Disney is suing over its property tax assessments — again
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, guests watch a show near a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Disney officials said Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, that the iconic Cinderella Castle would be renovated over the next several months. The most noticeable changes will be the addition of gold trim to most of the castle and the darkening of the blue hue on the castle's turrets. Work on the castle will last through the summer. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Disney Castle AP
The Mouse is fighting the assessments from Orange County.

Some things in this world are certain, like death and Disney fighting its taxes.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts recently filed a dozen lawsuits to appeal the 2022 property tax assessments done by the Orange County property appraiser.

It’s the second time this year Disney has turned to the courts to fight its tax bill. Disney, which has contested its property assessments in court for years, filed a series of lawsuits six months ago over the assessments for several resorts and administrative spaces.

In the newest round of Orange County lawsuits from this month, Disney argued against the property appraiser’s methodology for the assessments at the four theme parks, multiple resorts and some of Disney’s other buildings.

“The Appraiser failed  to comply with … Florida Statutes and professionally accepted appraisal practices in assessing the Subject Property. … The Appraiser has included the value of certain intangible property in the Assessments,” Disney said in court documents which didn’t provide details about what The Mouse claimed was done improperly.

In 2022, Epcot was assessed at about $521 million, Hollywood Studios at $479 million, the Magic Kingdom at $467 million and Animal Kingdom at $387 million, according to court documents.

Disney said it has fully paid the 2022 tax bills as it fights the assessments. Disney submitted its tax bills, which, for the No. 1 park in the world, the Magic Kingdom, was $12.8 million if paid by Nov. 30. Epcot’s tax bill was $14.3 million.

For Disney theme parks, 2022 was a banner year financially, with then-company CEO Bob Chapek praising the record financial results last month before he was ousted a short time later. The Disney Parks, Experiences and Products division reported $7.9 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter.

Disney did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this story.

Orange County’s previous Property Appraiser, Rick Singh, had said Disney was historically undervalued.

“It’s a matter of being fair and equitable,” Singh told the Associated Press in 2017. “If the single mother who is working two jobs has to be held accountable to pay her fair share, so should everybody else.”

Singh, who also dealt with well-publicized scandals in office, was later voted out of office and Amy Mercado took over as the new Appraiser in 2021.

Mercado has shown a willingness to make deals with Disney.

Last year, she reached a settlement with Disney that refunded the company about $9 million for the 2015-2020 tax bills for the four theme parks as well as several smaller properties including the Transportation and Ticket Center, the Wedding Pavilion at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Fantasia Fairways Miniature Golf Course.

Mercado’s office declined to comment Friday, but she said last year, “The whole purpose of our office, regardless of who is in it, is fair, equitable and just values. It doesn’t matter who the owners are. What I believe we need to do is remove all the political noise that has occurred throughout the years and give everyone, every property owner, their fair shake.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Boaz

    December 21, 2022 at 11:40 am

    Disney loves its corporate welfare from taxpayers. But who can blame them? Not I. If I were in Disney’s shoes, as it were, I’d love such an arrangement. I imagine Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Legoland, et al., would love similar arrangements from the government. But do you know who can make them pay their fair share in taxes? Our elected leaders and representatives, as well as public policymakers.

  • Bob Jagger

    December 21, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    Corporate welfare for Disney at the expense of Orlando and Orange County taxpayers. I bet SeaWorld, Universal Studios, et al., would like a similar arrangement at taxpayers’ expense.

    • BC

      December 23, 2022 at 5:14 pm

      Uh no. Disney has an arrangement where they tax themselves heavily through the Reedy Creek Improvement District. And I mean – heavily tax. The Reedy Creek tax that Disney paid was 13.57 mills (1.357%) in 2022 when the statutory mill rate cap for county taxes is 10. I looked it up and for Orange County it was 4.4347 for 2022. And Disney pays that too.

      They don’t use regular services provided by cities/counties that are funded by county taxes. But they still pay the county taxes.

Comments are closed.


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