of the year.While my ruminations on Disney's water use didn't go any further that day, wrapped up as I was in getting to Space Mountain at the right time to use the fast pass and consuming multiple plastic bottles of water, just a week later a news item on Hong Kong Disneyland caught my eye.
The latest Magic Kingdom uses 70% less water than a similar theme park of its size.
In fact Hong Kong Disneyland did not seem to be drawing any water to irrigate its 18,000 trees and one million (!) shrubs for much of the year.
That's all due to a manmade body of water called Inspiration Lake. After midnight, a series of computers go to work directing, according to the South China Morning Post, hundreds of sprinklers to pop out of the soil.
The magic is that the computer system is designed to give each of the plants exactly the water it needs and not a drop more, all coming from the 12-hectare Inspiration Lake, which acts as a reservoir and collection point for rainwater and run-off from the craggy hills surrounding the Hong Kong park.
The Disneyland computer system uses just a bit more than half of what a normal manually-operated irrigation system would use. The computer stores data about each plant's evapo-transpiration, or water uptake rate. That is adjusted based on weather, and the computer doles out the exact amount each individual Disneyland plant needs at night, after the guests have left.
This means that Inspiration Lake can supply the water needs for the entire 250-hectare park about 2/3rds of the year, without any water form the city needed.