Sharing the Magic

Filed in: About WDW

Economic Impact

Walt Disney World Resort is a significant contributor to the economic well-being and vitality of Central Florida. Disney is the largest single-site employer in the United States, employing more than 75,000 Cast Members in Central Florida, in more than 3,000 different job classifications with total 2018 annual payroll of over $2.7 billion. Walt Disney World Resort is the largest single taxpayer in Central Florida, contributing $702.7 million in total state and local taxes paid and collected for 2018.


Community Leadership

  • Walt Disney World Resort is committed to providing leadership that will continue to help Central Florida thrive and grow. Currently, executives serve on the boards of more than 100 business & industry or charitable affiliated organizations.

Investing in Central Florida’s Children and Families

Walt Disney World Resort’s community programs and partnerships are focused on building better futures for local children, and ultimately, creating a stronger community for everyone. These efforts are geared toward helping families meet basic needs, youth development and education.

The company donated nearly $34.5 million in cash and in-kind support to local nonprofit organizations in 2018. Examples include:

  • As part of its overall $3.9 million community investment in 2018, Walt Disney World Resort awarded $500,000 in Disney Grants to unique and promising community projects that strongly align with Disney’s philanthropic approach. During the April 2018 celebration, top recipients included Second Harvest Food Bank of Central, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida – Lake & Sumter Counties, Urban Think Foundation, Inc., Orange County Library System, and the Central Florida Commission on Homeless.
  • Surplus inventory from Walt Disney World Resort continues to meet the needs of many nonprofit organizations in Central Florida. Merchandise and in-kind product donations in 2018 were valued at $4.9 million.
  • Walt Disney World Resort is a valued partner to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. As part of this recognition, the Coalition continues to receive ongoing comprehensive support from Disney, which includes board service, assistance in the maintenance and improvement of Coalition facilities, more than 9,000 meals donated annually and donations of warm blankets in the winter.
  • Walt Disney World Resort is the largest corporate contributor to the Heart of Florida United Way. In 2018, Disney and its Cast Members donated more than $3.4 million to United Wayto help nonprofit agencies meet social services in Central Florida and beyond.
  • Disney continues to be a primary sponsor of A Gift for Teaching with an annual grant of $75,000, and is also the largest contributor of surplus classroom materials, which is made available to teachers for their students in need. Disney also is a founding sponsor of one of its programs, A Gift for Music, providing free instruction on stringed instruments to students who normally could not afford such an opportunity.
  • More than 802,000 pounds of prepared and unserved foodwere donated to the local community through Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. 2018 marked the 26th year of the Disney Harvest Program.


Other initiatives in which Walt Disney World Resort has played an active role include:

  • The Walt Disney Pavilion at Florida Hospital for Children was made possible in part by a $10 million commitment by Disney. Disney Imagineers designed the hospital’s lobby, which features supporting characters from classic Disney films in a welcoming, healing environment that places young patients in the starring role.
  • In addition to contributing $1 million to rebuild the Boys & Girls Club Walt Disney World Clubhouse in Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort also invested over $100,000 in October 2015 to expand their kitchen, making it possible to provide hot meals to more than 100 kids daily. The company also donated $750,000 for a teen center in the Tupperware Brands Branch Boys & Girls Club in Osceola County, which opened in 2011. In 2017, the new Levy Hughes club opened in the new Orange County Public Schools’ Academic Excellence Center in Parramore, a school designed to provide wrap-around services for children and families.  A donation of $1.1 million helped pay off remaining building costs.


Supporting Local Arts Organizations

  • Disney contributed $12.5 million to the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, home to the 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater. Opened in November 2014, the performing arts center is significant to the cultural growth of Central Florida and a premiere destination for the arts in Orlando.


Supporting Education

As part of Disney’s commitment to building a better future for Central Florida’s children, Walt Disney World Resort is actively involved in supporting education. The benefits for the region are far-reaching; money and time invested in educational programs show a return in higher graduation and employment rates, reduced crime and less reliance on public assistance.

  • Walt Disney World Resort has given more than $6.8 million to the University of Central Florida (UCF) over the past 16 years, including contributions of $3 million to the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management and more than $1 million to the UCF College of Medicine.
  • Over the last six years, Disney has donated more than $4.2 million to scholarship funds and development programs at Bethune-Cookman University, Florida A&M UniversityRollins College and Valencia College.
  • In 2018, public school districts and early learning coalitions in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties received a combined total of more than $300,000 as part of Disney’s annual community investment to enhance student performance from preschool through 12thgrade.
  • Walt Disney World Cast Members contribute to the company’s annual Back-to-School Supply Drive.  In August 2018, they donated $179,751 worth of school supplies and another $16,472 in cash donations (with company match) to benefit more than 190,000 youth in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Polk and Seminole counties. Over the past 10 years, Cast Members have donated over 2 million school supplies.
  •  To date, more than 14,000 students have been named Disney Dreamers and Doers. The program, which began in 1984, recognizes exceptional students throughout Central Florida for their outstanding efforts at home, school or in their community to make our world a better place.


VoluntEARS Show Character

  • In 2018, Disney VoluntEARS logged more than 360,000 hours toward improving the lives of Central Floridians. Efforts ranged from donating more than 206,000 school supplies to local students, to serving more than 9,000 meals to the homeless.

VoluntEAR efforts include:

  • More than 1,762 Cast Members participated in the “Disney VoluntEARS Grants” program, converting their VoluntEAR hours into more than $1.6 million in grants to 685 nonprofit agencies and community service groups.
  • In December 2017, Walt Disney World Cast Members helped make the holidays brighter for thousands of local children by collecting more than 28,000 toysfor the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. VoluntEARS also gave more than 4,000 hours toward helping the U.S. Marines register Central Florida families in need, sort and stock toys and assist with toy distribution.
  • For more than 20 years, Walt Disney World Resort has supported Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Florida by contributing more than $5 million in cash and in-kind contributions through events such as the JA Bowl-A-Thon. VoluntEARS also teach JA financial literacy classes for grades K-12 in Orange and Osceola counties.
  • Disney annually recognizes a VoluntEAR of the Year, VoluntEAR Team of the Year and VoluntEAR Family of the Year with $2,500 cash donations to the eligible charity of their choice.


Granting Wishes

Walt Disney World Resort works with children’s wish-granting organizations around the world to make Disney dreams come true. Whether it’s a desire to dance with Cinderella, or a chance to play football with Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney World Resort helps create special memories for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Disney-themed wishes continue to be the most popular requests from children with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

  • In 2018, Disney hosted more than 8,400 wish trips for children and donated complimentary tickets valued at more than $17 million to Give Kids the World Villageand other wish-granting organizations.


At Walt Disney World Resort, our vision is to deliver magical entertainment experiences with integrity and do so in ways that engage the imaginations of people of all ages and interests. Those same high standards are applied to our corporate citizenship efforts, encompassing the environment, community, workplaces and most important, children and families.

Updated: May 2019