How much does Disney really matter to the state of Florida?
There’s a new study that breaks down Disney’s impact in Florida by the numbers.
Disney recently commissioned a study from Oxford Economics to analyze the company’s economic impact on the state of Florida in fiscal year 2022. Notably, Disney’s press release states that, as these results are from 2022, they reflect the impact prior to the Reedy Creek Improvement District becoming the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
About Reedy Creek, Disney said, “This district was a cost-effective mechanism throughout its history in ensuring the tax burden for these services [maintenance of Disney World property] did not fall on Orange and Osceola County residents. It allowed Disney to efficiently invest tens of billions of dollars in Florida over the past several decades by maintaining the highest development and service standards on Disney property.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis revoked Disney’s control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District and appointed a new Board of Supervisors. In February of this year, DeSantis stated that he would make sure “there are no special legal privileges and that [Disney is] abiding by the same laws. […] And then making sure they’re paying their fair share of taxes and paying the debt.” He created the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in the place of Reedy Creek.
Over the past year, lawsuits have been filed (both by Disney and against Disney) regarding the District. Now, Disney is demonstrating the company’s importance to the state of Florida with this new study.
According to a press release from Oxford Economics about this study, “Walt Disney World Resort is among the largest employers in Florida and an economic catalyst across the state. Its economic impact is massive as an international destination, driving benefits across the state economy through direct operations, supply chains, tax payments, and the spending of visitors across the hospitality, transportation, and retail sectors.”
Here are a few important statistics that Oxford Economics reported about Disney’s impact on Florida:
- In fiscal year 2022, Disney generated $40.3 billion in statewide economic activity.
- Disney generated $6.6 billion in taxes in 2022, including $3.1 billion in state and local taxes. Oxford Economics reports that “this is the equivalent of $379 per Florida household.”
- Disney provides over 263,000 Florida jobs. Oxford Economics put that impact into perspective by noting how the loss of these jobs would impact the state’s unemployment rate: “The unemployment rate in Florida was 3.0% in September 2023. Based on the current size of the state’s labor force, the unemployment rate would be 5.4% without Disney-supported jobs. This would take Florida from ranking 21st lowest among all states to having the second-highest unemployment rate in the country.”
- In Central Florida, about 12% of jobs are directly supported by Disney. That’s one in every eight jobs.
The study also noted the impact of Disney’s VoluntEARS program, where Cast Members donate time to nonprofit and service organizations. In 2022, Disney Cast Members donated over 233,000 volunteer hours.
Another impact that Disney has on Florida is through Disney World’s relationships with small businesses. In 2022, Disney contracted about 2,500 Florida-based small businesses to supply goods and services for the parks. Disney notes that these small businesses include “the local painters who help maintain Cinderella Castle to the family-run vendor who supplies some of the sweet treats served in the theme parks and more.” More than 160 additional third-party businesses operate in Disney World, including restaurants, stores, and hotels.
On a broader scale, The Walt Disney Company contracts with over 8,500 small businesses across the country.
Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics at Oxford Economics, stated, “Disney is an economic catalyst to the state of Florida generating billions in economic activity, either directly, or indirectly through its supply chain and the spending of employees. Disney is also vital to the funding of public services.”
Jeff Vahle, President of Walt Disney World Resort, said, “I am incredibly proud of how Disney has created meaningful change and benefitted people’s lives in Florida for generations, not just in establishing our area’s theme park industry, but also in how we have worked with other sectors across the state to do the same. The numbers speak for themselves on why Disney is so important to fueling jobs, the economy and tourism throughout our region, and the future investments we’re looking to make will continue to provide even more opportunities for Floridians.”
Disney collected more quotes from Florida leaders and those who are impacted by the company in the state:
- “Disney’s impact goes far beyond the gates of its theme parks and positively touches our lives in nearly every corner of our community. Disney not only pioneered Orlando’s theme park industry with its own investments over the last five decades, they also paved the way for others to invest in our city and help make it the tourism destination it is today. It’s been an honor working alongside Disney as they help continue to move Florida forward.” – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
- “My connection with Disney World runs deep having been a cast member myself in its opening years, and what remains true after all this time, is Disney’s immense and positive impact on its employees and our community at large. In serving this community as long as I have, I can confidently say that Disney’s contributions have resulted in the progress and prosperity of Florida and all who call it home.” – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings
- “Working with Disney has had a very positive impact on us. It’s opened up a lot of opportunities and now we have a need to grow and expand our operation.” – Neal Crosier, Owner of Popcorn Junkie
- “From day one, the experience and the relationship that Disney has offered us is better than anything I’ve ever seen. Our business has grown in the last three years by about 25 to 30%. We are pushing numbers that we never expected out of fast casual.” – James Petrakis, Owner of The Polite Pig at Disney Springs
- “Hope is the most precious gift you can give another human being, and that’s the gift that Disney has helped us give. We’ve been able to welcome in more than 190,000 wish families from 50 states and 77 countries around the world because of Disney’s support.” – Pamela Landwirth, President & CEO of Give Kids The World Village
- “Working with The Walt Disney Company is phenomenal. Disney understands the supplier’s needs to engage in a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship.” – Walter Pelaez, Chief Executive Officer of Sobel Westex
- “Working with extremely talented chefs to create proprietary blends for all the signature restaurants on the property has been the highlight of my career, and being honored to be chosen as Disney’s official specialty coffee provider was extremely rewarding. The trust and confidence Disney placed in us makes us very proud.” – Chris DeMezzo, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Owner of Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company
- “We always feel that you earn the next project by delivering on the one you’re on. That’s something that we’ve built into our culture and that you earn that business. So, whenever we get repeat opportunities, we see that Walt Disney World is willing to put their trust in us.” – James Delahanty, President of Intex Coating
Disney has even more plans to invest in the theme parks in Florida and across the world. A couple of months ago, Disney announced plans to invest about $60 billion in the parks and cruise line over the next 10 years. These plans to “accelerate and expand investment in its Experiences segment” will nearly double the company’s investment as compared to the previous 10 years.
Even before this “turbocharge” of investment in the parks, Disney World is already the most visited theme park destination in the world (according to the Themed Entertainment Association). Disney has expanded the Florida theme parks quite a bit recently, adding Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and building Pandora: The World of Avatar in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
New rides and experiences have come to all the parks, including the new TRON Lightcycle / Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind roller coasters in Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, respectively. The resort has four theme parks, more than 25 hotels, two water parks, and a shopping and dining district (Disney Springs) — in total, Disney World is almost twice the size of Manhattan!
Aside from the parks, Disney Cruise Line has been building as well, adding the new Disney Wish ship to its fleet and bringing in additional ports, such as in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The new Disney Treasure ship will soon join the fleet, bringing with it exciting experiences like the Haunted Mansion bar and Jungle Cruise lounge.
Stay tuned to DFB for more updates from Disney.
What do you think of this new study? Let us know in the comments.
The post How Much Does Florida REALLY Depend on Disney? A NEW Study Reveals Surprising Numbers. first appeared on the disney food blog.