Sharing the Magic with Central Florida

Filed in: About WDW, About WDW Fact Sheets, Fact Sheets, Making a Difference, Walt Disney World Resort

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 74,000 
Cast Members in Central Florida, in more than 3,000 different job classifications with total 2017 annual payroll of more than $2 billion.

Revenue for Central Florida Governments

Walt Disney World Resort is the largest single taxpayer in Central Florida, contributing $621.1 million in total state and local taxes paid and collected for 2016. 

  • Walt Disney World Resort paid approximately $134 million in ad valorem taxes in 2016; an estimated $123 million is paid to Orange County and over $11 million to Osceola County. 
  • In Orange County, Disney pays more in taxes than the next 9 highest county taxpayers combined. Approximately $72.5 million of those funds go directly to education.
  • Disney generated approximately 31 percent of the Tourist Development Taxes collected in Orange County and approximately 26 percent of these taxes in Osceola County in 2016. 
  • Disney paid or collected more than $621.1 million in state sales, use and communications taxes and local resort taxes for the surrounding communities in 2016.
  • In addition to the county taxes, Walt Disney World Resort paid more than $101 million in taxes to the Reedy Creek Improvement District in 2016. These tax dollars go toward building hundreds of millions of dollars worth of public infrastructure at no cost to taxpayers.

Further diversifying Florida’s economy

Walt Disney World leaders were actively engaged in the development of a medical city at Lake Nona, working closely with Central Florida leaders to bring the Burnham Institute to Central Florida and helping to make the dream of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine a reality. Both projects are expected to help diversify and drive the region’s economy for years to come.

Community Leadership

Walt Disney World Resort is committed to providing leadership that will continue to help Central Florida thrive and grow. This includes having more than 100 Disney Cast Members serve on the boards of local nonprofit 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 $34 million in cash and in-kind support to local nonprofit organizations in 2016. Examples include:

  • Walt Disney World Resort awarded more than $4 million in Disney Grants to 100 local nonprofit organizations that work tirelessly to build better futures for more than 300,000 children and their families in Central Florida. During the September 2017 ceremony, top recipients included A Gift For Teaching and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida.
  • 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 2016 were valued at $3 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 clothing in the winter.
  • Walt Disney World Resort is the largest corporate contributor to the Heart of Florida United Way. In 2016, Disney and its Cast Members donated more than $3.5 million to the United Way to help nonprofit agencies meet social services needs in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
  • 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 760,000 pounds of prepared and unserved food were donated to the local community through Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. 2017 marks the 25th 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.
  • To assist the region in ending chronic and family homelessness, Walt Disney World Resort presented $500,000 to the Homeless Impact Fund at the Central Florida Foundation in December 2015.
  • Walt Disney World Resort donated $500,000 toward construction of Second Harvest Food Bank’s facility, which opened in March 2013.
  • In addition to contributing $1 million to build the Boys & Girls Club Walt Disney World Clubhouse in Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort also gave $100,000 to expand its kitchen that provides meals to more than 100 kids daily, which opened in October 2015. The company also gave $750,000 for a teen center in the Tupperware Brands Branch Boys & Girls Club in Osceola County, which opened in 2011.

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 $6.3 million to the University of Central Florida (UCF) over the past 16 years, including contributions of $2 million to the UCF Rosen School of Hospitality Management and $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 University, Rollins College and Valencia College.
  • In addition to a $1 million contribution to United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Hispanic Scholarship Fund by The Walt Disney Company, Walt Disney World Resort has contributed $15,000 to UNCF Orlando and $20,000 to the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando.
  • In March 2017, public school districts and early learning coalitions in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties received a combined total of more than $300,000 in Disney Grants to enhance student performance from preschool through 12th grade.
  • Walt Disney World Cast Members conduct an annual Back-to-School Supply Drive, donating millions of school supplies. In August 2017, they donated $156,220 worth of school supplies and another $11,710 in cash donations (with company match) to benefit more than 120,000 youth in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Polk and Seminole counties.
  • To date, more than 14,000 students have been named Disney Dreamers and Doers. The program 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 2016, Disney VoluntEARS logged more than 260,000 hours, toward improving the lives of Central Floridians. Efforts ranged from donating hundreds of thousands of dollars of school supplies to local students, to serving more than 9,000 meals to the homeless.

VoluntEAR efforts include:

  • In July 2017, Walt Disney World VoluntEARS donated nearly $1.5 million to almost 550 nonprofit agencies and community service groups through Disney’s EARS To You grant program. The grants from The Walt Disney Company annually recognize individual Cast Members, Crew Members and Imagineers for their VoluntEAR service (based on prior calendar year) through a contribution of up to $2,000 to the eligible charity of their choice. Top recipients included animal rescue organizations and groups that support children and families.
  • In December 2016, Walt Disney World Cast Members helped make the holidays brighter for thousands of local children by collecting more than 25,000 toys for 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 2016, Disney hosted more than 8,000 wish trips for children and donated complimentary tickets valued at more than $13 million to Give Kids the World Village and 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 Nov. 2, 2017