Championing Environmental Stewardship
Walt Disney World Resort is committed to minimizing its overall impact on the environment as it encourages and inspires environmentally responsible behavior on the part of its Cast Members, guests and business partners. Emphasis is placed on effectively managing resource use through energy and water conservation along with waste minimization, while also focusing on conserving the natural environment through science, education and leadership efforts.
Sustainable and Responsible Development
- Of the approximately 40 square miles at Walt Disney World Resort, nearly one-third of the property has been set aside as a dedicated wildlife conservation area.
- The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve is a lasting testament to the company’s commitment to responsible land development. Disney purchased 8,500 acres in Osceola County to allow for build-out of the resort and created a model partnership between government, non-profit and business. Working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida water management districts and groups like Audubon of Florida and the Nature Conservancy, the $45 million investment is a living laboratory for land restoration. The Preserve has now grown to 12,000 acres as other companies have followed the model to expand the original tract. A “green” welcome center is a centerpiece and is open to the public.
At Walt Disney World Resort, conservation and environmental sustainability are not only part of a long-term commitment to responsible stewardship but also are key business components evident in day-to-day operations.
As an EPA “Energy Star Partner,” Walt Disney World Resort has installed energy-saving fixtures and systems throughout the property.
- As a result of a 2011 WDW lighting retrofit program that included merchandise locations, attractions and distribution facilities, Walt Disney World Resort conserved enough energy to operate Big Thunder Mountain for more than three years.
- LED fixtures are used in nearly all of the signs, decorations and Christmas trees at Walt Disney World Resort.
- Even Cinderella Castle glows “green” during the holidays with more than 170,000 LED white lights to glisten the Castle, using the equivalent energy of only four coffee pots.
- Walt Disney World Resort is making the switch to establish temperature guidelines that save energy while still providing a comfortable environment in both guest and Cast Member areas
- Walt Disney World Resort’s theme parks have turned off or dimmed the external lighting during non-operational hours for icons such as Cinderella Castle, Tree of Life, Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat and Spaceship Earth.
- The “snow” at Blizzard Beach and the 199-foot façade at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are now covered with low-volatile organic compounds (VOCs) paint, which has reduced emissions from paint by more than two-thirds. Since Walt Disney World Resort began using the environmentally friendly paint three years ago, low-VOC paint has become more widely available among most large paint distributors in Florida.
- Walt Disney World Resort maintains the state’s Green Lodging designation for 24 resort hotels – representing the largest number of Green Lodging-certified hotels in the state. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort was among the first resorts in Florida to receive the designation when the program launched in 2004. To achieve this special designation, resorts must focus on five categories: water conservation, education and awareness, waste reduction, energy conservation and indoor air quality.
Mindful Waste Management
- Recycling is a big part of waste management at Walt Disney World Resort. More than 100,000 tons of materials were recycled in 2011.
- Walt Disney World Resort’s approach to water conservation begins with using less water where possible and maximizing use of reclaimed water. Approximately 30 percent of the resort’s overall needs and 80 percent of its irrigation needs are met with reclaimed water.
- The Walt Disney World Resort uses more than two billion gallons of reclaimed water a year for irrigation of landscape, washing buses and cleaning streets at theme parks and resorts. This amount of water could fill Spaceship Earth roughly 129 times.
- In 2010 Disney Parks and Resorts began using merchandise bags containing 100% post-consumer materials. Made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE), the bags release 60% less carbon dioxide during production. The combined reduction in emissions is equivalent to taking six cars off the road per year.
- Disney Harvest reduces food waste by gathering excess prepared food from Walt Disney World Resort kitchens and distributing it through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. More than 1,000 local children are fed weekly through this program. In 2011, Disney Harvest donated more than 340,000 pounds of food to the hungry in Central Florida
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom provides some unique forms of “waste.” In 2011, more than 4,500 tons of manure from Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Tri-Circle D Ranch was sent to the compost facility and produced more than 8,800 tons of compost throughout the year.
Caring for Wildlife and Animals
In addition to protecting wildlife habitats, the company is committed to animals in Florida and around the world.
- The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund supports programs committed to saving species and natural habitats while helping kids develop life-long conservation values through nature exploration. Programs supported by DWCF annual grants are selected for their strong basis in science, innovative education and approach that benefits local communities.
- In 2011, DWCF awarded nearly $2 million to nonprofit environmental groups and universities. The funds went toward 92 programs in 40 countries that focus on saving animals and habitats.
- Florida-based projects have received more than $3.5 million in DWCF grants since DWCF’s inception in 1995, including grants of more than $950,000 to University of Florida and $110,000 to University of Central Florida.
- The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund also supports key initiatives that help connect kids and nature, working in collaboration with Disney Friends for Change.
- Since 1995 the DWCF has:
- Contributed nearly $18 million more than 180 nonprofit organizations across more than half (57%) of the world — 112 different countries to be exact!
- Protected more than 1100 square miles (770,000 acres) for people and animals- roughly the size of 23 Walt Disney World Resorts.
- Engaged 784,393 individuals in direct conservation education/awareness, and discovered two new species — a butterfly and tree frog.
- Based on a successful program at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom launched “Adopt-a-Nest” which offers guests adoption packages enabling them to track sea turtle nests and possible hatchings on Disney.com/Conservation. In 2011, guests sponsored nearly 100 adoptions, raising more than $4,000 to help protect Florida’s sea turtles through the DWCF.
- The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot is a designated rehabilitation site for rescued manatees and sea turtles until they are well enough to be returned to their habitats The Seas participates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other zoological facilities and conservation groups in the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership. Since 1986, Disney’s animal care teams have nursed more than 300 endangered sea turtles back to health and returned them to their home in the sea.
- Disney’s Animal Programs teams at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends are devoted to the care of more than 1,500 mammals, birds and reptiles, and more than 5,000 fish, including a number of endangered and threatened species. Both facilities are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
- Disney Animal Programs helps fund and sends researchers to the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The GRACE Center provides endangered and orphaned gorillas with a place to grow and learn, experience the forest and develop the social and survival skills necessary to live in the wild.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom is involved in many AZA “Species Survival Plans” – cooperative breeding and management groups for critical species – and has successfully reproduced many endangered animals, including African elephants, black and white rhinos, okapi, gorillas and many rare birds. In fact, a rhino born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that was reintroduced to native habitat in Uganda in 2006 has since given birth to two offspring, helping to re-establish a white rhino population that has been extinct in Uganda since 1982 as a casualty of civil unrest in the region.
Connecting With the Community
Support for environmental projects and animal-related organizations are also a part of Walt Disney World Resort’s efforts – as members of the community and as volunteer citizens.
- For many years, Walt Disney World Resort has helped support the SPCA of Central Florida. Disney Cast Members have participated in an annual “Paws in the Park” walk around Lake Eola that collects more than $10,000 each year in pledges. Walt Disney World Resort also sponsors educational programs that SPCA shares with schools across the area.
- Walt Disney World Resort has assisted the Florida Audubon Society and its Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland by recently funding a flight cage at the center used to rehabilitate eagles and other raptors before release. Disney Cast Members also helped refurbish the center in 2010 with roof repairs, pressure cleaning, replacement of food boards, maintenance to the surrounding landscape and the re-wrapping of the very large perches in the enclosures.
- Disney Cast Members volunteer for coastal cleanups, wetland re-plantings and removing invasive exotic plants from critical habitats. Walt Disney World Resort lends its support to the Florida Coastal Cleanup (Ocean Conservancy), Oakland Nature Preserve and the Nature Conservancy and the City of Orlando Keep Orlando Beautiful and Green Up Orlando programs.
- The wonder of wildlife comes to Arnold Palmer Hospital and Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children several times a year when education presenters from Disney’s Animal Programs bring owls, bunnies and other small animals offering a welcome distraction for young patients.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cast Members also have a considerable volunteer presence at the Center for Great Apes located in Wauchula, Florida. The Center for Great Apes’ mission is to provide a permanent sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees retired from the entertainment industry or from research. The center provides care with dignity in a safe, healthy and enriching environment for great apes in need of lifetime care