Disney’s theme park segment will not be moving its headquarters to Florida after all.
To the surprise of few people who have been following the company and its recent relationship with the Sunshine State, Disney Parks Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced to cast members today that Disney will not be going forward with previously announced plans for a corporate campus at Lake Nona.
“Given the considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project, including new leadership and changing business conditions, we have decided not to move forward with construction of the campus,” D’Amaro wrote in a note to cast members. “This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one.”
Disney no longer will be asking cast members to relocate to Central Florida, and those who have made the move might have the opportunity to return, D’Amaro said.
In June 2021, Disney announced plans to move about 2,000 cast members, including parks management and Imagineers, to a new campus at Lake Nona, near the Orlando International Airport. [See Disney to move theme park division HQ to Florida.]
Disney had been slated to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives from the state of Florida for moving positions from California to the Orlando area. But, as CEO Bob Iger asked last week following legal action between the company and Florida officials, “Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes, or not?”
Disney officials say that the company remains hopeful of sticking with Iger’s announced plans of investing $17 billion at Disney World over the years ahead. And officials reiterated their support for Disney cast in Florida, including Walt Disney World and Walt Disney Imagineering cast members.
Update: Orange County (Fla.) Mayor Jerry Demings responded, “It is unfortunate that Disney will not be moving forward with construction of the Lake Nona campus. However, these are the consequences when there isn't an inclusive and collaborative work environment between the state of Florida and the business community. We will continue to work closely with our valued partners at Disney."
And California Governor Gavin Newsom: "Turns out, bigoted policies have consequences. That's 2,000+ jobs that will be welcomed back with open arms to the Golden State. Thank you for doing the right thing, Disney."
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