the walt disney statue in disney world

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How will Disney’s closing facility impact Florida’s economy?

Recently, CNN reported Walt Disney Co ended plans to construct a $1 billion facility. The facility would have been the local epicenter for parks and resorts. Will this impact Florida’s economy going forward? 

Disney cited “changing business conditions.” Building the facility would have moved 2,000 jobs from California to Florida. As a Disney spokesperson confirmed:

We will no longer be asking our employees to relocate. For those who have already moved, we will talk to you individually about your situation, including the possibility of moving you back

 They planned to cut 7,000 jobs this year. Eventually, they will close the Star Wars: Galactic Star Cruiser Resort in September. They plan on rescheduling bookings made for the resort. 

DeSantis and Disney 

The abrupt ending of the proposed plan occurs as Disney and U.S. Governor Ron DeSantis are embroiled in a fight about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

 This bill restricts how schools teach “sexual orientation or gender identity” to middle and high school-age youth. 

DeSantis wanted to oversee rules for Disney’s special tax district on Disney World. So, he set out to organize a board to do that. Florida created the special tax district in the late 1960s, giving Disney its famous resort.

 Disney decided to limit any agency that a DeSantis-approved board had. Disney CEO Bob Iger, stated, at a formal meeting with shareholders, he views DeSantis’ actions as anti-business. 

Last month, Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis after the DeSantis-approved board decided to regain control of the special tax district. 

DeSantis’ communications director Taryn Fenske, spoke on DeSantis’ behalf :

We are unaware of any legal right that a company has to operate its own government or maintain special privileges not held by other businesses in the state

Additionally, she said Disney wants to “undermine the will of the Florida voters” and not follow the law. DeSantis believed it was politically motivated. 

Will This Impact Florida’s Economy?

It is uncertain how Florida’s economy will be affected. Business Insider reported that Disney contributes to the economy with its “four theme parks and two water parks.” 

Disney is the second-biggest employee behind Publix Super Markets Inc., a shopping food store chain. Additionally, they have more than 75,000 people working for them. 

According to, in 2019, 58.6 people visited the Disney Resort. Two years later, 36.2 million people went there. That is the equivalent of over 1/10th of the U.S. 

In 2022, they remitted and amassed over “$1.1 billion in state and local tax revenues.” They generated $55 billion, mostly from mass media. “Disney parks, experiences, and products” generated 33% of Disney’s finances. It totals around $28.7 billion in revenue. 

The leading expert on Walt Disney World’s history and politics, Richard Foglesong, said that Disney can not leave Central Florida since they made an overabundance of “brick and mortar investment” for their park and tourist lodge. Disney can reduce how much they invest in the theme park. 

70% of Disney’s visitors were return customers.

It places them in a position where they must invest. If they do not, they could lose visitors. Disney benefits the surrounding businesses near them. Not putting money back into their resort could hinder their business. 

According to Kelly Smallridge, the CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, it is uncommon to postpone projects of this magnitude. Interest rates have affected projects state-wide.

Orlando isn’t feeling the pain of losing jobs. It’s not as though the jobs were in place, and then there was a major layoff.

Kelly Smallridge

Not all have this point of perspective. 

James Glaser, a Florida resident, and his wife expect the postponement to impact South Florida greatly.  As Mr. Glaser adds:

It’s sad for the people in Florida looking for jobs

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