The Walt Disney Company has been a pioneer in numerous areas of entertainment, from animation to theme parks. It’s no wonder, then, that they also are working on investing in clean energy for the sake of their customers and the future. In 2021, they unveiled plans to reduce the carbon footprint of their theme parks and resorts through the magic of Disney sustainability.
Disney’s newest ambition is to achieve net zero emissions in their direct operations by 2030. That’s quite a tall order for a company with so much to run, but they’re already on their way. They have thousands of solar panels powering parts of their parks, including at California Adventure next to the original Disneyland, Disneyland Tokyo, Disneyland Paris, and Disneyland Hong Kong. Adding up the solar energy they generate globally, Disney solar panels could power as many as 65,200 homes for a year.
In Florida, there’s not just one Walt Disney World solar farm, but two – one in the shape of Mickey Mouse! As you can see from the picture, this “Hidden Mickey” is not very concealed. Their plans include opening two more solar plants, with the goal of producing enough renewable energy to power about 40% of the usage across its four theme parks, resort hotels, and water parks.
You might be thinking that’s a lot of area covered by solar panels, and you’d be right. So doesn’t that mess up the surrounding environment by clearing away nature? Luckily, the the company thought ahead and worked with the Reedy Creek Improvement District and Origis Energy to make sure the local habitat would be alright coexisting with a Disney solar farm. More than two-thirds of one of the solar farms is made up of important areas to support wildlife. This will help pollinators like bees, and they’ve created a test garden to keep up ongoing research as well.
Solar isn’t the only green energy Disney’s taking part in. Their Disneyland in Paris has two theme parks and a hotel running on geothermal energy. Plans for the future include three new cruise ships that will run solely on natural gas. They also work to reduce their current energy usage and make existing output more efficient. Angie Renner, Environmental Integration Director at Walt Disney World Resort, says that one of her favorite LED projects is “when we light up the Cinderella Castle with 170,000 LED lights for the holidays – it only uses the energy of about four coffee pots”. Guests would be hard-pressed to guess how little energy is being used when looking at the dazzling castle!
So if you’re lucky enough to visit one of Disney’s parks during the holidays, keep in mind how much is going on behind the scenes to reduce the impact of the lit-up magical sights. While each individual can make a difference in helping the environment, companies that consume as much energy as the Walt Disney Company can have a huge effect every time they make such changes. The more corporations that follow this example, the better off our world will be.