Walt Disney World has been playing it smart in Florida since those 1960s dummy corporations were designed to avoid a land-speculation boom. Since then it has enjoyed favored status. Think: Reedy Creek Improvement District and WDW immunity from land-use laws.
Disney’s tourist-mecca status, however, has had obvious synergistic impacts on Florida. On occasion, enlightened self-interest has been a complementary key. That’s been notably revisited recently.
Disney is now a major player in Florida’s pitch to the feds for $2.5 billion in stimulus money to help launch a high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa within five years. Disney has said it will give the state up to 50 acres for a rail station. It will also extend transportation to the station and use its considerable land-use clout. The feds want “shovel-ready” projects in key transportation corridors, but they’re also impressed by private-sector buy-in. Disney on board helps the rail cause.
On a more pedestrian level, Disney has now begun a new promotional give-away – one that rewards those making positive societal contributions. Specifically, it’s giving free passes to those who volunteer at select charities.
Of course, it’s smart marketing – and those with free passes don’t get free refreshments or free Mouse Ears. But it also promotes volunteerism and affords free publicity for the benefiting nonprofits.
It’s classic win-win – not unlike having a 150-mph train accommodating those traveling between Tampa and Disney-proximate Orlando.