Tuesday, January 23, 2018
My family and I took a belated holiday vacation this past week to Disney World. We’ve been before so knew what to expect: 1) our girls being over-the-top excited; 2) my husband and I being over-the-top excited about seeing our girls excited (and, yes, revisiting our childhoods a bit); 3) eating too many Disney French fries (they make really good fries there, seriously); 4) walking ungodly amounts of steps and, as a result, being exhausted every night and sleeping like the dead; 5) being amazed at the incredible customer service at Disney and starting to take it for granted by the end until being rudely awakened once we step back into the “real world.”
This is the second time we’ve gone with family friends who are true Disney aficionados. They prepare a spreadsheet (not kidding!) with our fast passes, restaurant reservations and park density facts (like how many people are expected to be at a park on a given day). Hence, we are maximizing our efficiency at all times – very rarely waiting in line, etc. As a result, we did a lot in a week. Trust me. I won’t list them all because that would be a bit too much, but suffice it to say that we had a four-park hopper pass and hit all of the major rides and activities at all four parks. While I love Magic Kingdom, a close second for me is Hollywood Studios because of the Star Wars stuff. The light show they do at the end of the night is so cool.
The other thing we got to do while at the happiest place on earth is take a lot of different modes of transportation. I always get a bit geeky about the monorail and think it’s going to be really cool – until we get on it and I remember that it smells kinda bad and moves painfully slowly. As we were cruising at slow speeds from our hotel to Epcot one day, we noticed a small array of solar panels. I joked with my husband that that small of a grouping probably only powered one floor of a hotel–and I was kind of confused as to why super-efficient Disney would have thought it would be cost-effective. Then, I quickly went back to vacation-mode and forgot about it…until we got back to our house this past Sunday and my husband found a picture of the solar array from the air. As it turns out, Walt Disney joined UTC member Duke Energy and Reedy Creek Improvement District to make this 22-acre solar farm happen.
Leave it to Disney to use new technology that, let’s face it, is not super interesting visually, and do so in a way that they marry it with their iconic brand. It made me think about how many opportunities we, as electric, gas, and water utilities, have to make our infrastructure visually more interesting or integrated with our communities while at the same time enhancing our brands. Having the staff at utilities use some of their creativity and innovative thinking around how to do this seems like an important use of their time – enhancing customer good-will and brand awareness would be key deliverables of these efforts.
The bottom line is, we can all learn a lesson from the solar panel mouse ears…utility infrastructure may be able to be used in new and interesting ways while continuing to provide essential services. Hi ho!