Walt Disney's Unique Approach to Keeping Mickey's Cousins Out
If you ever vacation at one of the many Walt Disney resort parks, you may find yourself wondering—where are all of Mickey and Minnie’s cousins? Chances are, the only mice you’re liable to see at a Disney park are the costumed kind.
So how does the Happiest Place on Earth keep unwanted rodents away from all the tasty popcorn, ice cream and other treats that may or may not end up in the multitude of trash bins spread throughout the park?
Turns out, they have a secret weapon among their “cast members” (that’s Disney-speak for “employees”): feral cats.
Once Upon a Time…
It all began as a sort of happy accident at the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California, not long after the park opened in 1955. Two years into the park’s operation, a renovation of Cinderella’s Castle revealed that more than 100 furry felines had taken up residence.
It didn’t take park workers long to figure out who was responsible for the notable lack of mice in a park built around a mouse.
Walt Disney was a legendary perfectionist, who wanted his parks to evoke a ubiquitous sense of magic, while keeping the “real world” well outside. “Employing” cats to make sure Mickey and Minnie were the only rodents that park guests would encounter matched his high standards for excellence perfectly.
Cats, it turns out, are primarily crepuscular, meaning that they are most active during the hours surrounding dusk and dawn. Not only that, wild cats are naturally skittish around people, and will avoid them at all costs.
That means while humans stroll through Disney parks during the daytime, the cat brigade stays mysteriously out of sight, only fulfilling their job duties when people aren’t around to see them do it.
And make no mistake—Disney cats really are treated like they’re among the 60,000-plus employees at Disney parks worldwide. Although they aren’t exactly paid an hourly wage, they do receive free food, lodging and healthcare for their secret services.
The cats are so elusive, in fact, that many Disney vacationers have made a hobby of collecting photos of the cats while they’re “off duty.” There are websites and even social media accounts dedicated to chronicling their “service.”
Rodents, however, aren’t the only pest problem confronting Disney’s largest park, Walt Disney World. The 7,100 acres comprising Disney World in Florida was developed on a 47-square-mile plot of swampland bought by the Disney corporation in the 1950s.
Attack of the Swamp Thing(s)
Swamps are home to all kinds of nasty critters, including a couple that can ruin an otherwise great vacation: mosquitoes and biting flies. It would be practically unfeasible to spray insecticides across over 27,000 total acres of property, so the pest control department at Disney World came up with a creative solution: Ladybugs.
Actually, ladybugs are just the cutest and most recognizable of the predatory insects staff routinely release on Disney World property. “Big-eyed bugs,” “mealybug destroyers” and even snakes are regularly deployed to keep down the population of insects and other creatures that pose a health and safety risk to humans.
Although arguably adorable, cats and ladybugs might not fit in so well at your workplace. Instead, check out the commercial pest control services we have available if you have pest issues at your place of business.