Disney’s substantial economic impact in Florida has been quantified at a staggering $40.3 billion, according to a recent study conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by Disney. This analysis, focusing on the fiscal year 2022, highlights Disney’s role as a major economic player in the state. The study reveals that Disney is responsible for 263,000 jobs in Florida, a figure that notably exceeds three times the actual workforce employed directly at Walt Disney World. This substantial employment includes not only Disney’s direct employees but also those jobs sustained by visitor spending in areas outside of Disney World.
Disney’s Wide-Reaching Employment Impact: 82,000 Workers Across Florida and a Domino Effect Supporting Additional Jobs Statewide
The workforce of 82,000 spans across various Disney ventures in Florida, including Disney World near Orlando, Disney Cruise Line operations in Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and a resort in Vero Beach. In central Florida alone, Disney is directly accountable for one in every eight jobs. The report further elaborates that for every job directly created by Disney, an additional 1.7 jobs are supported throughout the state, showcasing Disney’s extensive indirect influence on the local economy through supply chain dynamics and employee spending.
Legal Confrontations and Future Investments Amidst Political Challenges
The backdrop of this economic assessment is Disney’s ongoing legal and political tussle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his appointees. This conflict escalated following Disney’s opposition to a state law that prohibits classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades, a law actively supported by DeSantis, who is eyeing the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. The clash has led to significant changes in the governance of the district overseeing Disney World. Previously known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District and now renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, this entity has witnessed a shift in control from Disney allies to DeSantis appointees.
Disney’s legal countermeasures include suing DeSantis, a state agency, and the appointees on the district’s board in federal court, alleging violations of the company’s free speech rights. Amidst these challenges, Disney has expressed plans to invest an additional $17 billion over the next decade in central Florida, which could potentially create 13,000 new jobs.
However, the company has also shown a readiness to reconsider its investments in the state, as evidenced by the recent cancellation of a plan to relocate 2,000 employees from Southern California to Florida. Disney World, with its four theme parks, over 25 hotels, two water parks, and a shopping and dining district spread over 25,000 acres, remains a central element in Florida’s tourism industry. Yet, the ongoing legal battles and the uncertain political climate continue to shape Disney’s operational and investment strategies in the region.