SBD/August 25, 2011/Facilities

Disney World Turns Over Golf Courses To Arnold Palmer Golf Management

Palmer's group will assume day-to-day operations of Disney courses next month
Walt Disney World “is getting out of the golf business” after four decades, announcing yesterday that it has “struck a 20-year-deal to turn over its five golf courses” to Arnold Palmer Golf Management, according to Jason Garcia of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The move allows Disney World to “step back from a business that has become less attractive amid competition from a glut of new courses built during the housing bubble.” As part of the agreement, APGM on Sept. 25 “will take over day-to-day operations of each of Disney World's golf courses: Palm, Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista, Osprey Ridge and Oak Trail.” Financial terms were not disclosed, though Texas-based APGM “will make annual lease payments to Disney and split revenue earned from the courses with the resort.” Roughly 330 Disney employees "will be affected by the change," but Disney said that "nearly all of the workers will be offered other jobs, at comparable pay, elsewhere in the resort.” Disney “expects others will be hired" by APGM. Garcia notes a “key attraction” for Disney in the deal “is the involvement of Palmer.” As part of the deal, Palmer “will personally oversee a redesign of Disney's Palm course." The arrangement is designed to get Disney “out of the golf business, which has become much more challenging in recent years, particularly in Orlando and the rest of Florida.” Disney said that “turning to an outside company is as much about drawing traffic as it is about cutting costs.” In addition to being able to market Palmer's involvement, Disney “hopes to tap into a membership organization run by the company” dubbed "Palmer Advantage." Disney Sports Enterprises Senior VP Ken Potrock said, "This allows us to reach people that we haven't been able to reach previously that haven't considered Disney golf as a destination for them” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/25).
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