Using solar energy is certainly not a new concept, but as we celebrate Earth Day 2021, it’s a good time to remember that Disney harnesses the sun to power magic at its parks around the world, including its newest solar facility at Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island in The Bahamas.
The 5-acre facility currently under construction at Castaway Cay is the latest project in a larger effort by the brand to continue to power its global properties more responsibly. When complete, Castaway Cay’s 4,320 solar panels will generate approximately 70% of the island’s power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
“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,” said Dr. Mark Penning, vice president, Animals, Science and Environment, Disney Parks. “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 ambitious goals commits us to achieve net-zero emissions for our direct operations by 2030.”
Walt Disney World has been harnessing the sun’s power in the Sunshine State since 2016, thanks to the not-so-hidden Mickey-shaped solar array near Epcot. The revolutionary 270-acre, 57-megawatt solar facility that came online in 2019 generates enough renewable clean energy to operate two of Disney’s four theme parks in Central Florida annually while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50,000 tons per year.
Now, Walt Disney World and Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) are teaming up with local utility partners in Central Florida to develop two additional 75MW solar facilities, which are expected to come online in 2022 and 2023. When combined, the Walt Disney World Resort and RCID renewable energy portfolio consist of approximately 212MW of solar capacity, projected to bring Walt Disney World’s renewable energy consumption up to 40% of its total power use once online.
Through the innovative use of space (and a touch of Disney magic), guests may not even realize that 1,400 solar panels powering the magic at Disneyland Resort are soaking up the California sun atop the Radiator Springs Racers attraction at Disney California Adventure.
Power at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is provided by over 5,000 solar panels installed across 20 attractions and buildings — the single largest solar panel site in Hong Kong, reaching approximately 2.2 million kWh (the same amount of energy generated by 544 three-person Hong Kong households for one year). The iconic Dreamlights Parade at Tokyo Disney Resort is also powered by the sun from one full acre worth of solar panels installed at eight backstage locations across the resort.
The solar canopy plant currently underway at Disneyland Paris sets the standard for solar energy in Europe as one of the largest solar canopy plants in collaboration with Urbasolar. The project’s 67,500 solar panels will provide a practical and innovative use by providing shelter for 9,500 guest vehicles at an outdoor guest parking lot. This project will save space, provide shade, and protect guest vehicles from inclement weather while producing 31 gigawatt-hours of energy per year and providing enough renewable clean energy to power 17% of the resort. The plant will also have a special Disney touch: illuminating in the shape of Mickey Mouse that can be seen from the sky at night.
To put all of this into perspective, the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products global solar portfolio can produce enough energy to power 65,200 homes for one year — the equivalent of eight Magic Kingdom Parks at Walt Disney World Resort — and that’s good news for Disney fans and the planet.