Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Can a Trip to Disney World be Zero Waste?!

Hey Earth Muffins! Wow – it feels great writing an actual post for you all! If you read my latest updates, you will know that my boyfriend and I recently took a trip to Disney World over spring break, before all the craziness of Mister Corona started. We definitely lucked out with timing, as most (if not all) of the Disney parks are now closed due to the pandemic (please stay safe out there everyone!). After my boyfriend and I had picked our destination, I was excited to see if visiting Disney parks is possible when you are zero waste or, like me, trying to be as low waste as possible. We were in Orlando, FL for only a total of 4 days and hit up two different parks: Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.

Image of Cinderella castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom with the words Doing Disney Zero Waste across it
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So the big question is, can a trip to Disney be sustainable? For the short answer: yes, it is totally possible to stay sustainable when hitting up one of Disney’s parks. BUT, it does require some effort. From our experience, I wanted to share some of my suggestions for making a trip to Disney World as low waste as possible.

Take advantage of the fact that you can bring bags into the park. My parents gifted me an adorable mini backpack purse for Christmas, so I was able to bring food and my 8 oz stainless steel water bottle into the park with me. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to bring in metal, but Disney is apparently only strict about no glass in the parks. That being said, you can bring in as many reusable containers as you want, which is awesome if you are wanting to reduce single use items when it comes to food and water as well as save a lot of money with how expensive Disney food is. There are plenty of water fountains around the parks too, so don’t worry about running out of water!

Reuse your Magic Band if you have been to Disney before (or are an Annual Passholder). Even if your band was linked to a different account you are able to re-link it to a new account, which saves you from having a plastic card/ticket to enter the parks and use for FastPass. If this is your first time to the park, no worries! Save your Magic Band for either your next trip or give to family/friends who will be going (who can then re-link the band to their own account).

Use the My Disney Experience app instead of paper maps, menus, etc. The Disney app has everything you could possibly need during your visit including wait times, maps, dinner reservations, booking FastPasses, etc. Make sure that someone in your group has a phone that has a battery that will last all day or bring a travel charger if you have one.

Image of the Tangled area at Disney's Magic Kingdom in OrlandoTake advantage of the dinner reservation feature of the app and take a break by eating in instead of eating out! Many of the Instagram worthy mouse shaped treats come with a lot of waste in tow… Even though Disney did make the switch to paper straws, single use items are still mainly used. If you have the financial resources, try a sit-down restaurant instead! My boyfriend and I had been gifted a bunch of Disney gift cards before our trip, so we definitely took advantage of eating in and found some really tasty food along the way!

Eat vegetarian/vegan options! On the topic of food, I suggest reducing your impact on the planet by utilizing the many vegetarian and vegan options at Disney. I have been a pescatarian since August (a post to come on this adventure in the near future!) and was excited to learn about all of the great options they have in their parks. Many of the take-out options are pretty customizable when it comes to removing meat from say a Greek salad (the price will also be less).

Reduce your food waste by ordering off the kid’s menu. I’ll be the first to admit that my stomach is the size of a large snail. Okay, it’s probably bigger than that, but I get full SO easily. To prevent throwing away half of a meal, I would definitely recommend either splitting or ordering from the kid’s menu. No one at Disney cares if you aren’t 12 and under (I promise!), and the meals are actually quite large, healthy, and cheaper than the adult versions of the same thing.

Use alternative transportation to get to the parks! Reduce the emissions from yet another car going to Disney and use the many other forms of transportation available in Orlando. Many of the resorts and outside hotels have shuttle services or take an UberPool instead.

Buy your Mickey merch at the thrift store (or borrow from family/friends) BEFORE you get to the park. While thrifting for Disney apparel is definitely a trial and error process because of the brand’s popularity, it can be done. After keeping my eye out for a couple of months, I found an adorable Mickey shirt for only $0.25 at one of the local thrift stores in Ann Arbor! I actually saw a woman wearing the same exact shirt at Magic Kingdom, but my impact on the planet was much much smaller. If you aren’t having any luck, try borrowing clothes (and even Mickey ears) from family or friends. This will also save you hella coin at the parks!

Be smart with your souvenir choices and avoid all plastic ones! I won’t sit here and tell you to not buy a souvenir at all because then I would be a hypocrite. But, you can still buy things at the parks that aren’t terrible for the environment. We bought a couple of paper postcards to use as wall décor (which can then be recycled if we ever get bored of them) and then a glass ornament for our Christmas tree. While avoiding plastic souvenirs gets much harder when you have kids, try to steer your eager shopper towards something that will last a long time like a metal pin, glass figurine, etc.

Image of Cinderella Castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom with a heart drawn in the corner

Overall, I think you can definitely make your trip at Disney a sustainable one! Like any situation, you just need to be cognizant of the impact your decisions will have. But, don’t feel like your whole trip has to be fully sustainable! I personally feel like doing my best to live zero/low waste 90% of the time is totally fine because I am still doing a ton to help out the planet. If you want to splurge on a plastic Elsa doll or a Mickey ice cream sandwich in plastic wrap 10% of the time, I say go for it! We all deserve a little extra at the happiest place in the world.


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1 comment:

  1. These are such wonderful suggestions! I adore Disney and have a vacation planned there for the fall (assuming life returns to normal by then). I always like to order the kids meals as well because Disney always gives you SO much food. Then you end up wasting it!
    the creation of beauty is art.


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