Happy Earth Day (and Happy Anniversary to Disney’s Animal Kingdom)! Disney has been hard at work to harness the power of the sun to power parks globally. Disney has announced there is a new solar facility coming online at Castaway Cay! When completed, this new solar array will power 70% of Disney’s private island in The Bahamas. This new facility represents a larger effort by Disney to power its parks more responsibly. Globally, these solar facilities are enough to power 65,200 homes for one year, the equivalent of 8 Walt Disney World theme parks! Learn more about the work Disney is doing around the world below!
Here are all the details from Dr. Mark Penning, Vice Presiden, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks:
As we celebrate Earth Day, I wanted to share some of the amazing work being done around the world to power the magic by harnessing the sun! I am incredibly proud to share that we’re continuing to make tremendous steps towards reducing our carbon footprint at our global parks and resorts with new solar facilities coming online around the world.
While using solar energy may not be a new concept, we are pushing the boundaries in our unique Disney way, including solar panels atop our most famous attractions at Disneyland Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort and a solar farm in the shape of Mickey Mouse at Walt Disney World Resort. And coming soon are solar canopies at Disneyland Paris that will provide shelter for 9,500 guest vehicles, a facility that will power ~70% of Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island in The Bahamas, and two colossal solar facilities coming to Central Florida. To put all of this into perspective our Disney Parks, Experiences and Products solar portfolio around the world can produce enough energy to power eight Magic Kingdom Parks at Walt Disney World Resort.
Pretty cool, right? Through the innovative use of space, and with a touch of Disney magic, we are using the sun to conserve energy and power up in a responsible manner. Let’s take a tour around the world to see our solar arrays in action.
Powering ~70% of the island’s power, Disney Cruise Line will soon bring online 4,320 solar panels at Castaway Cay.
Walt Disney World has been basking in the glow of the Sunshine State and using solar energy for several years, and today, Walt Disney World and Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) are teaming up with local utility partners in Central Florida to develop two new 75MW solar facilities, which are expected to come online in approximately two years.
These new solar projects add to a not-so-hidden Mickey shaped solar array, built in collaboration with RCID and Duke Energy, sharing that authentic Disney flair across 22 acres of land, as well as the massive 270-acre, 57MW solar facility built in partnership with RCID and Origis Energy USA. When combined, Walt Disney World’s total solar facilities will produce enough renewable energy to power up to 40% of its total annual energy consumption.
Disneyland Paris is setting the standard for solar energy in Europe – working on one of the largest solar canopy plants in collaboration with Urbasolar. These solar canopies will provide practical and innovative use of 67,500 solar panels sitting atop an outdoor guest parking lot.
Hong Kong Disneyland is also setting an example locally, serving as home to the single largest solar panel site in Hong Kong. Across 20 attractions and buildings, the park has installed over 5,000 solar panels.
Soaking up the California sunshine, atop the Radiator Springs Racers attraction sits 1,400 solar panels that help power the magic at Disneyland Resort.
And solar power energizes Tokyo Disney Resort, generating enough power to fuel the iconic Dreamlights Parade with solar panels installed at eight backstage locations across the resort.
Since 2009, Disney has operated under a long-term vision to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re just getting started. Our new set of ambitions goals commit us to achieve net zero emissions for our direct operations by 2030.
To learn more about how we help protect and celebrate the magic of nature not just during Earth Month, but all year round, be sure to tune into my Instagram handle, @DrMarkatDisney. Together, we can take better care of the world we share.
RELATED ARTICLE: Top 11 Reasons Why I Love Animal Kingdom
by Cindy E. Nykamp
I’m strange. My favorite park is Animal Kingdom. It has been since my very first trip to Walt Disney World. This always comes as a bit of a shock to most people. They say they just don’t “get” Animal Kingdom. I often hear that most people consider Animal Kingdom to be the park they least want to visit. Some people don’t even bother to visit the park at all. I just don’t understand. While I love every Disney park, Animal Kingdom is so different and invokes such a unique feeling that it remains my favorite. Here are the top eleven reasons why I love Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
11 – The Anti-Theme Park
I think part of the problem of people not caring for Animal Kingdom is expectations. Animal Kingdom is just different. It’s not at all like a “normal” theme park, and that’s one of the reasons I love it. Some super fans of Disney often refer to Walt Disney World as a bubble. You enter, and you are in another world, free from our normal daily stresses. Animal Kingdom is a bubble within the bubble. It feels completely different than any of the other parks. It’s a retreat from the norm, and that can be very refreshing.
10 – They say it’s “Nahtazu,” but actually “Izazu,” — an Awesome One
Early Disney campaigns for Animal Kingdom wanted us to know that Animal Kingdom was, “Nahtazu!” (not a zoo). See this old clip: Early Animal Kingdom Ad. I’m not sure why Disney tried to distance themselves from being associated with zoos, because actually “Itzazu,” (it’s a zoo), and an awesome one! One of the reasons I love visiting Animal Kingdom is the animals. Animal Kingdom boasts more than 1,700 animals across 250 species. Warning: One visit to Animal Kingdom and all other zoos will pale in comparison. It’s just no fun to see elephants living on concrete pads. But to see a family herd of elephants enjoying roaming across acres of land, well, that I can enjoy.
9 – Lions, and Tigers, and Gorillas. Oh, My!
If you love animals, then Animal Kingdom is the place to be. The sheer size of Kilimanjaro Safaris is impressive. The Safaris, at roughly 110 acres, is almost the same size as the entire Magic Kingdom Park. That size allows guests a way to observe and interact with animals like never before. At the end of the Safaris, you’ll be treated to a Pride Rock type habitat with the lions. You may not see a lion every time, but when you do, it’s a real treat. Kilimanjaro Safari exits into Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail where you explore and interact with many, many more animals. Finally, Maharajah Jungle Trek specializes in animals found on the Asian continent, including many beautiful tigers. My favorite spot is visiting with the gorillas at the end of the trail. I could stay and watch the gorillas for hours (and I have).
8 – Learning Abounds
When you think of learning opportunities, many people jump to Epcot as the place to be. While Epcot is an obvious choice for physical science and cultural studies, Animal Kingdom is the place to be for all things biology and conservation. A field trip to Animal Kingdom is no joke. A great program to participate in is the Wilderness Explorers program. Children of all ages can become Wilderness Explorers by collecting over 30 badges by completing dozens of self-guided activities and missions. It’s a great way to include some learning in your day!
7 – It’s for the Birds
Bird lovers rejoice. Bird watching is first-rate at Animal Kingdom. Find birds at Up! A Great Bird Adventure, The Oasis Exhibits, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, Discovery Island Trails, and Maharajah Jungle Trek.
6 – Best Water Ride to Get Completely Soaked
Warning, you WILL get wet. While Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom is probably considered the best water ride at Disney World, Kali River Rapids has to win the ‘Most Soaked’ award. During the scorching Orlando summers, this ride provides wonderful relief by getting you completely drenched. I’ll never understand people who wear rain ponchos on water rides. Do you?
5 – Great Anti-Theme Park Food
Animal Kingdom was built in 1998, so it’s the youngest of the parks. I believe when it comes to dining, that youth shows excellently. The food is refreshingly different. Yak & Yeti boast delicious Asian-inspired meals, while Tusker House in Africa adds an intriguing African flare to its courses. Satu’li Canteen in Pandora – The World of Avatar has fresh food with amazing flavors and combinations. Don’t fret though. There are plenty of standard Disney fare such as burgers, chicken, and fries for your picky eaters. For the more adventurous, there are a wide variety of different food items that you won’t find at the other parks. This is a bonus.
4 – Experience Jurassic Park without Being Eaten
I’ll never forget the first time I rode Dinosaur in Dino Land U.S.A. Never. The story is immersing; the ride amazing and realistic. Did I mention realistic? I remember thinking, “Didn’t you people ever watch Jurassic Park? Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to hang out with dinosaurs?”
Tip: While the height requirements allow young children to ride, parents may wish to wait for their little ones to ride. This ride is very intense. Many spots are in complete darkness, and it is very, very loud. If you ever want your children to ride other rides, you may want to delay this one. You know your child best, but we waited until we knew our children could handle the dark, loud noise and a scary situation. We HIGHLY recommend riding this once alone before bringing the kids!
3 – Pandora: The World of Avatar
The largest expansion in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is based on Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron’s record-breaking box-office hit, Avatar, which was released in 2009. The land is an amazing spectacle of Disney Imagineering, creativity and story-telling. As you explore the vibrant terrain sprawling beneath mountains that appear to float in the sky, you’ll see waterfalls cascading down the mountainside into meandering streams and pools, and then you’ll discover two thrilling new expeditions: Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. There are so many amazing things to explore. Visiting Pandora an absolute must-do on your trip to Disney World.
2 – Best Entertainment on Disney Property
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, The Festival of the Lion King is temporarily suspended. It is set to return in summer 2021. Finding Nemo-The Musical is also suspended. Unfortunately, the cast of Finding Nemo are among the cast members who have been laid off. Disney retains the rights to call them back. We hope and expect at some point in the future when conditions permit they will be called back and the entertainment that is critical to making the parks magical will return. If you feel that the entertainment staff are a big part of making the magic happen, we encourage you to let Disney know how important the entertainers are to your experience.
The Festival of the Lion King is hands down the best Disney show, ever. This is not an opinion, this is a fact. 🙂 The stage production, dancing, and singing inspired a Broadway show, but this one is good enough to be on Broadway. There is something about that show that makes me cry almost every time we see it. ‘Amazing’ is just one word that sums it up. A close second, and also in Animal Kingdom, is Finding Nemo-The Musical. The puppetry alone is well worth a look. Animal Kingdom also has a spectacular nighttime show, Rivers of Light: We Are One, that is not to be missed! These three shows alone are reason enough to come to Animal Kingdom!
1 – TWO of the Best Thrill Rides at Walt Disney World
Animal Kingdom boasts two of the best thrill rides on the property: Expedition Everest and Avatar Flight of Passage! Expedition Everest was a welcome addition to Animal Kingdom in 2006. While the park had Dinosaur and the Kilimanjaro Safari’s, the park was still missing a major E-ticket ride; a roller coaster. Expedition Everest is Disney storytelling at its finest. It’s not just a ride, it’s a totally immersive experience. From the moment you step into the queue, you are swept into the story of trekking through Everest to find the mysterious Yeti. Does he exist? The attention to detail is amazing. You may not even mind waiting in line because there is so much to see. The roller coaster ride is the best at Walt Disney World. Best. I love Rockin’ Roller Coaster and Space Mountain, but they can’t touch the experience that is Expedition Everest. Twists, turns, drops and the Yeti himself make a fantastic ride. If you are a thrill-seeking, roller coaster lover, then this is the first line you get into.
Avatar Flight of Passage can be found in the land of Pandora – The World of Avatar. Fight of Passage launches each guest on an exhilarating, wind-in-your-face experience on a winged mountain banshee over the awe-inspiring world of Pandora. Guests will actually feel the banshee breathe beneath them as they soar through the forest and past floating mountains. This simulation type ride is thrilling, realistic and very intense. Guests sit on seats similar to a motorcycle that face an enormous projection screen similar to Soarin’. The projection is 3D so expect to wear 3D glasses. There are also numerous 4D effects and scents that add to the realism. Most guests will find it the most amazing simulator ride they’ve ever experienced. Guests are raving about this incredible attraction. This attraction alone is well worth a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
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