Between the water fountains, the regular fountains, the pools, the water rides and toilets, it’s no surprise that Disney World goes through a lot of water on any given day. But just how much water is used at Walt Disney World? To cut straight to the chase, a LOT. According to the RCID 2017 Utilities Report, the district used nearly 6 billion gallons of water that year. That averages out to around 16.1 million gallons every single day. So how do we know this and what does this figure account for?
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The reason we know this figure is because of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Back in the 1960s when Disney World was still just an idea, it was intended to be a lot more than just a vacation destination. Walt had plans for EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. It was going to be a real inhabited city that would remain on the cutting edge of progress, to serve as an example of what other cities around the world could achieve themselves. In order to do that, Disney needed the autonomy that would allow them to pursue brand new and experimental methods of construction and governance that traditional red tape would otherwise hold back. That’s where the Reedy Creek Improvement District came in. I have another video all about the District that goes into more depth, but the short version is that the district was formed to fit the land that Disney owned so that they would effectively have control over the jurisdiction.
In other words while Disney technically doesn’t own the Reedy Creek Improvement District, it is essentially controlled by them and represents their Florida land. So these utility figures encompass all of their land, and not much else. That means that this 5.9 billion gallons covers a lot. Everything from the tap water to the fountains and pools to water rides to toilet water and sprinkler systems. Even the water used in all of the behind-the-scenes buildings across the entire property is accounted for.
Pumping that much water is no easy task. Reedy Creek is permitted to draw from 8 water wells that tap into the upper Floridan Aquifer, and they use four water pumping stations that have a collective capacity of 59 million gallons per day which then distributes the water through over 70 miles of pipe. On top of that they have five above ground water storage tanks that, together, can hold over 7 million gallons of water. This is their backup water that they’ll tap into for the few times where the demand surpasses the water pump capacity. This, as you might expect, is more likely to happen during the hotter summer months. For instance last June they were averaging around 20 million gallons a day rather than the annual average of 16 million gallons per day.
About that number. 16.1 million gallons of water a day. What does that look like? Just how much water is that? Well, since apparently everybody likes to use Olympic sized swimming pools as a unit of measurement, that amounts to 24 and a half Olympic sized swimming pools. To use a more relevant comparison, and to also highlight just how massive these tanks are, the daily water usage at Walt Disney World would fill up the salt water tanks at the Seas in Epcot 2.8 times. Lastly, to use a completely ridiculous comparison, if you were to take all of that water and put them in your standard bottle of water, it would fill 122.6 million bottles. At Disney prices that many water bottles would cost you nearly 370 million dollars.
Like all of the other utilities on Walt Disney World property, Reedy Creek doesn’t mess around. They know that while it may seem like just a vacation destination to us, it takes the effort, planning, and infrastructure of not one, but two cities to make it all a reality.