ORLANDO, Fla. — Visited by millions of people every year, Walt Disney World is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
WIth that kind of traffic, its parks pull in billions of dollars in revenue every year, and a recent study has found that it would be an understatement to say that Disney has a big impact on the Florida economy.
What You Need To Know
- Disney World had a $40.3 billion economic impact on the state of Florida in 2022
- That figure comes from a new study from Oxford Economics, which said that Disney generated $6.6 billion in tax revenue, as well
- The study also found that Disney supported 263,000 direct and indirect jobs, about 1 out of every 32 jobs in the state
- RELATED: Disney to 'nearly double' its investment in parks business
The resort, nicknamed "the most magical place on Earth," generated an estimated $40.3 billion in economic activity last year, according to a new study released Tuesday.
The study, commissioned by Disney and conducted by independent economic advisory firm Oxford Economics, shows the impact the company and its network of businesses have in the state when it comes to jobs, tax revenue and more.
Disney World — which consists of four theme parks, two water parks, dozens of hotels and its own shopping and entertainment district — generated $6.6 billion in taxes in 2022, the report said. That included $3.1 billion in local and state taxes generated by Disney, visitors, employees and third-party business.
“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,” said Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, a division of Oxford Economics, in a news release.
The report also found that Disney supports 263,000 jobs in Florida — roughly 1 out of every 32 jobs in the state. That figure includes 82,000 people across the state who make up Disney’s workforce, as well as workers from the 2,500 Florida-based small businesses the company has contracted for services and supplies, such as bakeries that provide treats served in the parks.
More than 160 third-party businesses operate on Disney property, ranging from stores to restaurants. Many of them, like the Polite Pig, are located at Disney Springs.
James Petrakis, owner of the restaurant, said the partnership with Disney has been a boost to his business.
“From day one, the experience and the relationship that Disney has offered us is better than anything I've ever seen," Petrakis said in a statement. "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."
The study estimates that Florida's unemployment rate would climb from 3% to 5.4%, the second-highest in the nation, if Disney wasn’t factored in.
"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,” Disney World president Jeff Vahle said in a statement. “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."
For the study, researchers say they used multiple primary and secondary sources to create an “impact model” that factored in revenue, operational spending, business sales and employment to determine the “scope of Disney’s impacts.”
The numbers included in the study are for 2022, before the state took over Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District and turned it into the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District with a board appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Disney has previously called the move retaliatory and filed lawsuits over the takeover.
Spectrum News reached out to DeSantis' office for comment on the results of the Oxford Economics study, but has not received a response.
In May, Disney scrapped plans to build a new regional campus in Central Florida and relocate 2,000 jobs from California, a roughly $1 billion economic blow to the Sunshine State.
But Disney CEO Bob Iger has indicated the company is not done investing in Florida, saying previously that a further $17 billion will be spent in the state over the next decade.
Disney World has grown significantly since it opened in 1971, and in recent years, Disney has added new attractions and experiences at the parks, including Pandora — The World of Avatar, in Disney's Animal Kingdom; Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, in Disney's Hollywood Studios; Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, at EPCOT; and TRON Lightcycle Run, at Magic Kingdom.
Looking ahead, Disney has announced several projects that are planned for its Florida resort, including a revamp of Test Track at EPCOT and a "Zootopia"-inspired show at Animal Kingdom.
In an earnings call last week, Iger said the company is looking to “turbocharge” growth in its Experiences business, which includes theme parks, hotels, merchandise and the cruise line. division reported $8.16 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, a 13% increase compared to the prior year.
The company has announced that it plans to nearly doubling its parks spending to $60 billion over the next 10 years. The money would be used to “expanding and enhancing” its domestic and international parks as well as its cruise ships.