Walt Disney World Resort is an iconic vacation destination and economic powerhouse in Florida. But what would happen if Disney uprooted its theme parks and resorts and left the state? The economic, political and social impact would be immense.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Florida would lose billions in revenue and hundreds of thousands of jobs if Disney departed. Major infrastructure projects and businesses would be abandoned, devastating the Central Florida economy.

In this article, we’ll analyze the hypothetical scenario of Disney closing down its Florida operations and relocating elsewhere. From job losses to political implications, we’ll look at the potential effects on tourism, real estate, infrastructure and more.

Economic Impact on Florida

If Disney were to leave Florida, it would have a significant economic impact on the state. Florida’s economy heavily relies on tourism, and Disney is a major contributor to the industry. Here are two areas that would be greatly affected:

Loss of Tourism Revenue

Disney World is one of the top tourist destinations in Florida, attracting millions of visitors from around the world each year. The theme park’s departure would result in a significant loss of tourism revenue for the state.

According to a report by Visit Florida, tourism generated $91.3 billion in spending and supported 1.5 million jobs in the state in 2019. With Disney’s departure, these numbers would undoubtedly decline, impacting not only businesses directly tied to the theme park but also the wider tourism industry.


The departure of Disney from Florida would lead to a surge in unemployment rates. Disney World is one of the largest employers in the state, providing jobs to thousands of Floridians. If the company were to leave, it would result in mass layoffs and create a ripple effect throughout the local economy.

Small businesses that rely on Disney’s presence, such as hotels, restaurants, and shops, would also suffer as a result of decreased customer traffic.

To put it into perspective, in 2019, Disney World employed approximately 77,000 people. Losing these jobs would not only impact the individuals directly employed by Disney but also have a wider effect on the job market as a whole.

The unemployment rate would rise, putting a strain on the state’s economy and potentially leading to an increase in social welfare costs.

Abandoned Infrastructure

If Disney were to leave Florida, the impact on the local infrastructure would be significant. One of the most noticeable effects would be the abandonment of transportation systems that were once bustling with activity.

Unused Transportation

Disney World in Florida operates an extensive transportation network, including monorails, buses, and boats, to transport guests between its theme parks, hotels, and other attractions. Without Disney’s presence, these transportation systems would likely become obsolete and unused.

The monorails, which are iconic symbols of Disney World, would sit idle, their once bright colors fading in the Florida sun. The buses that once shuttled guests from hotels to parks would no longer be needed, leaving parking lots empty and bus stops deserted.

Even the boats that ferried guests across the various bodies of water within the resort would rest motionless, a stark reminder of the vibrant activity that used to take place.

This abandonment of transportation infrastructure would not only be a visual eyesore but could also have a negative impact on the surrounding communities. Local businesses that relied on the constant flow of tourists and employees would suffer as foot traffic dwindles, leading to potential closures and job losses.

Vacant Hotels and Shops

Another consequence of Disney leaving Florida would be the vacancy of hotels and shops that once thrived on the tourism industry. Disney World is home to a variety of hotels, from value resorts to luxurious accommodations, all catering to the needs of its guests.

Without Disney’s presence, these hotels would lose their main source of customers, resulting in empty rooms and deserted lobbies. The once vibrant atmosphere would be replaced by silence and stillness.

Restaurants and shops that once bustled with activity would be forced to close their doors, leaving behind empty storefronts and lost opportunities for local businesses.

The impact on the local economy would be significant, as the loss of Disney’s presence would lead to a decrease in tourist spending, resulting in a ripple effect that could impact other industries and businesses in the area.

Political Changes

Disney’s presence in Florida extends beyond its theme parks and resorts. The company has significant political influence in the state, and if it were to leave, there would be several political changes that could occur.

Loss of Disney Lobbying

One major impact of Disney leaving Florida would be the loss of its lobbying efforts. Disney is known for its strong lobbying presence in the state, advocating for policies that benefit its business interests.

Without Disney’s lobbying efforts, the political landscape in Florida could see a shift in priorities and legislation.

Currently, Disney lobbies for issues such as tax breaks for the entertainment industry, infrastructure improvements, and tourism promotion. Their lobbying efforts have helped shape legislation in favor of the company and the tourism industry as a whole.

Without Disney’s influence, other industries or interest groups may step in to fill the void, potentially leading to new lobbying efforts and a change in legislative priorities. This could have a significant impact on the state’s economy and the overall business climate.

New Legislation

If Disney were to leave Florida, it could also lead to the introduction of new legislation aimed at attracting other businesses or industries to fill the economic gap left by Disney. The state government may prioritize the development of new incentives and policies to entice companies to invest in Florida.

For example, the government could introduce tax incentives or regulatory reforms to encourage the growth of other industries such as technology, manufacturing, or renewable energy. This would be an effort to diversify the state’s economy and reduce its reliance on the tourism industry.

Additionally, the departure of Disney could also lead to a reevaluation of the state’s tourism strategy. Florida heavily relies on tourism for its economy, and losing Disney’s presence would require a reassessment of how to attract visitors and maintain the state’s status as a top tourist destination.

It’s important to note that these potential political changes are speculative and may vary depending on the circumstances surrounding Disney’s departure. However, it is clear that Disney’s exit would have a significant impact on the political landscape in Florida and could potentially lead to the introduction of new legislation and a shift in lobbying efforts.

Impact on Orlando Area

If Disney were to leave Florida, the impact on the Orlando area would be significant. With Disney World being one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state, its departure would have a ripple effect on the local economy and community.

Depressed Housing Market

One major consequence of Disney’s departure would be a depressed housing market. The presence of Disney World has attracted a large number of employees and residents to the area. Many people have built their lives around the opportunities provided by the theme park.

If Disney were to leave, the demand for housing would decrease dramatically, leading to a surplus of available properties. Homeowners would likely see a decrease in property values, and selling a home would become increasingly difficult.

Additionally, the rental market would also be affected. Many landlords rely on the influx of Disney employees and tourists to rent out their properties. Without Disney’s presence, these landlords would struggle to find tenants, leading to a decrease in rental prices and potential vacancies.

Shuttered Support Businesses

Not only would the housing market suffer, but the local businesses that rely on Disney and its visitors would also be greatly impacted. Restaurants, hotels, and shops in the area would experience a significant decline in customers, potentially leading to closures and job losses.

The Orlando area has developed a vast network of support businesses that cater specifically to the needs of Disney World and its visitors. From transportation services to souvenir shops, these businesses would struggle to survive without the constant flow of Disney-related business.

For example, the International Drive area, which is home to numerous hotels and attractions, heavily relies on the tourism generated by Disney World. Without the influx of tourists, these businesses would face a substantial decrease in revenue, ultimately forcing them to make difficult decisions to stay afloat.

Changes to Entertainment Industry

Disney is an iconic part of Florida’s entertainment industry, and if it were to leave, there would undoubtedly be significant changes in the landscape. From competition for tourists to ripple effects throughout the entire industry, the impact would be far-reaching.

Competition for Tourists

One major change that would occur if Disney left Florida is the increased competition for tourists. Currently, Disney World attracts millions of visitors each year, and its absence would create a void that other attractions would try to fill.

Theme parks, hotels, and other entertainment destinations would have to work harder to attract visitors, resulting in a more competitive market. This could lead to innovative new attractions, discounted prices, and a greater variety of entertainment options for tourists to choose from.

Ripple Effects

The departure of Disney from Florida would also have ripple effects throughout the entire entertainment industry in the state. Many businesses, from restaurants to souvenir shops, rely heavily on the influx of tourists that Disney brings.

Without Disney, these businesses would have to find new ways to attract customers and potentially face financial challenges. The local economy would likely suffer as well, as the loss of Disney’s presence would lead to a decrease in job opportunities and economic growth.

Additionally, the absence of Disney would impact other theme parks and attractions in the area. Currently, Disney World acts as a magnet for tourists, drawing them to Florida and encouraging them to visit other nearby attractions.

Without Disney, these other attractions would have to work harder to attract visitors, potentially leading to changes in pricing, marketing strategies, and overall visitor experiences.


While hypothetical, examining a scenario where Disney leaves Florida paints a picture of immense economic and political challenges for the state. With billions in revenue and infrastructure disappearing overnight, the effects would fundamentally transform Central Florida. This thought experiment highlights Disney’s deep integration into the region’s fabric.

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