As you’ve seen over the past few weeks, Earth Month is a special time here at Walt Disney World – made even more special this year as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park which has welcomed millions of guests over the years to enjoy the wonders of the natural world right here in Florida.
It’s with this in mind that we knew the celebration would not be complete without our Central Florida friends and neighbors. Building on our recently announced $500,000 donation to five conservation organizations in Florida, we brought some additional magic to some of the other people and places around us that help make a happier and healthier planet possible for all. Here are four ways we’re working together with organizations to help create a better future for Florida and beyond:
Inspiring the next generation of conservation heroes with Girl Scouts of Citrus
We teamed up with our friends and recent Disney Grant recipients, Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation (FWCF) and The Nature Conservancy to host local Girl Scouts for some hands-on learning experiences throughout the month. After attending an exclusive, advanced screening of “Home Waters” – a short film produced by the FWCF – the scouts spent some time with the three youth trekkers featured in the film, learning about their love for nature, passion for protecting the environment, and how to get involved and make a real difference.
“On behalf of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation, I would like to thank Disney for selecting the Corridor Curriculum as one of its conservation efforts to create a happier, healthier planet,” said Mallory Dimmitt, Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Foundation. “Funding the Corridor Curriculum helps educate Floridians and tourists on the rich and diverse ecosystems in Florida and the variety of unique species found within the Corridor, ultimately protecting Florida for future generations.”
On Earth Day, we welcomed the Girl Scouts to The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve for some onsite exploration and career conversations with local leaders and conservation experts. They learned all about the preserve, how to protect wildlife and even earned an awesome new badge for all they accomplished.
To top off the day at the preserve, Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry joined the fun to officially proclaim April 22, 2023, as Osceola County Earth Heroes Day.
Investing in schools, students and STEM education
Building on our longstanding legacy of supporting young storytellers in Florida through Disney Future Storytellers, we donated $20K worth of gardening supplies to Lake Silver Elementary in Orange County, helping the school bloom into a Green STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Academy while fully immersing students into the wonders of nature … one seed at a time. Mickey Mouse and Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment cast members were onsite to join in the celebration and share their expertise, time and talents with students.
Providing help and hope to families in need with Harvest Time International
As part of our continued efforts to fight homelessness and strengthen communities, we shared an $85,000 Disney Grant with Harvest Time International. This is an organization we work with throughout the year, donating items from across the resort like linen, furniture, strollers and clothing – some of which come from our runDisney races and runners. In fact, during the 2022-2023 race season, cast collected more than 13,000 pounds of clothing from runners that were then donated to several organizations, including Harvest Time International.
“I’m so proud of our cast members supporting runDisney and their efforts in promoting sustainability,” said Faron Kelly, Vice President of Sports at Walt Disney World Resort. “During race weekends and year-round, they’ve demonstrated an outstanding commitment to reduce waste, helping to recycle more than 30,000 pounds of bottles, cans, plastic, cardboard and clothing.”
Taking this commitment one step further, we just recently shared that groundbreaking on the previously announced affordable and attainable housing development in Central Florida is targeted for next year, with first units anticipated to be completed in 2026.
Keeping Central Florida beautiful through the Disney VoluntEARS program
Cast volunteers – also known as Disney VoluntEARS – spent more than 250 hours working alongside our community at conservation-based events across Central Florida throughout the month, joining forces to clean up neighborhoods, educate others on the importance of conservation and protect our surrounding environments and the wildlife that call it home.
In addition to these latest efforts, the Disney Conservation Fund expanded its legacy of conservation this month by awarding grants to 25 global nonprofit organizations for their work in collaborating with communities to save wildlife, inspire action and protect the planet. To date, the fund has provided $125 million to support the critical work of nearly 600 organizations around the world.
These efforts are all part of what we call Disney Planet Possible – tangible actions we’re taking as a company to inspire optimism for a brighter, more sustainable future. We invite you to join us as we work toward a great, big, beautiful tomorrow! Learn how you can get involved at DisneyPlanetPossible.com.