Environmental Fact Sheet

Filed in: Fact Sheets

Championing Environmental Stewardship

With a strong commitment to minimizing its overall impact on the environment, Walt Disney World Resort encourages and inspires environmentally responsible behavior from its Cast Members, guests and business partners. Through energy and water conservation, along with waste minimization, the company effectively manages resource use and helps preserve the natural environment through science, education and leadership.

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 represents the company’s lasting commitment to responsible land development. After purchasing 8,500 acres in Osceola County to allow for build-out of the resort in the 1990s, Disney created a model partnership between government, non-profits 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 centerpiece of this natural sanctuary, the “green” Conservation Learning Center is open to the public and promotes the preserve’s innovative conservation strategies.

Growing Green
At Walt Disney World Resort, conservation and environmental sustainability are not only part of a long-term commitment to responsible stewardship, but key components in day-to-day business operations.

  • Walt Disney World Resort received the 2013 Sustainable Florida Best Practice Award in the large business category for its “Make the Switch” electricity conservation program.
    • An EPA “Energy Star Partner,” Walt Disney World Resort has installed energy-saving fixtures and systems throughout the property.
    • A lighting retrofit program that included merchandise locations, attractions and distribution facilities throughout Walt Disney World Resort conserves the energy equivalent of operating Big Thunder Mountain for more than three years.
    • LED fixtures are used in nearly all of the holiday 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 that use the energy equivalent of just four coffee pots.
    • Walt Disney World Resort has established temperature guidelines that save energy, yet provide a comfortable environment in both guest and Cast Member areas.
    • Walt Disney World Resort 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 covered with low-volatile organic compounds (VOCs) paint, which reduces paint emissions by more than two-thirds. Since Walt Disney World Resort began using the environmentally friendly paint 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 – the largest number of Green Lodging-certified hotels in the state. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort was among Florida’s first resorts to receive the designation following the program’s launch in 2004. To achieve this special certification, resorts must meet standards in 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 125,000 tons of materials were recycled in 2013.
  • The approach to water conservation at Walt Disney World Resort begins with using less water whenever possible and maximizing the use of reclaimed water. About 30 percent of the resort’s overall needs and 80 percent of its irrigation requirements are met with reclaimed water.
    • Each year, Walt Disney World Resort uses more than two billion gallons of reclaimed water 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.
  • Walt Disney World Resort uses merchandise bags containing 100% post-consumer materials. Made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE), the bags release 60% less carbon dioxide during production.
  • 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 2013, Disney Harvest donated more than 624,000 pounds of food to the hungry in Central Florida.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom provides some unique forms of “waste.” In 2013, more than 4,200 tons of manure from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Tri-Circle-D Ranch was sent to the compost facility.

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 that help save 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 benefits to local communities.
    • In 2013, DWCF awarded nearly $4 million to nonprofit environmental groups and universities, supporting 163 programs in 50 countries that focus on saving animals and habitats.
    • Florida-based projects have received more than $5.5 million in 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.
    • Working in collaboration with Disney Friends for Change, the DWCF also supports key initiatives that help connect kids with nature.
    • Since 1995 the DWCF has:
      • Contributed nearly $24 million to more than 330 nonprofit organizations in 112 countries, accounting for more than half (57%) of the world!
      • Supported responses to more than 180 wildlife emergencies in 124 countries through the Rapid Response Fund.
      • Protected more than 2,845 square miles for people and animals, the equivalent of about 59 Walt Disney World Resorts.
      • Engaged more than 2 million individuals in direct conservation education/awareness.
      • Discovered two new species—a butterfly and tree frog.
    • The DWCF also has collaborated with Disneynature and nonprofit organizations to further protect wildlife and wild places, including:
      • Planted 3 million trees in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy through the “Buy a Ticket, Plant a Tree” campaign for Disneynature Earth.
      • Protected more than 40,000 acres of coral with The Nature Conservancy through the “See ‘Oceans’, Save Oceans” campaign for Disneynature Oceans.
      • Protected 65,000 acres of savanna with African Wildlife Foundation through the “See ‘African Cats’, Save the Savanna” campaign for Disneynature African Cats.
      • Protected nearly 130,000 acres of chimpanzee habitat, educated more than 60,000 children, and cared for orphaned chimpanzees with the Jane Goodall Institute through the “See ‘Chimpanzee’, Save Chimpanzees” campaign for Disneynature Chimpanzee.
  • 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 at www.disney.com/conservation. In 2013, guests sponsored 195 adoptions, raising more than $7,000 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, which live there until they are well enough to be returned to their habitats. The Seas participates with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as other zoological facilities and conservation groups, in the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership. Since 1986, Disney’s animal care teams have nursed more than 320 endangered sea turtles back to health and returned them to their home in the sea.
  • Animal Programs teams at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and The Seas with Nemo & Friends at Epcot 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. Among them are 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. This new rhino family is 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
Walt Disney World Resort also supports environmental projects and animal-related organizations, as a community member and through volunteer service.

  • In 2013, Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts and our Disney VoluntEARS sponsored the first Disney Kids and Family Zone at Orlando’s Paws in the Park Event. More than 1,500 guests experienced the interactive activities that focused on compassion and outdoor fun. The 2013 Along with the Disney FinancEARS team, Disney raised over $19,000 through the event, earning the Disney Dogs and Families Top Pack Honors for the third year in a row.
  • Each month, presenters from Disney’s Animal Programs bring the wonder of wildlife to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Nemours Children’s Hospital, and Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children. The owls, bunnies and other small animals educators bring offer a welcome distraction for young patients.
  • In recognition of the Disney VoluntEARS Program’s 30th Anniversary in 2013, Walt Disney World Resort celebrated offered events throughout the month of May, including a variety of environmental service opportunities.
  • Disney Cast Members volunteer for wetland re-plantings and removing invasive exotic plants from critical habitats. Walt Disney World Resort also lends its support to programs such as Florida Coastal Cleanup (Ocean Conservancy), Oakland Nature Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Lake Louisa’s NatureFest Event, the City of Orlando’s Keep Orlando Beautiful and Green Up Orlando.
  • Disney VoluntEARS began clearing the Brevard Coastline in 2003. In 2013, more than 150 Disney VoluntEARS partnered with Keep Brevard Beautiful and helped remove 250 pounds of debris.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cast Members also have a considerable volunteer presence at the Center for Great Apes, located in Wauchula, Fla. 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. The VoluntEAR Team of the Year selected The Center for Great Apes to receive their special grant donation of $2,500. And, in recognition of more than 600 hours in VoluntEAR work, Disney Cast Members selected the program to receive more than $18,000 in additional grant money through the Disney EARS to You program.
  • Each day at Walt Disney World Resorts, housekeepers collect used soaps and amenities, which are donated to Clean the World. The soaps and amenities are then recycled and donated to help people in need, both locally and around the world. In 2013, 59,815 pounds of soaps and 41,395 pounds of hotel amenities were recycled, diverting more than 51 tons from landfill.