Disney Set to Shutter Florida Operations ??
What Would Extreme Measures to Fight Republicans Look Like to 80,000 Florida Workers?
By: G.W. Pomichter
In a bold move by the Florida lawmakers, The Walt Disney Corporation’s decades old special district status was repealed by the Florida legislature. This move was encouraged by Florida’s Republican Governor and future presidential hopeful, Ron DeSantis, as yet another part of his ongoing feud with the megacorp regarding the recent passage of his so called “Don’t Say Gay,” education bill.
Recently DeSantis and the Republican controlled legislature passed the “Don’t Say Gay” education bill, which many in the LGBTQ community opposed. The Walt Disney Company responded to the passage of the bill with statements they say supported a large percentage of their workforce as well as the larger LGBTQ community, which has a special connection to Central Florida, where the company operates its Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts.
The resulting war of words escalated quickly when the Florida governor declared an economic war on the company citing its “corporate ‘woke’ agenda.” The governor and legislative Republicans struck the first blow, passing a repeal of the 50+ year special district status that allowed the Disney Company to expand and grow its 39 square mile entertainment destination under self-governance.
The question now is, "How will the company respond to this first volley?"
According to a recent study from 2019, Walt Disney Parks are responsible for more than $75 billion in economic impact to the Central Florida region, and employs 80,000 area workers directly, as well as being responsible for the ongoing livelihoods of more than 463,000 area workers.
At $75 billion in economic impact for a state with a budget that only slightly exceeds $100 billion annually, the financial devastation created by the company ceasing it’s Florida operations is cause for notable concern to workers, residents, support industries and local governments alike.
According to the study from Oxford Economic data, the Walt Disney Corporation is almost exclusively responsible for an added $5.8 billion in sales tax alone.
While the company’s progressive response to the passage of the now controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill may not have reflected a majority opinion, it also cited in its statement that it would fight the bill in its existing legal lobbying efforts and through the court system. This is a fight that it appears state Republican lawmakers were keen to avoid by flexing their authority in the strongest and most aggressive manner possible.
In addition to risking an escalation of the war between Disney and DeSantis that could result in Disney leaving the state in favor of a more company friendly state or simply doubling down on its popular California attractions, by repealing the special district legislation that allowed the company to operate its self-governed 27,000 acre property, the legislature acknowledged that it would leave Central Florida residents and taxpayers on the hook for as much as a billion dollars in bond debt, as well.
The question now, as tensions heat up between Republican lawmakers and the Walt Disney Company, remains heavily focused on whether or not the 51 year love affair between Florida and Mickey Mouse is finally over.
As Floridians look on at the unfolding quarrel, people are beginning to ponder who has the upper hand and just what 80,000 layoffs would do to the Central Florida economy. Many are left to speculate as to whether it would have a significant impact on the employer that posted 12.6 billion in profits in pre-COVID years, and more than $2 billion in a COVID restricted 2021.
After 5 decades of sustained growth yielding one of the nation’s most effective economic partnerships, it seems that the politics of the day could be poised to split the pair, leaving Floridians in the lurch for billions in damages and returning the nearly 40 square miles of parkland to the swamp and pasturelands of the past.
** M. I. C. - "C" you in California, K. E. Y. - "Y ?" Because Florida doesn't want us anymore ... M. O. U. S. E. !
NOTE: To date, The Walt Disney Company has made no statements about there reponses to the passage of the repeal, and has made no statements to its intentions. This article merely highlights the potential for extreme behaviors created by extreme political discourse. READERS are encouraged to make their own speculations, review BOTH the Educations Bill and the Repeal of the special district provisions and any other materials when forming reasonable opinions.
NOTE: Some May or May NOT debate the costs associated with starting over again in a new location or such a plan's viability or likelyhood: Some factors to consider: Euro Disney Cost $5 Billion to build and has made $37 Billion since. Disney Tokyo costs and estimated $4 Billion to build and is considered one of the MOST profitable Disney properties. In 1967 on opening day it was estimated that Disney World's cost was roughly $400 Million, adjusted for todays dollar that is approximately $3.4 Billion and it makes roughly $17 Billion annually.