McDonald's Disney World Flagship restaurant

McDonald's Disney World Flagship restaurant

Ross Barney Architects

Disney World, 1596 W Buena Vista Dr, Kissimmee, FL 34747, USA | View Map
Project Year
Stories By
Ross Barney Architects

Kate Joyce / Ross Barney Architects
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
Floor and wall tileCrossville
Solid surfacingCORIAN® Design
Curtain wall, Door EntrancesKawneer
Acoustical ceilingsArmstrong Ceiling Solutions
Photovoltaic systemOnyx Solar

Product Spec Sheet
Floor and wall tile
Solid surfacing
Curtain wall, Door Entrances
by Kawneer
Acoustical ceilings
Photovoltaic system

McDonald’s Global Flagship at Walt Disney World® Resorts

Ross Barney Architects as Design Architect and Landscape Architect

The McDonald’s Disney Flagship aims to become the first Net Zero Energy quick service restaurant and in doing so represents McDonald’s commitment to building a better future. Incorporating visible and impactful symbols of change, the restaurant uses architecture and technology to firmly place itself in the future.


The McDonald’s Disney Flagship aims to become the first Net Zero Energy quick service restaurant and in doing so represents McDonald’s commitment to building a better future through “Scale for Good”. Incorporating visible and impactful symbols of change, the restaurant uses architecture and technology to firmly place itself in the future. Under a canopy clad in solar panels, the restaurant is a sustainable and healthy response to the Florida climate. Energy consumption is reduced by optimizing building and kitchen systems. On site generation strategies include: 18,727 square feet of photovoltaic panels, 4,809 square feet of glazing integrated photovoltaic panels (BiPV), and 25 off-the-grid parking lot lights produce more energy than the restaurant uses. Taking advantage of the humid subtropical climate, the building is naturally ventilated roughly 65% of the year. Jalousie windows, operated by outdoor humidity and temperature sensors, close automatically when air-conditioning is required. An outdoor “porch” features wood louvered walls and fans to create an extension of the indoor dining room.


A robust education strategy was a goal of the project. The architecture itself becomes a narrative tool in addition to interior wall graphics, interactive video content, and gaming unique to this location. The restaurant teaches visitors of all ages how to be more dedicated environmental stewards at a building, system, and individual scale. As an energy intensive building typology and arguably an enabler of automobile culture, the McDonald’s Disney Flagship explores its role as a sustainable steward; revolutionizing an industry to be more thoughtful, strategic, and impactful. Located within the Walt Disney World Resort, this iconic McDonald’s has made a statement to visitors for over 20 years. The original Happy Meal inspired 1998 design by Venturi Scott Brown utilized narrative storytelling that inspired the 2020 re-make. Instead of focusing on history, the new restaurant firmly places itself in the future.


McDonald’s believes that as one of the world’s largest restaurant companies, they have the responsibility and opportunity to take action on some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the world today. Operating 37,000 restaurants in over 100 countries around the world, serving 69 million people each day, every change makes a big difference. McDonald’s has committed to prevent 150 million metric tons of C02 equivalents (CO2e) from being released into the atmosphere by 2030, a reduction of 36% from a 2015 base year.


The design team took inspiration from McDonald’s “Scale for Good”. This initiative goes beyond the impact of buildings and utilizes the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to provide a holistic and ambitious impact at a global scale. From partnering with farmers on sourcing to improvements in packaging/recycling; to a commitment to provide healthier menu options and an acknowledgment that for many employees this is a stepping stone for personal development. As outlined in the Scale for Good strategy: “Everyday all around the globe, McDonald’s is putting people, processes and practices into place to make sustainable the new normal – for our business, society, and the world at large.” The McDonald’s Disney Flagship is a high visibility opportunity to showcase their ideas to fulfill this commitment through replicable strategies and scalable technology.

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McDonald's opens energy-neutral flagship restaurant in Disney World Florida with living walls

Sempergreen® as Manufacturers

McDonald’s -the world’s largest restaurant chain - recently opened its newest and highly sustainable flagship restaurant at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. With this pilot restaurant, located on the west side of Disney’s property on Buena Vista Drive near the All-Star Resorts, McDonald’s aims to be the world’s first net zero fast-food restaurant. The application of two outdoor green walls from Sempergreen completes the sustainable experience of this iconic project.

Green and sustainable design
Chicago-based Ross Barney Architects wanted the building’s sustainable approach to be clearly visible, and employed almost 185 sqm. of outdoor living walls by Sempergreen USA at the entry plaza. The steel framed building nestles into the lush landscape, which has been planted with all-native species. To mitigate runoff, the architect specified permeable paving for the entry plaza and outdoor dining area as well as two SemperGreenwalls. Next to reducing runoff, the living walls also clean the air, provide a cooling effect and stimulate biodiversity. 

Living wall plant selection tailored to local climate
The planting design for the outdoor green walls was established in consultation with Ross Barny Architects and Florida-based architectural and engineering firm CPH. The plant selection is tailored to the pleasant subtropical climate of the Sunshine State Florida. Among others, the Ruellia brittoniana 'Katie' with its purple flowers and the Tradescantia spathacea with its long green leaves and striking yellow longitudinal stripes were selected. The planting of the green walls provides natural cooling for the restaurant. The living walls are equipped with the unique and fully automatic Sempergreen Plant Care System. This web-based system ensures that the plants are supplied with exactly the right amount of water and nutrients. The green walls are monitored remotely, whereby the quantities can be adjusted if necessary. As a result the building manager is completely unburdened in terms of plant care.


McDonald’s targets zero energy certification 
McDonald’s is targeting zero energy certification for this pilot-restaurant through the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) over the next year. This certification is pursued in light of its Scale for Good sustainability program. The eye-catching V-shaped roof is covered with more than 1,000 solar panels and solar glass panels can be found throughout the building. Together these panels produce up to 600,000 kilowatts of electricity per year. Thanks to this design, sufficient energy will be generated to run the restaurant on 100% renewable power. At McDonald’s they knew environmental stewardship had to be the focus to build the image of McDonald’s as a progressive and modern brand.  

“These unprecedented times have only heightened the importance of innovation that fosters long-term security and sustainability,” says Marion Gross, McDonald’s North America chief supply chain officers. ”While health and safety in our restaurants is our top priority, we must also remain focused on creating positive change for our communities and the planet. This restaurant marks an important step in McDonald’s journey to reduce our carbon footprint and identify meaningful solutions in the fight against climate change.”


Learning hub for sustainable solutions for restaurants worldwide
The result of this project is a first of its kind restaurant that is also used as a learning hub to test solutions for reducing energy and water consumption of all restaurants worldwide. McDonald’s has set a global goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all of its restaurants and offices by 36% by 2030 in comparison to 2015. McDonald’s also wants to educate its customers about the importance of sustainable practices. The restaurant therefore features some extra fun stuff such as electricity-generating bikes that customers can ride to light up the golden arches above the store. The illuminated yellow M contrasts beautifully with the lush greenery of the living wall. Last but not least, there are games at tables, where visitors - both young and old-  can learn more about renewable energy. 

Project Credits
Design Architect and Landscape Architect
Architect and Engineer of Record
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