Disneyland's trains save money by switching to used french fry oil

As of last week, Disneyland's locomotives won't be belching out clouds of noxious black exhaust. The park's signature railroad, which loops around the campus, now smells an awful lot like lunch.

In a brilliant move that is both environmentally savvy and penny-pinching, Disneyland has learned how to convert its cooking oil into a biofuel. Now, instead of throwing away their used deep-frying oils, the restaurants at Disney's two California parks and its hotels will send it for treatment so it can power the steam engines.

The five Disneyland locomotives use about 200,000 gallons of fuel a year, and the park expects the ravenous eating habits of its guests, who order fries with nearly every meal, to generate about the half the fuel necessary for the year. With time, the park's rep says, it expects the switch to pay off because the cost of biofuel is much less volatile than the price of diesel. The resort was previously dumping its old oil. Now it can be used twice.

In terms of Disney lore, the economical switch is deeply meaningful. Trains provided the germ of the idea for Disneyland. Walt Disney had a whole railroad built in his back yard, and when he was first toying with the concept of Disneyland, a central goal was to share his love for trains.