With the arrival of the Winter Solstice next week, our days will again start to stretch with sunshine. And while that means the promise of more Mickey bars, sunscreen and shorts for most of us, it also means a burst of solar power. All those rays add up faster than you’d think – especially when you’ve been collecting them for nearly 40 years.
We first installed solar panels back in 1978, making Disneyland Hotel’s Bonita Tower the first hotel building in the U.S. with a solar water heating system. The classic Universe of Energy was a natural fit for our second solar project in 1982, this time with 2,200 photovoltaic panels across two acres of rooftop.
We even took our bright ideas to the most sun-soaked Disney property – Castaway Cay. To this day, Disney Cruise Line uses solar power to heat water for our crew on the island. Just last month, we also announced in a Disney Parks Blog post our newest completed project: 1,400 panels helping to rev up the engines at Disney California Adventure’s Radiator Springs Racers that can generate enough power for 100 Anaheim homes each year.
But our biggest endeavor into the solar-powered game has even more character than the rest – to the tune of 48,000 panels in the shape of our very own Mickey Mouse. This five-megawatt solar farm, the result of a partnership with Duke Energy and Reedy Creek Improvement District, is hiding in plain sight near Epcot producing enough power equivalent to 1,000 residential rooftop systems.
As part of our unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship and conservation, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will continue to find new ways to savor the sun and preserve nature for generations to come. Lucky for us, sunshine isn’t as rare as pixie dust.