Walter Elias Disney, aka Walt Disney, visionary artist, dream-maker, predicted it: “Conservation is not just the business of a few people, it is a matter for all of us. But if we use our riches wisely, if we protect our wildlife, they will last for generations to come”.

True to its creator’s thinking, the Walt Disney Company has, since 2018, been generating enough renewable solar energy to fully power two of its four parks at the Walt Disney World Resort in central Florida. “At our locations around the world, we are investing in hidden magic to continually reduce our environmental impact” Bob Chapek, president of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products, told the NY Times.

In late 2018, Walt Disney World Resort embarked on a new initiative, in partnership with the Reedy Creek Improvement District and solar project developer Origis Energy USA, to bring online a new 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar array capable of generating enough clean renewable energy for two of its four theme parks in Central Florida, near Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The energy won’t actually go into Disney’s theme parks, but rather into the local power grid. Disney’s solar and renewable efforts are not limited to Florida. In Tokyo, Disneyland’s electric parade light show is powered by solar panels from eight building rooftops, generating more than 600 kilowatts of power. In Europe, Disneyland Paris uses geothermal energy to power two of its theme parks and a hotel.

This milestone is just one part of Disney’s ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship… At the Disney Resort in Shanghai, a combined cooling and heating system reduces emissions by 60 per cent, in part by converting waste heat into energy. Disney is also building three new cruise ships that will be powered by clean-burning liquefied natural gas when they sail at sea in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

The Walt Disney Company has undertaken numerous efforts to meet its 2020 goal of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent from 2012; the solar facility is just one (a big one) of those efforts. The facility is newly operational, and is capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 57,000 tonnes per year – which is the annual equivalent of removing 9,300 cars from the roads – with half a million solar panels. The company says it has already reduced its overall emissions by 41% in 2017, making the target of 50% by 2020 very easily achievable.

In addition, Disney’s cast members for this new project include representatives from Disney’s Animals, Science, and Environment and Horticulture groups, who are collaborating in a transdisciplinary way, pooling their unique skills and expertise, to explore ways they can make the new solar facility pollination friendly by planting wildflowers and vegetation, creating a safe and welcoming habitat for butterflies, bees and other insects. This important work aligns perfectly with the Disney Conservation Fund’s ‘Reverse the Decline’ initiative, which aims to reverse the decline of 10 threatened species, including butterflies.

“Wilderness and wild places have always been a source of inspiration for Disney, and we are proud to bring that same inspiration to children and families,” said Beth Stevens, senior vice president of Environment and Conservation, Corporate Citizenship, The Walt Disney Company. “We believe that conservation and caring for the planet are more than just ideas – they are fundamental to who we are as a company. With the new Disney Conservation Fund initiative, it is our hope that our actions will help protect some of nature’s most precious habitats and ensure the health of our planet for future generations.

In the first part of the initiative, “Reverse the Decline,” Disney is supporting a network of leading conservation nonprofits to develop strategic plans to reverse the decline of 10 animals: elephants, butterflies, coral reefs, tamarin monkeys, great anthropoid apes, sea turtles, sharks and rays, cranes, rhinos and tigers. These organisations employ experts who work with each species to address habitat protection, collect critical population data and develop conservation and community education programmes in critical ecosystems around the world. In addition, this initiative gives Disney the opportunity to apply the skills and talents of its scientists, educators and veterinarians to Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team to help reverse the decline of these animals.

The second part of the two-pronged effort, ‘Increasing Time’, focuses on increasing the amount of time children spend in nature, with Disney’s grants to non-profit organisations engaging young people in discovering the magic of nature and protecting the planet.