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Disney World solar farm reflects theme parks' push for sustainability

Florida, Orlando, Epcot Center, View Including Sphere And Topiary.
The Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

Disney Orlando flipped the switch on Feb. 27 on a brand new 50-megawatt solar farm, which produces enough electricity to power 10,000 homes.

Why it matters: Amusement parks and resorts consume a great amount of energy during the day during peak hours. Installing renewable energy systems using renewables in a visible way not only reduces carbon emissions, but also displays a commitment to sustainability to park-goers. 

The details: Built in collaboration with Reedy Creek Improvement District and Origis Energy USA, the farm comprises 518,000 solar panels and sits on a 270-acre plot adjacent to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It will generate 50 megawatts of clean electricity to power two of the four Orlando resort properties annually, or 25% of the entire Disney property.

  • The project is expected to reduce greenhouse emissions by 57,000 tons, tantamount to removing 9,300 cars from the road

Background: Solar projects are not new to Disney. The park launched solar power projects as early as the 1980s.  In 2016, Disney installed a smaller 5-megawatt solar farm near the new installation in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head, which provides power for some of the attractions and features at Epcot Center.

What’s next: Disney has launched initiatives to reduce emissions in its organization to 50% of 2012 levels by 2020. Other environmental goals include diverting 60% of waste from landfills by 2020 and reducing water consumption.

  • Other theme parks are announcing plans to use renewables, including Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, which is aiming to open the first solar-powered theme park in 2020.  

Maggie Teliska is a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law, an intellectual property law firm, and CTO of Regent Power. She is also a member of GLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.