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

May 18, 2023 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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Lilofan15 days ago

Also The CA cast on temp assignment at WDW are taken care off. With the long hours day and night they put in their accommodations are at the resorts.

JoeCamel15 days ago

I think you are leaving out the AK trailer park in the making.

Batman'sParents15 days ago

I believe it's that general area. I couldn't put my finger on the exact office location. What's also interesting is that WDI has separate trailers as well, in addition to the office space. Between DHS, Maingate, and Celebration there are a lot of back offices for Disney Corporate and other arms of the company.

Lilofan16 days ago

My error, I meant Animators.

lazyboy97o16 days ago

Do you think Walt Disney Imagineering works on animated movies?

Lilofan16 days ago

Approx 200 WDI cast were fired after the very disappointing release of Treasure Planet back in the day. Cast were based at MGM Studios.

mkt16 days ago

The former Studio and Feature Animation offices?

Batman'sParents16 days ago

And at Hollywood Studios.

JoeCamel16 days ago

The timeframe was 10 years, how long has F&W been happening?? Gee I wonder what started happening about 10 years ago? Hmmmmm

Lilofan16 days ago

If they played a part of theming around Food and Wine it’s a money maker for the park and ever growing.

JoeCamel16 days ago

Are they responsible for what Epcot is today?

lazyboy97o17 days ago

There is already a sizable office in Florida. It’s at Epcot. They started moving beyond just handling small projects over a decade ago.

DLR9217 days ago

Imagineers need to stay in Glendale. However they should invest another satellite office. It was a stupid move on Disney to force imagineers to move to Florida. Why not have two imagineer office? One for west coast and one for Florida.

el_super21 days ago

The decision to invest or not, doesn't really seem like it is one that would necessitate being on site though right? Maybe there is a certain bias you are thinking exists where executives would spend more on their home park? But to be honest, with most of the core exec team being in Burbank, the likelihood is that the people making the financial decisions visit both resorts pretty equally.