Disney was set to build a large campus in Lake Nona, Florida with plans to move over 2,000 employees, including Imagineering. Now, Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro has announced that the whole project has been canceled.
Disney has simply cited “changing business conditions” as the reason for the cancellation.
According to CNBC, Josh D’Amaro — chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences, and products division — released a memo to employees yesterday announcing that the company will not be moving forward with construction of the campus, nor will it be asking the more than 2,000 California-based employees to relocate to Florida. The project was estimated to cost over $1 billion and bring new jobs to Florida.
D’Amaro reiterated in the memo that Disney is still planning to invest $17 billion in Florida over the next 10 years. This will include 13,000 new jobs. Disney currently employs over 75,000 in Florida alone.
This announcement was made amid a legal battle between Disney and the Governor of Florida.
In the memo, D’Amaro states, “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 the construction of the campus.”
He continues, “This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one. As a result, we will no longer be asking our employees to relocate. For those who have already moved, we will talk to you individually about your situation, including the possibility of you moving back.”
The entirety of the memo is below:
I wanted to let you know that we’ve just begun communication regarding our updated plans for the Lake Nona campus.
As many of you know, the company has decided to build a new Disney campus in Lake Nona and many cast members, Imagineers, and employees were asked to commit to making a move to Florida. While some were excited about the new campus, I know that this decision and the circumstances surrounding it have been difficult for others.
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 the construction of the campus. his was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one. As a result, we will no longer be asking our employees to relocate. For those who have already moved, we will talk to you individually about your situation, including the possibility of you moving back.
It is clear to me that the power of this brand comes from our incredible people, and we are committed to handling this change with care and compassion. I remain optimistic about the direction of our Walt Disney World business. We have plans to invest $17 billion and create 13,000 jobs over the next ten years. I hope we’re able to do so.
We are committed to our teams who call Central Florida home and to all our Cast Members around the world, and I want to thank you for your continued dedication to Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products for delivering world-class entertainment for our guests.
Disney vs. DeSantis
The Florida Governor and Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.
Bob Chapek was Chief Executive Officer at the time and initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from cast members and controversy over Disney’s practice of making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.
In an apparent act of retribution over Chapek’s expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of Reedy Creek and the eventual transfer of power directly under his control. DeSantis argues he is attacking a rather vague perception of something he calls “woke politics,” invading the state. He further says he aims to put the people of Florida first through his actions:
The Governor insists he will double down on efforts to punish the resort through methods both in the Legislature and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board. Notably, he promised to hike hotel taxes and institute tolls on the roads around Walt Disney World Resort property. He also threatened to build a prison on Walt Disney World land and signed a bill into law requiring state inspections of Monorails.
A recent poll showed Americans are mostly split about whether or not Disney and Governor DeSantis have behaved “appropriately,” but think the court should rule in Disney’s favor.
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