Which uses more power: Disney or Las Vegas?
February 13, 2010 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Which uses more electrical power: All of the hotels and attractions on the Las Vegas strip, or all of the hotels and attractions within Walt Disney World in Florida?

This is to settle a bet.

Bonus question: What's the worldwide consumption of electrical power at any given moment?
posted by Mwongozi to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: According to this 2007 Forbes article, Las Vegas uses 5,600MW on a summer day and is expected to use 8,000MW by 2015. It's hard to determine how much the strip uses by itself, but the article says that the casinos consume 20% of the city's entire electricity demand. Of course, not all of the casinos in Vegas are on the strip, but on the other hand the strip has more on it than just casinos. Call it a wash and say the strip uses 20%.

Now assuming power demand grew linearly and the article's projection for demand in 2015 is correct, then the strip consumes a peak of about 20% of 6,500MW, which is 1,300MW. That's the output of a large coal plant or medium nuclear plant.

This site claims (without citation) that the Walt Disney World resort uses 60-62MW on an average day. That number could be off by a factor of 10 and the Vegas strip would still use far more power than Disney World.

As to your bonus question: about 2 TW of the 15 TW of energy consumed worldwide is electrical energy. So something like two million times the electricity consumption of the Vegas strip.
posted by jedicus at 6:53 PM on February 13, 2010 [5 favorites]

Since most of the tourist spaces in Vegas are indoors and are air conditioned and heating and cooling devour huge amounts of electricity, I'm not sure it's a surprise that Disney World uses far less electricity than the Vegas strip.

It's going to be real hard to figure out where the numbers you're looking at came from, but if the Disney world numbers don't include surrounding hotel spaces and the Vegas numbers do include hotel space that is part and parcel with the casinos, the question should be what is Disney doing to suck down so much juice?

Your conspiracy theory about keeping the body of Walt Disney in liquid nitrogen go here.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:51 PM on February 13, 2010

Jedicus is right on with the Las Vegas usage. I had found the Forbes article, too, but misread the part that "casinos [...] represent 20% of Vegas' electricity demand" as "casinos [...] represent 20% of the state's electricity demand." I then proceeded to compose a rambling comment, taking the Dept. of Energy's statewide estimate of Nevada energy use through October '09 (2,727,000 megawatt-hours!) and converting it to megawatts per month, then dividing by five. The result (2,238 MW per month) actually fit in reasonably well with the MSNBC claim that the entire city consumed 5,586 MW in July of '09. But yeah, the real figure is currently ~1,300 MW per day for the Strip's casinos.

As for Disney World, this Orlando Sentinel piece states that the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which services Disney World and the surrounding hotels and facilities, puts out about 120 MW per day during the height of summer. So in comparable seasons Sin City will outshine the Magic Kingdom by a factor of ten.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:35 PM on February 13, 2010

Response by poster: I lost the bet, but thanks to all for providing far more information than I expected. :)
posted by Mwongozi at 6:09 AM on February 14, 2010

On a side note, many of the casinos actually generate a portion of their own electricity, so they may be consuming more that the article suggests.

Of course, Disney World may be doing the same.
posted by krisak at 8:31 AM on February 14, 2010

Here's the Rio's report on the Rio's use of cogeneration: Warning - PDF.

I believe there are a couple of others also using technologies like this, especially the newer casinos. Granted in total that's probably (throwing dart at a board here) less than 100 MW of electricity use that isn't being counted in that article.

If, indeed, the article isn't already taking it into account...
posted by krisak at 8:40 AM on February 14, 2010

The article linked by jedicus says Las Vegas consumes about 6 gigawatts.

Wikipedia, backed up by Google, says the world as a whole consumes about 2 terawatts.

That means the world consumes 333 times as much electricity as Las Vegas. Not jedicus's "two million".
posted by dmd at 11:36 AM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

That means the world consumes 333 times as much electricity as Las Vegas. Not jedicus's "two million".

Ah, yeah. Sorry, the units in the article were MW, and I forgot to account for the fact that it was thousands of MW. Anyway, the question was about the strip only, not the whole city of Vegas. The strip consumes about 1.3GW, so the world consumes about 1500 times as much as the Vegas strip.

But, hey, what's a few orders of magnitude between friends?
posted by jedicus at 1:52 PM on February 14, 2010

Which is still a mindblowingly small multiplier.
posted by dmd at 1:57 PM on February 14, 2010

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