- Disney announced on Thursday that it was scrapping plans to develop a $1 billion corporate campus in Florida.
- A leading Florida Disney history expert said the move showed the state had a lot to lose.
- Central Florida’s economy depends on the tourists Disney attracts.
Conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t pick a battle you can’t lose, but the ongoing feud between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis seems to put Florida in a precarious position. appear.
After more than a year of escalation, Disney’s latest move was to halt its $1 billion development in Florida. The corporate campus could have brought him more than 2,000 high-paying jobs to the Sunshine State, but report Said Disney’s current relationship with Florida was one of several reasons the project was abandoned.
The news has renewed the question of whether it’s wise to pick a fight with one of Florida’s biggest employers, and whether the state, the governor, or the company have more to lose.
Richard Foglesong, Walt Disney World’s leading authority on history and politics, said: “As this case has made clear, I think Mr. DeSantis has more to lose. Mr. DeSantis has a lot more to offer. As a competent politician, it’s just a matter of somehow putting a good face on this.” told an insider last week. Foglesong said he wrote the book Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando in 2003.
Mr. DeSantis has already faced political backlash over the Disney scandal, including accusations from Republicans that the 2024 nominee is not business-friendly and has lost his state job. Regardless of what happens in the ongoing dispute, Florida could lose a lot more depending on how much it benefits Disney financially.
Disney is Florida’s economic powerhouse
a 2019 survey by Oxford Economics Orlando’s tourism industry was found to have generated $75.2 billion in central Florida in 2018. Other attractions are included in this figure, but Disney dominates tourism in the region with four theme parks and two water parks.
The study also found that Orlando’s tourism industry creates nearly 500,000 jobs and brings in $5.8 billion in state and local tax revenue, which goes toward public safety, infrastructure, schools and more.
Disney alone employs 75,000 people in Florida, claiming it is the second-largest private employer in the state after Publix, the grocery store chain. Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Disney Cruise Line ships depart from three different ports in Florida.
Theme parks are only part of Disney’s business
Disney gets even more revenue from its media and entertainment division, which 2022. By comparison, Disney’s parks, experiences and merchandise accounted for his $28.7 billion, or about 33% of the company’s total revenue.
and, Disney’s Florida Resort is the most popular destinationattracts 58 million people annually across its four parks, but the company has many other locations, including international ones, that attract tens of millions of visitors each year.
Disneyland in Anaheim attracted approximately 28.5 million visitors to its two parks combined in 2019. In the same year, Disneyland Paris attracted about 9.7 million visitors, while Shanghai Disneyland (43% owned by Disney) attracted 11.2 million. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, which are owned by Oriental Land under license of intellectual property rights from Disney, had nearly 32.7 million visitors between them in 2019. Hong Kong Disneyland (48% owned by Disney) brought in 6.5 million visitors in 2019. fiscal year.
Disney also has Disney Cruise Line, which plans to expand to Southeast Asia in 2025.
Either way, Disney has choices about where to invest or expand, which could have big implications for Florida.
Other Florida attractions could be hit if Disney focuses its investments elsewhere
As Foglesong previously told Insider, Disney remains in central Florida. There is too much investment in physical stores to move theme parks and resorts elsewhere.
Disney can’t leave the state, but it can “reduce its replenishment investment in Disney World theme parks,” Foglesong said.
He said the overwhelming number of Disney World guests (about 70%) repeat visitor. This is Disney’s credit, but it also creates additional pressure to risk losing customers if it doesn’t continue to invest in its Florida resorts, which unless Disney can compensate, will hurt Orlando’s economy and hurt the state and the company. Both can result in losses. money elsewhere.
“The tough question is how many times will guests come back to see the same rides and attractions?” Foglesong said one reason Disney is keeping repeat customers away is its continued expansion. I added that there is. “It could certainly be argued that Orlando’s economic vitality depends on Disney’s investment—or reinvestment—in new rides and attractions, because without it people wouldn’t come back. “
As the state’s largest tourist attraction, Disney is a major boon to the economy of Central Florida as a whole, as well as to other tourism and tourism businesses. The choice not to reinvest in Florida resorts could adversely affect not only Disney’s own annual visitor numbers, but also the annual visitor numbers of nearby theme parks and businesses.
“A visitor may be drawn to Disney, but they’re not going to spend seven days there,” Foglesong said, adding that the average Disney visitor spends four days at Disney Parks, two at Universal Studios and one at SeaWorld. He added that he could spend a day there. example.
For now, apart from the $1 billion corporate campus, Disney appears to be continuing to invest in Florida.
Disney’s parks chief Josh D’Amaro said Monday that the company plans to spend $17 billion in Florida over the next 10 years and that the dispute with DeSantis isn’t hurting Disney’s business. reported. deadline.
But if DeSantis’ campaign against Disney ultimately leads to less investment in Florida, the mouse house won’t be the only place to lose visitors.
“They’re not just not coming back to Disney World,” Foglesong added. “They’re not coming back to SeaWorld, they’re not coming back to Universal Studios, they’re not coming back to the family-run tourist attractions along the way.”