Disney recently released a study conducted by Oxford Economics, which reveals that the company's economic impact in Florida amounts to $40.3 billion. This study comes as Disney finds itself in a confrontation with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his appointees over the control of the district governing Disney World. The study indicates that Disney is responsible for 263,000 jobs in Florida, which is more than three times the actual workforce at Walt Disney World. These jobs include both direct employment by Disney and jobs supported by visitor spending outside of the resort.
In Central Florida specifically, Disney directly accounts for 1 in 8 jobs, with every direct job at Disney World supporting an additional 1.7 jobs across the state. However, it is worth noting that this study covers the period before DeSantis and his appointees took over the district. This takeover occurred after Disney publicly opposed a state law banning classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades.
Despite this ongoing dispute, Disney has expressed plans to invest $17 billion over the next decade in central Florida, potentially creating an additional 13,000 jobs. However, the company recently canceled plans to relocate 2,000 employees from Southern California to Florida, which would have represented a significant investment.
Currently, Disney World encompasses four theme parks, over 25 hotels, two water parks, and a shopping and dining district on a vast property just outside Orlando. The company is engaged in legal battles with DeSantis and his appointees in both federal and state courts over the takeover of the district governing Disney World.
The previous Disney allies on the district's board had signed agreements with Disney that shifted control over design and construction at Disney World to the company. The new DeSantis appointees argue that these agreements diminished their powers, leading to a lawsuit by the district to have the contracts voided. Disney has filed counterclaims, seeking to have the agreements upheld.
Furthermore, Disney has also sued DeSantis, a state agency, and DeSantis' appointees on the district's board in federal court, claiming that its free speech rights were violated when the governor and lawmakers targeted the company for opposing the "Don't Say Gay" law.