High Tech, Mickey Mouse, and Oranges: The Development and Coexistence of the Military-Space Industry and Tourism in Central Florida


  • Edward J Malecki


Central Florida comprises a very unusual mix of agriculture, high-technology industry, and tourism. No other region in the USA, except California, has such a combination of sectors. This paper looks primarily at two metropolitan areas: Orlando and Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay, which comprise a contiguous area in Central and East Central Florida (Figure 1). The paper begins with a brief historical look at the area - brief in part because the economic history of the region is so recent. The next section focuses briefly on citrus fruit production, a mainstay of the local economy until only recently. This is followed by a discussion of the space and defense industry, a high-technology sector that is the base of manufacturing in the region. The tourism industry, focused on Walt Disney World, is described as the atypical economic base of the Central Florida region. Finally, transportation links related to the tourism complex are discussed.