Orlando Reignites Challenge to Disney With Latest Move

Mickey Mouse waving and saying "bye" in front of Disney World
Credit: Disney; Edited on Canva

The City of Orlando has approved a new entertainment district that challenges “The Most Magical Place on Earth” with its very name.

The Walt Disney World Resort has been one of the primary tourist destinations in Central Florida (and Orlando itself) for decades now. The Disney Resort has more than proven its worth as an economic, social, and entertainment mainstay when it comes to its contributions to the Sunshine State.

cinderella castle magic kingdom

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World / Credit: Greg Park, Unsplash

According to a 2022 report from The Walt Disney Company, the Mouse House’s theme park “generated $40 billion in economic impact across the state of Florida and more than a quarter of a million total jobs in fiscal year 2022.”

Despite the feud between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney World Resort—which has now been put to rest—the reality is that the Mouse House and the state of Florida enjoyed a special relationship that allowed the Disney Resort to build itself (and therefore the economy of Orlando) up in meaningful ways. 

The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company / Credit: Disney

But we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that there are also very real consequences that have arisen from the long-standing battle between Disney and DeSantis. 

For one, many other developers have decided to try their luck in the entertainment industry, and we’re not speaking just of Universal Orlando. While Universal has made its presence known as a frontrunner and noteworthy rival of the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando is encouraging other entertainment districts to set up shop in the city. 

Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis / Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Per a recent report from Fox35 Orlando, the City of Orlando has just approved the development of the Magic Entertainment District—presumably challenging “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” albeit primarily through its name—in downtown Orlando

The new district will be located across from Orlando’s KIA Center and directly north of it. It will be bounded by W. Church Street, Division Avenue, W. Central Boulevard, and S. Hughey Avenue. It will “bring a mix of retail, entertainment, apartments, and hotels.”  It’s being developed by SED Development, LLC, JMA Ventures, LLC, and Machete Group, Inc.

Disney World Thanksgiving travel

Credit: Disney

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins shared in a statement, “With today’s approval and the leadership of Mayor Dyer and City Council, we are looking forward to the next phase of the project and bringing the sports and entertainment district to life.” 

He continued, “We are thrilled to have JMA Ventures and Machete Group guide the development of this joint venture with the DeVos Family and the Orlando Magic. It will be a great place to live, work, and play in the heart of downtown and will provide significant job and contract opportunities during and after construction.”

More specifically, along with office space and parking, the district will include a live event venue, plaza space, retail, restaurants, a hotel with 260 rooms, and a residential high-rise with 270 units.

Orlando is also particularly supporting the building of this sports-entertainment district; on Monday, the city council voted on incentives for them and agreed to refund the developer between $35 million and $40 million in property taxes.

Resident C’ashia McCrary shared, “That entertainment system would bring a lot of traffic, and bring money to Orlando, and I think it’s needed for people who come to the KIA Center and go to the NBA games,” adding, “Those apartments would be great for more people to stay downtown as well.”

Stay tuned to Disney Dining for the latest news on all things Disney and coverage of its competitors.

About Priyanka Kumar

Priyanka is a writer, artist, avid reader, and travel enthusiast based in Chicago. In her free time, she is probably walking by the lake, catching up on the latest releases on TV, or spending inordinate amounts of time rewatching Moana, Encanto, and her Disney Channel life-long favorites Zack and Cody wreak havoc on the Tipton.

One comment

  1. Unfortunately, past efforts by Orlando to bring tourists downtown have failed.

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