Disney Battle With Florida Reveals $40 Billion Economic Impact

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

It’s been a turbulent year for Hollywood, between the emergence of AI and what that means for creatives and the writers’ and actors’ strikes that shut down production for a full seven months. With so much going on, it would be easy to forget that Disney is simultaneously fighting another battle — one against Florida and its governor, Ron DeSantis. According to NBC, the war between the House of Mouse and the governor of the Sunshine State that’s been going on since April 2022 has been a costly one with a potential $40 billion economic impact.

Disney Boosts Florida’s Economy By The Billions

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Disney has released a comprehensive study touting its staggering $40.3 billion economic impact on Florida. The entertainment giant’s economic prowess in the Sunshine State is being fervently highlighted as the battle rages on over the contentious takeover of the Reedy Creek district, now rebranded as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The study, conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by Disney, delves into the fiscal year 2022, showcasing the company’s influence through direct employment, spending, and indirect factors like supply chain and employee expenditures. According to the findings, Disney’s footprint in Florida extends far beyond its 82,000 in-house employees, creating a ripple effect that supports an additional 181,000 jobs, summing up to a staggering 263,000 jobs linked to the entertainment behemoth.

Disney World Emlpoys 1 In 8 Workers In The Region


Central Florida, home to Disney World, bears the most significant impact, with the company directly contributing to 1 in 8 jobs in the region. The study notes that for every direct job at Disney, an additional 1.7 jobs are supported across the entirety of Florida, underscoring the vast economic ecosystem the company has fostered in the state.

DeSantis Vs Disney

Ronald DeSantis

The study is specific in its timeframe, looking only at the period before DeSantis took over the Reedy Creek district on Disney property. The shift in control occurred after Disney publicly dissented a state law restricting classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary grades. As Governor DeSantis was championing the law as part of his campaign for 2024 GOP, Disney’s opposition to the Florida governor triggered a battle between corporation and state that has lasted for over a year.

The legal battle revolves around the takeover of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a district established in 1967 to manage municipal services for Disney World in Florida. It was renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District after DeSantis appointees assumed control earlier this year.

Disney’s Impact Over The Next Decade

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Despite the ongoing legal tussle, Disney has expressed its commitment to invest an additional $17 billion in central Florida over the next decade, potentially creating an additional 13,000 jobs. This, however, contrasts with the company’s recent decision to abandon plans to relocate 2,000 employees from Southern California to Florida, a move estimated to be worth $1 billion.

Is There An End In Sight?

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In a recent earnings report, Disney acknowledged an increase in operating income for its global theme parks, but a decrease in the Florida theme park resort. The dip was attributed to costs related to the closure of its immersive Star Wars-themed two-night experience and reduced visitor spending due to lower hotel rates.

As the legal wrangling unfolds, the future relationship between Disney and Florida’s political landscape remains uncertain, with the economic powerhouse of the entertainment industry caught in the crossfire of a high-stakes legal and ideological battle.