Disney is Once Again Fighting The Tax Assessments On Walt Disney World Property


Disney is once again suing over tax assessments of their property. This time it’s over the evaluation of their theme parks in Orlando. Previously they sued over the tax values assessed on their deluxe resorts.  Frankly, it’s just starting to feel a bit off.

According to an article in Florida Politics Disney is once again suing over tax assessments on areas of Walt Disney World including the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Before this round of lawsuits filed last month, they has sued Orange County Property Appraiser Rick Singh over improperly inflating the value of Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort. One of the points they argued then was that they were using the “Rushmore Method” of appraising that is widely used around the country.

Another point that Disney had tried to make was that they had used “intangibles” like the Disney Brand for their assessment.  Because Disney doesn’t want to be taxed on “their brand” but they want to use it to argue why they charge more for their resorts and hotels.

Now once again Disney is trying to fight the estimated property values arguing that they’re inflated. This time it’s another person’s estimates they don’t like. It is starting to feel like a pattern.

This time they are suing the new Orange County Property Appraiser Amy Mercado over the evaluations they performed on Walt Disney World’s Four Theme Parks. The valuations for them were as follows: Magic Kingdom $507 million ($6.6 million tax bill,) EPCOT $553 million ($7.2 million tax bill), Disney’s Hollywood Studios $540 million ($7 million tax bill) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom $437 million ($5.7 million tax bill.)

Disney apparently doesn’t feel they should have to pay that much in taxes. Instead they will shell out millions in lawyers fees to fight for lower numbers. They also had no problem agreeing to pay up to $11 million in annual performance bonuses for just one executive. Seems they have no problem paying when they want to.

To be fair Disney isn’t the only one suing over the assessments, Sea World and UCF Hotel Venture (Partnership of Universal and Loews Hotels) are also suing over the assessments.

According to the Florida Politics article:

Disney, SeaWorld and Universal argued the assessments were excessive and the appraiser did not follow professionally accepted appraisal practices, although none of the lawsuits provided further details on the allegations. All three companies declined to comment Monday when reached by Florida Politics.

So they are accusing them of not following “professionally accepted appraisal practices” but there doesn’t seem to be specifics given. And it comes after fighting for appraisal methods like the “Rushmore Method” changed previously.

From an outsider it does kind of feel like they are going to challenge any process that doesn’t give them a lower bill.

The author of the Florida Politics article is also the same author that had been on one written for the Orlando Sentinel about the Singh situation when we covered that. Once again they mentioned that Singh has indicated that prior to him Walt Disney World was undervalued by appraisers (they were okay with those assessments) and he wanted to make sure that Disney pays the proper amount.

Singh’s spokesperson had previously told the media Disney World was regularly undervalued by previous appraisers and Singh vowed to fight The Mouse in court. “We hold their feet to the fire,” Singh told the Orlando Sentinel in 2016. Meanwhile, a Disney spokeswoman argued the resort believed its property assessments were unreasonable and the company was doing what any Orange County property owner would do — which is to contest them in order to fix the errors.

Of course the resort believes that, they don’t want to pay anymore than they have to but have no issues raising prices across the board and upcharging guests to make more money.

Maybe they are being over charged, I’m not a tax assessment expert, nor do I claim to be, but we have two different appraisers and both are being told their not doing their jobs right and are over assessing by Disney and other big theme park companies. Seems there is a common denominator here.

What do you think? Comment and let us know.

Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.