Disney Parks

Celebrating Earth Day! Highlighting Ongoing Conservation Efforts at Walt Disney World

Ever really stop and think about all of the things we do on a daily basis that may be hurting our planet? I’m sure if we took the time, we can collectively come up with a list longer than we care to admit. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

On this Earth Day, April 22, 2019, let’s pledge to change those bad habits and turn them into good ones in an effort to make this world a better place for generations to come. Let’s teach our youth to care about our planet and offer ways to reduce and reuse, instead of wasting. We waste so much without even realizing (or maybe we do and think it doesn’t matter). Every little thing we do matters! I wholeheartedly admit, I need to take some of my own advice and do better in some of these areas!

Get involved! Disney created the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF), which was established on Earth Day in 1995; their mission has not wavered help protect wildlife and wild places around the world. Next time you are in the parks, ask for more information about this conservation program. Your interest and support of the DCF helps to grow awareness through the Disney community and beyond. It inspires others in the US and around the world to take part and help to better the environment. According to the Walt Disney Company, since 1995 the DCF has inspired millions of people to take action to protect the planet and directed more than $70 million to reverse the decline of wildlife in more than half the countries in the world through efforts that engage communities in conservation.

Here is a small sampling of the amazing programs and initiatives they are involved with to help to protect our planet:

  • In collaboration with Fauna & Flora International’s community-based forest management program in Indonesia, Disney support helped strengthen the livelihoods of 52 communities while aiding in the protection of more than 200,000 acres of critical habitat to support endangered species including Sumatran tigers.
  • Disney supported Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s implementation of eight water restoration projects across California and Arizona to improve water use efficiency on agricultural land, reduce the amount of water diverted from rivers and creeks, and improve water quality, recreation and wildlife habitats.
  • In celebration of Disneynature films, The Walt Disney Studios and the Disney Conservation Fund have collaborated to support animals and habitats around the world, resulting in:
    • 3 Million trees planted in Brazil’s most endangered forest.
    • 40,000 Acres of a new marine protected area established to conserve coral reefs in The Bahamas.
    • 65,000 Acres of savanna protected to create conservation corridors in Kenya.
    • 130,000 Acres of wild chimpanzee habitat protected in the Congo, and 60,000+ local youths educated, and chimpanzees cared for.
    • 495,000 Acres of forest protected to restore key corridors for wild pandas and establish a new snow leopard conservation program in China.
    • Conservation projects across 400,000 acres of US national parks supported, park visitors educated, and animal and plant species protected.
    • Conservation projects supported across one million acres in Indonesia, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, benefiting hundreds of species and protecting fresh drinking water for local populations.

Disney also announced last summer that Guests would start to see new initiatives taking effect immediately within the parks and resorts. These efforts include refillable amenities in resort rooms such as shampoo, conditioner, cream, etc., the reduction of plastic shopping bags as well as the replacement of plastic straws with paper straws used at the resorts and restaurants by 2019. Many of these have gone into effect and continue to roll out across Disney Parks. Paper straws have always been used in Animal Kingdom out of care and concern for the wildlife. I will admit, they are difficult to use, and break down very quickly. But I also understand the need and the long-term benefits.

But there’s more! You may have recently read that Disney unveiled a brand new 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar facility. How awesome! Built in collaboration with the Reedy Creek Improvement District and solar developer Origis Energy USA, this facility is expected to generate enough renewable clean energy to operate TWO of Disney’s four theme parks in Central Florida annually! Incredible! That is Disney magic at it’s very best and a testament to their commitment to the environment.

This new solar facility will also help provide a habitat for local wildlife in Central Florida. Nearly two-thirds of the facility will also be pollinator friendly, with the goal of creating a nurturing and welcoming habitat for butterflies, bees and other insects, including endangered and at-risk species.

Here’s an awesome behind-the-scenes look!

Disney continues to inspire and encourage all of us to do our part. Whether it be to get involved at a local level in your community or simply create better habits at home, what we do today, betters our tomorrow.

In honor of Earth Day, I leave you with this from Joe Rhode:

“When we, Imagineers, started the development of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we knew that we were entering a new territory of storytelling. These stories were not fantasies, but real. They were not classic tales, but ongoing epics whose conclusions are still unknown. They were not ours alone, but shared with people all around the world, who lived with and cared about the lives of wild creatures. We could not tell such stories unless we ourselves participated in the reality we were describing, contributed to the epic struggle, and shared our skill and our commitment with people around the world. Thus, we concluded that an entity like the Disney Conservation Fund was essential to our story. Without it, our own words and actions would be empty.

The story of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Disney Conservation Fund is not just a story that we tell. It’s a story we are living every day, every one of us. All of us on Earth share this planet with every living creature and with the systems that sustain them. For two decades now, through the actions of the Disney Conservation Fund, we’ve worked towards our dream: a dream of a future for our children in which there is still magic in the forest, the magic that comes from the countless miraculous creatures, some yet undiscovered, that share with us a tiny delicate place amidst a sea of distant stars.” — Joe Rohde, Creative Executive, Disney Imagineering

For more information on the Disney Conservation Fund, click here.

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