For Earth Day of 2021, The Walt Disney Company announced plans to construct two separate solar plants within Walt Disney World. The two plants should be able to output 150 megawatts of power, which when combined with the already existing plants, will amount to 40% of the resort’s total power usage. There’s just one problem with this announcement on Earth Day: in order to build this level of solar capture, Disney will likely be destroying many hundreds of acres of forests and wildlife habitats.
Already Disney has chopped down enough forests that you could fit the entire area of Magic Kingdom in the cleared fields of solar panels twice over. Situated between two massive preservation areas, Walt Disney World has a unique position as being a significant connecting point between the Lake Marion Creek Wildlife Management Area and the Hilochee Wildlife Area. However, the clear-cutting of huge forest areas along the Daniel Webster Western Tollway by Disney for solar panels has already limited the wildlife corridor between Florida’s huge wilderness sanctuaries.
While Disney touts solar panels and their reduction of carbon emissions, it should be noted that the creation of solar panels – usually in China – is an extremely pollutive process. And while I’m not against solar panels or solar energy, I am very much against turning green spaces into fields of desert silicon.
Others feel the same and are making their voices heard. In response to Disney’s announcement, some Disney fans are begging the company to stop destroying forests, and instead put these solar panels over the parking lots Disney has already in place. With parking areas nearly deserted of plant and wildlife already, the solar panels would not impact Florida’s environment, while additionally having the benefit of creating shade for parks cars in the sweltering Orlando sun. Legoland already has this concept partially in place, so it’s certainly doable, although at a likely higher cost than Disney destroying massive numbers of trees, selling their lumber for profit, and then installing the units close to the ground.
“Maybe they’ll put these new solar installations above the surface parking lots rather than clearing more green space. Solar is great, but let’s be smarter about where we put it! Literally hundreds of acres of cleared land across the resort basically ready to go, with the added benefit of keeping everyone’s cars cooler.” — HpyHnt1000 from WDWMagic Forums
The impact on the environment is so severe, that I’m taking the unusual step of also advocating in an article for Disney to act in a specific way. Given that solar plants of this size are likely to require many hundreds of acres of cleared space, I also join in asking Disney on this Earth Day to please not destroy the forests and habitats of The Walt Disney World Resort. Please respect your position as a bridge between two major wildlife sanctuaries, and the importance of Reedy Creek for that reason. If Disney builds the solar panels over the Magic Kingdom and Epcot parking lots, that would give them somewhere in the realm of 200 acres of panels. That’s a far, far improved situation than the alternatives Disney is likely planning on.
If we’re all truly on the side of the environment, let’s protect it rather than clear-cutting it. There are excellent places to put solar panels at Disney World, and there are places that destroy wildlife. Given that trees are our best tools at carbon capture, it’s a shame to destroy hundreds of acres of them. We’ll be watching to see where Disney decides, and whether they’re deserving of accolades or scorn. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.