A Tucson, Ariz.-based company recently landed a $20 million contract to make plastic landscape for Walt Disney Co.'s theme park in Orlando, Fla. Harold Schifman, Larson Co. president and chief executive, said the one-year contract for the 500-acre-plus Wild Animal Kingdom is the largest single contract the firm has won in its 20-year history. Completion is scheduled for December.
Scott Krenzer, vice president of manufacturing, said the firm uses fiberglass, expanded polystyrene foam, polyurethane and epoxy. Tree bark, for example, is made from thickened, embossed epoxy. Much of the landscaping is done using EPS foam cores sprayed with a urethane coating, or cast from urethane for coral and tree foliage. The company makes rock formations, animals and mannequins of glass-fiber-reinforced composite materials.
Larson has done work for other Disney parks: Disneyland, Disney World and Euro Disney. The firm also has made artificial landscape for zoos and parks.
Ease of maintenance is the major reason for choosing plastic flora and fauna, Krenzer said.
``Also, park creators can get exactly the kind of landscaping they want,'' he said.
Often, the artificial landscaping helps hide surveillance cameras and lighting fixtures.
Larson also is working with a Nebraska firm to make pine trees with PVC foliage. It also uses PVC pipe to hide cellular antennas, allowing the company to get zoning permits. Larson recently finished research and development on a palm tree that uses fishing rod plugs with a urethane coating to make the palm fronds look real.
``The cost of doing the disguise treatment is minimal in the overall cost of getting the sites up and going,'' Krenzer said.
Larson employs about 300 people worldwide, including in Israel, Malaysia and China.