Disney World’s Nuclear Power Options

Just a couple of weeks ago Disney celebrated the opening of a new 270 acre solar power facility on Walt Disney World property. It’s a fantastic development, but what if Disney wanted to do more? What if they wanted go all out? What if they went with the nuclear option? Special thanks to subscriber Allison for the topic suggestion!

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Orlando Sentinel
“Old Florida law says Disney can build a nuclear power plant. Legislators could change that.” (Feb 14 2019)

Disney Parks Blog
“Major New 270-Acre Solar Facility Now Online, Providing Clean Energy to Walt Disney World Resort” (Feb 20 2019)

United States Energy Information Administration
“How much electricity does a nuclear power plant generate?”

United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission
“Governing Legislation”

Excelon Generation
“Ginna Nuclear Power Plant Fact Sheet”

Reedy Creek Improvement District Annual Utilities Report – 2017

When Walt Disney was still alive and working on his Florida Project, Disney World was meant to be more than a resort. While there were plans for an east coast Disneyland, The Magic Kingdom, the real star of the show was going to be EPCOT. I have video that talks about EPCOT more in depth, but the short of it is that EPCOT was going to be an actual city of the future that utilized cutting edge design and technology. Walt wanted it to stand as an example of what cities across the country and around the world could eventually achieve with the right planning. However to do that, Disney felt that they needed to be freed up from the restrictions of government regulation.

So in 1967 Disney worked with the state of Florida to create the #ReedyCreekImprovementDistrict which, on a local level, allowed Disney to effective govern themselves when it came to building and running Disney World. Within the legislation that created Reedy Creek was section nine: powers of the district. Under Public Utilities it granted Reedy Creek the power to own, acquire, construct and operate everything from electric power plants to gas lines to telephone lines and “plants and facilities for the generation and transmission of power through nuclear fission and other new and experimental sources of power and energy.”

So with the text of the legislation pretty clear, why did I say that it was mostly true? Well the Reedy Creek Improvement District was formed in 1967, however seven years after that Congress passed the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 which, in turn, created the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This newly formed agency was given the federal power of overseeing multiple aspects of nuclear energy, including the approving and distribution of nuclear reactor licenses. As it turns out, nuclear reactors are pretty important parts of nuclear power plants.

So while Disney still maintained the power to build and operate a nuclear power facility, at the same time they kind of didn’t. It’s not as if Disney could just decide one day that they wanted to get into nuclear power and then just do it. It would still require the lengthy and difficult and most importantly, expensive process of getting the federal approvals needed to make it actually happen. The powers granted to Reedy Creek from the 1960’s might make it easier to get through some of the parts of the process needed to build a plant, but ultimately it’s not a complete freedom.

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