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WATCH: Predicting Disney World’s economic impact during its first decade of operation

In 1967, Economic Research Associates were hired to find out what impact the upcoming Disney World Resort would have on the state. The outcome, it turned out, would surprise even Disney






When Disney World first opened its Magic Kingdom theme park in 1971, expectations were sky high for the potential of the Florida resort.

In 1967, the company hired Economic Research Associates (ERA) to research the economic impact that the planned Disney World might have on Central Florida over its first decade.

Called the Economic Impact of Disney World, the report reflected what the company thought Disney World would do to the state during its first ten years of operation.

ERA’s report possibly unsurprisingly predicted that the resort would primarily generate tourism revenue. However, looking back at the time it was written, Disney World’s master plan featured just one theme park, with the futuristic Epcot then set to act as a real functioning city with permanent residents.

Even with Epcot at the heart of Disney World’s original master plan, it was believed by ERA that the primary source of income would be tourists visiting both the theme park and Disney’s proposed city of the future.

ERA predicted a net tourism spend over a decade of US$3.9bn, US$2.7bn coming from Disney World itself and the resort welcoming 65 million visitors in its first decade.

Content creator Midway to Main Street has analysed the report, comparing ERA’s forecast with the eventual results, which, as it turns out, were some way off the true figures.

The Disney World that ended up being developed was significantly different from Walt Disney’s original vision, with Epcot turning from a living city to a world showcase and vision of what at the time was perceived to be the future. Most importantly though, the park wouldn’t open until 1982, with the date falling outside the period of the ERA report.

Even with an only partially-developed Disney World, by 1981 more than 126 million people had visited the resort - an average of 14 million tourists each year and nearly double that of ERA’s original prediction.

The spending was significantly higher as well, with visitors over the decade spending US$14bn - more than three times that of the forecast.

Today tourism has become a staple of Florida’s economy, with 120 million annual visitors pre pandemic and one in nine Florida residents working in the tourism industry. Disney can be credited for kick-starting this tourism boom and currently also stands as the largest single site employer in the nation.

ERA no longer exists, with the company acquired by economic analysts AECOM in November 2007.

For more on Disney’s predicted impact in the 80s, check out the video at the top of this story


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Home Opinion In depth Video
WATCH: Predicting Disney World’s economic impact during its first decade of operation | Planet Attractions

video

WATCH: Predicting Disney World’s economic impact during its first decade of operation

In 1967, Economic Research Associates were hired to find out what impact the upcoming Disney World Resort would have on the state. The outcome, it turned out, would surprise even Disney






When Disney World first opened its Magic Kingdom theme park in 1971, expectations were sky high for the potential of the Florida resort.

In 1967, the company hired Economic Research Associates (ERA) to research the economic impact that the planned Disney World might have on Central Florida over its first decade.

Called the Economic Impact of Disney World, the report reflected what the company thought Disney World would do to the state during its first ten years of operation.

ERA’s report possibly unsurprisingly predicted that the resort would primarily generate tourism revenue. However, looking back at the time it was written, Disney World’s master plan featured just one theme park, with the futuristic Epcot then set to act as a real functioning city with permanent residents.

Even with Epcot at the heart of Disney World’s original master plan, it was believed by ERA that the primary source of income would be tourists visiting both the theme park and Disney’s proposed city of the future.

ERA predicted a net tourism spend over a decade of US$3.9bn, US$2.7bn coming from Disney World itself and the resort welcoming 65 million visitors in its first decade.

Content creator Midway to Main Street has analysed the report, comparing ERA’s forecast with the eventual results, which, as it turns out, were some way off the true figures.

The Disney World that ended up being developed was significantly different from Walt Disney’s original vision, with Epcot turning from a living city to a world showcase and vision of what at the time was perceived to be the future. Most importantly though, the park wouldn’t open until 1982, with the date falling outside the period of the ERA report.

Even with an only partially-developed Disney World, by 1981 more than 126 million people had visited the resort - an average of 14 million tourists each year and nearly double that of ERA’s original prediction.

The spending was significantly higher as well, with visitors over the decade spending US$14bn - more than three times that of the forecast.

Today tourism has become a staple of Florida’s economy, with 120 million annual visitors pre pandemic and one in nine Florida residents working in the tourism industry. Disney can be credited for kick-starting this tourism boom and currently also stands as the largest single site employer in the nation.

ERA no longer exists, with the company acquired by economic analysts AECOM in November 2007.

For more on Disney’s predicted impact in the 80s, check out the video at the top of this story


 
© Kazoo 5 Limited 2021