© 2024 WFIT
Public Radio for the Space Coast
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

UCF Economist says fight between Disney and DeSantis doesn't make sense for either side

Image: Disney, Wikimedia Commons
Image: Disney, Wikimedia Commons

The ongoing feud between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney is ramping up, with the governor recently threatening taxes on hotels and tolls around the theme park. That came in response to Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, saying Florida’s retaliation against the parks were “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.” University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting Director Sean Snaith says the fight over this special tax district won’t last much longer because it doesn’t make sense for either side.

Listen to the full conversation in the player above.

 Sean Snaith is the director at the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Forecasting
Sean Snaith is the director at the University of Central Florida's Institute for Economic Forecasting

Unique Special Tax District

According to the Florida Association of Special Districts, there are over 1,900 special districts in the state involving over 500 local governments.

But, Snaith said there is no special district in Florida as unique as Reedy Creek was.

"It really was like an autonomous government plucked down in the middle of the state of Florida and Central Florida."

Snaith said it would be difficult for Disney to replicate Reedy Creek somewhere else in the country.

"Basically, you'd have to take away power from the existing entities for that particular geography," he says. "And I think that would be a tougher row to hoe at this time in our history."

What if Disney left Florida?

Gov. Ron DeSantis is threatening taxeson hotels around Disney, tolls around the theme park, and more.

That came in response to Disney CEO Bob Iger saying Florida’s retaliation against the parks are “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”

Snaith said that while the fight is waging on, he can’t imagine Disney ever deciding not to do business here.

"This is, I think along the lines of what would happen if a meteor struck Central Florida."

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Disney employs more 58,000 people in Florida, making it one of the top 5 employers in the state.

Along with providing jobs, Snaith says business surrounding Disney, like on I-Drive, also get to benefit from the influx of visitors to the theme park.

"There's a lot of crumbs that come off the table and create a lot of jobs and business opportunities in Florida. So if you were to wave a wand and make all that go away, I mean, this would be a tremendous blow to the economy. That being said I think it's 1,000% unlikely that it would ever happen."

Snaith said it doesn't make sense for Disney or Florida, if the theme park were to leave the state.

"The reality is there's a symbiotic relationship here. The location, the climate, the infrastructure, as it's been constructed. Where can you replicate that in the United States?"

He said there's nothing to be gained by either party by staying in a state of war.

Copyright 2023 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.