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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Disney Generates $40 Billion In Annual Economic Impact In Florida And Over A Quarter Million Jobs

Walt Disney World Resort, one of the world's most visited vacation destinations, generated $40 billion in economic impact across the state and provided more than a quarter of a million total jobs in fiscal year 2022, according to a new study from Oxford Economics.

The study found that Disney, which has fueled Florida's economy, tourism, and small businesses for more than half a century, generated the following across the year. I Photo: PR Newswire

The study found that Disney, which has fueled Florida's economy, tourism, and small businesses for more than half a century, generated the following across the year:

  • $40.3 billion in total statewide economic impact.

  • 263,000 direct and indirect jobs – 1 out of every 32 jobs in the state.

    • This figure includes Disney's workforce of 82,000 across the state. Within Central Florida, Disney directly supports 12%, or 1 in 8, of all jobs. For every direct job on-site at Disney, an additional 1.7 jobs are supported across Florida.

    • Without Disney's statewide job impact, Florida's unemployment would jump from 3% to 5.4%, taking Florida from the 21st lowest unemployment rate among all 50 states to the second-highest unemployment rate in the country.

    • Disney revenues and off-site visitor spending contributed to $12.1 billion in total labor income in fiscal year 2022.

  • $6.6 billion in tax revenue, including $3.1 billion in annual state and local tax revenue generated by Disney, visitors, employees, and third-party businesses – helping to fund local schools, law enforcement, public safety, parks, roadways, and more throughout Central Florida.

  • 2,500 Florida-based small businesses contracted to supply products and services to Disney World.

    • Part of the more than 8,500 small businesses across the country contracted by The Walt Disney Company.

The study, commissioned by Disney, also reflects the economic impact of Disney Signature Experiences in Florida, including Disney Vacation Club and Disney Cruise Line. The results are for fiscal year 2022, prior to the Reedy Creek Improvement District becoming the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District with the appointment of a new board.

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This announcement comes as the attraction industry convenes in Orlando this week for IAAPA Expo 2023, the premier global event that brings together industry professionals to shape the future of guest experiences. This week also marks the 58th anniversary since the now-famous press conference in Orlando where Walt and Roy Disney announced their "Florida Project" alongside then-Florida Governor Haydon Burns.

"Disney is an economic catalyst for the state of Florida, generating billions in economic activity, either directly or indirectly through its supply chain and the spending of employees," said Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics, a division of Oxford Economics. "Disney is also vital to the funding of public services, as it generated taxes of $6.6 billion in 2022, including state and local taxes of $3.1 billion."

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"I am incredibly proud of how Disney has created meaningful change and benefited 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," said Jeff Vahle, President, Walt Disney World Resort.

"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."

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Disney Creates Jobs in Florida

Disney's operations power a massive small business ecosystem in the state. The company works with 2,500 small businesses here in Florida and thousands more across the country who employ workers and provide a wide range of goods and services – from 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.

Over 160 third-party businesses also operate on Disney's property, from restaurateurs to hoteliers, retailers, and more, providing opportunities for even more local Florida-based businesses to serve the millions of guests who visit Walt Disney World each year.

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Disney Is One of the Largest Taxpayers in the Region

In fiscal year 2022, Disney paid and collected a combined $1.1 billion in state and local taxes to Orange and Osceola Counties and the state of Florida, as well as to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The Florida State Legislature established this special district, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, in 1967 to help provide services, including power, water, roads, and fire protection for the 47-square miles of Walt Disney World Resort.

This district was a cost-effective mechanism throughout its history in ensuring the tax burden for these services 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.

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Decade of Unprecedented Growth for Disney in Florida

No other theme park destination spans the size and scale of Walt Disney World, which is nearly twice the size of the island of Manhattan with four theme parks, over 25 Resort hotels, two water parks, a world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment district, and more. According to the Themed Entertainment Association, Walt Disney World is the most visited theme park destination in the world.

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The significant growth of Disney's economic impact in the state comes after an unprecedented period of growth and expansion across Walt Disney World over the last decade, including:

  • New theme park lands themed to Disney's incomparable library of intellectual property, including franchises such as Star Wars, Toy Story, and AVATAR.

  • More attractions and experiences based on world-beloved characters and stories like Mickey Mouse, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ratatouille, and Beauty and the Beast.

  • The growth of Disney's onsite transportation network with the innovative Disney Skyliner gondola system.

  • New resort hotels, including more Disney Vacation Club properties and value options for families like Disney's Art of Animation Resort.

  • Nearly doubling the size of the Disney Springs shopping and dining district to include dozens of additional tenants and small businesses.

Since its launch in 1998, Disney Cruise Line has called Florida home and contributed to the state's economic growth and job creation with a year-round homeport in Port Canaveral.

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With a current fleet of five ships and three more planned, Disney Cruise Line is currently in the midst of the largest expansion in the cruise line's history. As part of its expansion plans, Disney Cruise Line recently celebrated the opening of its second dedicated cruise terminal and year-round homeport in Florida at Port Everglades in Broward County.

Disney Gives Back to Florida Nonprofits

In addition, Disney has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to local nonprofits throughout its history and last month announced another round of donations totaling $1.5 million going to 19 organizations making a difference in the arts, education, hunger relief, and other philanthropic efforts.

In fiscal year 2022, Disney cast members also donated more than 233,000 volunteer hours in Florida.

Disney Turbocharges Investment in Parks

The Walt Disney Company recently announced plans to accelerate and expand investment in its Experiences segment, nearly doubling capital expenditures over approximately 10 years to around $60 billion. This investment will focus on expanding and enhancing domestic and international parks and cruise line capacity.

If history is any indication, when Disney invests in Florida, its residents and businesses benefit.

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