Disney abandons plans for its massive Lake Nona regional campus following the actions of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

13 days ago in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Thursday May 18, 2023 2:54pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Disney has abandoned plans for its massive $1 billion campus in Lake Nona Florida as a result of the continued feud with Governor Ron DeSantis.

In an email to employees today, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D'Amaro cited "changing business conditions" as a reason for canceling the Lake Nona project.

D'Amaro originally announced the new regional campus in July 2021 that was planned to serve as a Central Florida regional hub for the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment. At that time, he said "Expanding our already significant DPEP footprint in Florida makes sense. In addition to Florida's business-friendly climate, this new regional campus gives us the opportunity to consolidate our teams and be more collaborative and impactful both from a creative and operational standpoint."

Located in Lake Nona, the new campus was planned to complement Disney's operations in Southern California and its regional hub in the New York City area and be home to more than 2000 Cast, Imagineers and employees. The relocation to Florida was originally planned to be operational by the end of 2022 before being delayed, and has been in the planning stages since 2019.

In a July 2021 memo to staff, D'Amaro said, "While we are still determining exactly which of our team members will be based there, we expect that most Southern California-based DPEP professional roles that are not fully dedicated to the Disneyland Resort or, in some cases, the international parks business, will be asked to relocate to this new Florida campus."

Many Disney employees, particularly within Disney's creative Imagineering department, chose to leave the company rather than relocate to Florida. It remains to be seen if any of those who left will be able to return.

Speaking at a recent investor earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger referred to previously announced plans to spend more than $17 billion at Walt Disney World in Florida over the next 10 years and said, "We have a number of other growth and expansion opportunities at our parks and we are closely evaluating where it makes the most sense to direct future investments."

Bob's actions today appear to be a clear indication that DeSantis' targeted retaliation against Disney will impact the company's plans in Florida. Later in that same call, Iger shared more on the battle with DeSantis and asks if Florida wants Disney to 'invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?'

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mkt8 days ago

Many thousands with remote jobs did just this. Even Florida at its most expensive is still comparatively cheaper than NYC or Socal/SF, especially if you’re earning NYC/Socal/SF wages.

Lilofan8 days ago

FL/GA stateline, law enforcement stopping vehicles with NJ/NY plates from entering the Sunshine State during summer 2020.

pdude818 days ago

You don't think that transferring (presumably) good jobs to a lower cost of living state when the company is willing to pay for relocation might have factored in? It would be a rather odd route to go get a job in Anaheim if you really wanted to live and work in Florida. I would say that article might have more to do with a realtor cold calling people he recently got a commission from trying to get them to sell their houses near Orlando, and they told him to take a hike.

drizgirl8 days ago

During Covid many did just that.

MrMichaelJames8 days ago

I hate to say it but those that moved from CA to FL probably did it more for the political environment in FL compared to CA and because it is something they believe in more than the Disney or job aspect. No one just ups and moves all the way across the country for cost of living issues before a job is actually there.

mkt10 days ago

Probably due to cost of living issues.

JMcMahonEsq10 days ago

You have an interested author to be sure. But in general would it be surprising that people who were the first ones to make the move, would rather stay in Florida, rather than uproot again and move across the country for a second time?

WDWFanRay11 days ago

Since everything on this mornings Realtor feed was about how to respond positively to questions about the Disney pullout, I’m going to say that this story, written by a real estate agent, should probably be taken with a grain of salt. I think very few would cutoff their guaranteed $132,000 (average relocated workers pay) job in California, to gamble to find something similar in Florida, especially with the higher paying jobs starting to dry up here.

Figgy111 days ago

That and several who have made the move even if off record

Figgy111 days ago

Just me but I trust nothing a realtor says. I want everything from them in writing, under oath and notarized. One who makes Youtube videos about how wonderful a location is maybe less so. That said there may be some truth to what he said as they did move well before any deadline and before ground was broken

Brian11 days ago

I'd guess he's speaking to his experience, but he almost certainly doesn't have each of the people who made the move as one of his clients. I'd have preferred to see the author of the article get at least one other real estate agent in on the conversation.

lazyboy97o11 days ago

It would make sense. These are the people who agreed to make the move and do it early before the campus was built. Although making an article out of one real estate agent’s discussions with past clients seems a bit silly. How many people out of 200 is this person actually talking with?

EPCOT-O.G.11 days ago

He’s a realtor, so some boosterism for the vibrancy of the local real estate market is to be expected. I think this is also the guy that, every few months, signal boosts the EPCOT hotel stuff.

Chi8411 days ago

I wonder if there’s any truth to that.