Disney Parks cancels plans to move jobs to Florida

May 18, 2023, 1:15 PM · 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."

For more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider's weekly newsletter.

Replies (29)

May 18, 2023 at 1:28 PM

lmao this is absolutely hilarious

May 18, 2023 at 2:32 PM

Adding some context, construction contracts related to the Lake Nona project had been awarded to local general contractors.

May 18, 2023 at 2:56 PM

Comments from Imagineers and former Imagineers on social media right now are wild.

May 18, 2023 at 3:54 PM

Big whoops on Desantis’ part.

May 18, 2023 at 5:04 PM

It's not all that it seems. They got an easy out with the mess going on with the governor, but the reality is it was delayed indefinitely after accidentally making agreements on property that wasn't properly zoned for what they intended.

May 18, 2023 at 5:32 PM

I agree that this was not simply a "we changed our mind in the past month because of DeSantis" decision. This move had been falling apart for a while now, from what I have heard and seen.

May 19, 2023 at 12:03 AM

That being said, the optics of it in the press will be that this was purely a retaliation to Desantis. This story makes for much better click bait if framed that way, and news these days is unfortunately all about the clicks.

May 19, 2023 at 5:12 AM

@grant Crawford: Business decisions shouldn't be made based upon possible press spins, I think.

I think the decision was also based upon how attractive it is for creative people to live in such a hostile environment Desantis is creating. California is more open, tolerant, culturally divers in every way than Florida. Were current castmembers willing to move there and would Disney be able to attract new Imagineers if the headquarters were in a kind of cultural and social wasteland?

I don't think people who are used to living a free life would be attracted by having their children indoctrinated by gender stereotypes and hate speech. To not have access to state sanctioned books, to have it forbidden to talk about same sex partnerships or, Godess forbid, a woman's period!

I am curious to see how much of an impact the hate stance of Desantis is already negatively impacting tourism and business in Florida.

May 19, 2023 at 6:53 AM

I knew this place was trouble when imagineers were forced to make a decision to relocate to a campus when it wasn’t even built. Like, I never heard of a relocation when the new office building wasn’t even built. I can’t imagine the reactions of those that relocated to find out that the campus was still a few years away of being built.

May 19, 2023 at 7:35 AM

Dutchduck=pervert

May 19, 2023 at 9:23 AM

Again, more wish casting from those on the left. The lake Nona project was Bob Chapek initiative that Iger wanted nothing to do with. It has nothing to do with DeSantis or Florida being “hostile to business“. Disney is strapped for cash as they have a 9+ billion dollar bill due to Comcast in early 2024 for complete control of Hulu. It made no sense to complete this expensive and internally unpopular move. Same reason Galactic Starcruiser is closing. Why can’t we present/read information without injecting our own personal identity politics and animus (looking at Dutchduck, Thecolonel, Twobits, etc.). I love the site for its theme park info, but the vehement anti-conservative small mindedness is a bit nauseating. Florida as a “waste land“? California as a “free state“? What are you talking about? Disney World in Florida was allowed to open a half year before California allowed Disneyland to open with limited capacity in 2021.

May 19, 2023 at 10:31 AM

I hope this site can stay a safe place for people with different opinions. Calling each other names is not supporting that.
I clearly write : "I think, ..." It's my opinion, my interpretation. It's called free speech without harassing somebody personally except for Desantis, who I think is a wannabe fascist.
What freedom means is clearly different for everyone. For me it's being able to live my life without others telling me it's wrong because I don't fit in their narrow-minded world view.

May 19, 2023 at 10:35 AM

@Smclaugh99 I didn't write Florida is a wasteland. Please don't twist my words.

May 19, 2023 at 1:04 PM

I’m sorry Dutchduck. You said “cultural and social wasteland” when comparing California to Florida. I guess I should’ve included those adjectives in my attribution. Have a great weekend.

May 19, 2023 at 5:41 PM

What’s a conservative viewpoint ? Been trying to figure that out after they skipped having a platform and enabled their leaders to hate, lie cheat and steal at all costs.

May 19, 2023 at 9:25 PM

Tiptop=shill
Disney=woke=broke
Kathleen Kennedy=unemployed
Abortion=murder

May 20, 2023 at 6:48 AM

Still can’t articulate any platform just hate can ya - waiting 123

May 20, 2023 at 11:55 AM

"It has nothing to do with DeSantis or Florida being “hostile to business“. Disney is strapped for cash as they have a 9+ billion dollar bill due to Comcast in early 2024 for complete control of Hulu. It made no sense to complete this expensive and internally unpopular move."

Read up, the move would have saved Disney over $600M in tax breaks. They suspended the move because, like any rational business, they don't want to subjugate their female employees to barbaric, misogynistic laws that deprive them of personal autonomy. They don't want to force LGBTQ employees to live in a place where talk of their very existence can get state employees fired. They don't want to operate in the place where the bigoted, proto-fascist governor violates the Constitution and used the power of the government to retaliate against free speech. Who wants to operate in a place where the leader is a tinpot bully?

This is what the deranged, nihilistic GOP can't seem to get through its head: if you pass bigoted, hateful, anachronistic laws, businesses and reasonable people will leave your state. You'll be left with nothing but sad, pathetic, angry gun-toting Christian nationalists who care only maintaining white hegemony. Florida's on its way to becoming Arkansas, Missippi, or another backwards state that's been ruined by consistently Republican rule.

May 20, 2023 at 1:37 PM

It pains me to say this, but I agree (partially) with Colonel. If there is no one to work at the proposed campus because Californian imagineers don’t want to live in Florida, then no reason to build a campus.

But that’s about as far as my agreement extends.

May 20, 2023 at 7:36 PM

“I believe the children are our future” said no liberal ever (and actually mean it), that’s why they kill, maim, and sexualize children when ever they get the chance. And for Disney to support such a complete lack of morals and values and at the very least fundamental human rights is unconscionable. Who’s deranged and nihilistic (and oh so racist), truly?

May 20, 2023 at 2:45 PM

My parents were somewhat liberal and I have such vivid memories of them always trying to kill, maim and sexualize all the kids in our neighborhood. I never could figure out why no one came to play at our house.

Just wow

May 20, 2023 at 7:01 PM

That’s disgusting. I really do feel for you fattyackin, just not in the same way your parents may have.

May 20, 2023 at 11:19 PM

The one consistent theme I’m noticing in all these comments, and not only here, is that people are doing the same thing the media is and overstating the effects of politics on this decision. More specifically, I think you all overrate how much importance the employees affected place on it, especially compared to all the other aspects of uprooting to move across the country. That’s just not as prevalent an issue, even among those demographics, as most seem to think

May 20, 2023 at 11:19 PM

The one consistent theme I’m noticing in all these comments, and not only here, is that people are doing the same thing the media is and overstating the effects of politics on this decision. More specifically, I think you all overrate how much importance the employees affected place on it, especially compared to all the other aspects of uprooting to move across the country. That’s just not as prevalent an issue, even among those demographics, as most seem to think

May 21, 2023 at 11:48 AM

"I believe the children are our future” said no liberal ever (and actually mean it), that’s why they kill, maim, and sexualize children when ever they get the chance."

LOL, wow bro, turn off the Fox News and touch grass. You brain is so addled with their lies you've lost touch with reality.

Of course, i'm posting from here in San Francisco, a city I'm guessing you falsely believe is dangerous and disgusting because of the Fox News lies that oil your brain. So ta-ta for now, I"m off to the local baby maiming festival where I'm participating in the child sexualization league. haha, imbecile.

May 21, 2023 at 3:42 PM

San Fransisco, haha, I was there four years ago, went to an early afternoon ballgame (it was lovely) and walked throughout the rest of the day in the downtown area, Harbor district, Chinatown, and every street corner on my walk smelled like piss and $hit, EVERY ONE, not one was missed. The homeless were as frequent as mosquitoes in the Everglades. The bums were more prevalent in SF than in Atlantic City, and that’s saying something. Also visited Oakland across the bay and that wasn’t much better.
I went back two years ago (both trips were work related), and I rented a car and parked it near the Wharf for lunch. Those that know, know what happened next. I was at the Wharf for less than 30 minutes, and my car got smashed into. I found two police officers nearby in a store filling out a police report because the store was robbed, and I asked them to file a police report for myself. The officers said the frequent robberies are out of control and they can’t keep up with them all. Again, this all happened in the middle of the day. As I drove back to the airport with a smashed rear window, I also noticed about another 8-10 cars with smashed windows parked along the side streets. As I returned the car to the rental company and explained the situation, they said that it happens all the time, that it’s the norm and IT’S OUT OF CONTROL. These were the residents of SF saying this.
And now many of the big businesses are moving out of SF in droves and many out of California in general. And reparations, seriously? To even believe in this and then to possibly follow through on it? Racist AF! Pretty soon anyone with any money (or decency) will leave SF forever. So yes, SF is F’ed up, douche.

May 22, 2023 at 7:06 PM

Sure, and global warming is a hoax, vaccines are deadly, blue lives matter, Black history is dangerous, Putin is your buddy, AR-15s stop murders, Trump is innocent, feminism is dangerous, woke warriors want to cancel you, and red states are profitable. Whatever you say maga-man, your pathetic bubble of brainwashed idiocy is obvious and hilarious to the rest of us.

May 22, 2023 at 9:04 PM

Ahahahahahahahahaha, prejudice shill! Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

May 22, 2023 at 9:09 PM

It’s too bad that we can’t just find commonality in our love of theme parks, and discuss/debate important things like the best roller coaster, or dining experience, or immersive entertainment offered in the parks. A lot of us come to the webpage to escape the daily political polarization but it’s long become inescapable. Thecolonel obviously lives in his political bubble and echo chamber of the Left just like he hypocritically criticizes those on the right of doing the same. We all know that life and politics is not black or white. There’s a lot of nuance and shades of gray. Hopefully we can be able to listen to other peoples’ points of view without vilifying each other’s character.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Buy Tickets

Visitors Guides

Weekly Newsletter