Disney Touts $40B Economic Impact in Florida Amid Battle With DeSantis


Disney is flexing its economic muscle in Florida. The company has released a report laying out its considerable economic impact on the state accompanied by an ad campaign, amid an ongoing legal and political battle with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The company added $40.3 billion to Florida’s economy in 2022 and supported 263,000 jobs, or 1 in every 32 jobs in the state, according to the report by Oxford Economics that Disney commissioned. 

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The job numbers are based on the 82,000 people directly employed by Disney, as well as jobs created indirectly through its economic ecosystem. 

Disney also contracts with 2,500 small businesses and generated $3.1 billion in state and local taxes last year, per the report. The tax revenue and jobs are generated by Walt Disney World and the surrounding 25,000-square-foot resort outside Orlando, as well the Disney Cruise Line in Port Canaveral, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. 

The report comes as Disney battles DeSantis over the state’s takeover of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the municipal district that houses Disney World that Disney previously governed. In a coordinated publicity campaign, Disney is also airing a commercial online and on television promoting its importance to Florida, Bloomberg reported

Disney and DeSantis are engaged in a feud that stems from Disney’s criticism of an anti-LGBTQ law enacted by the DeSantis administration in 2022. Earlier this year, a DeSantis-appointed board took over the Reedy Creek district, renaming it the Central Florida Oversight District. The two sides have since traded lawsuits over governance of the district as well as free speech. 

Meanwhile, Disney has been facing financial issues on multiple fronts, with losses from its streaming business, production delays caused by the recently ended actors strike, and declining attendance at its parks. 

In its quarterly report released earlier this month, the company missed expectations on sales but reported better-than-expected earnings. It also announced that it would look to cut another $2 billion in expenses in an effort to make streaming profitable, in addition to previously announced cuts of $5.5 billion. 

Chava Gourarie can be reached at cgourarie@commercialobserver.com.