After this afternoon’s unexpected announcement that Disney is to cancel their planned $1 billion Lake Nona Creative Campus, which among other divisions, would have housed Walt Disney Imagineering, Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle released the following statement to community leaders in Central Florida reiterating Disney’s commitment to the Orlando area.
Dear Community Leaders,
Today, you may have heard the news that Disney is no longer moving forward on the construction of a new campus in the thriving and growing community of Lake Nona in Orlando. Since we first announced this project, several dynamics have changed, including a change in company leadership and evolving economic and business conditions.
Regarding our world-class destination, our desire is to continue investing in our core business in an effort to attract and welcome millions of visitors to Walt Disney World and Central Florida each year so they can enjoy the kind of hospitality our region is known for around the world. Our plans currently call for us to invest $17 billion in Walt Disney World over the next 10 years and create 13,000 new jobs to continue doing our part as a leading employer in the hospitality and themed entertainment industry. We hope those plans will become a future reality.
For decades, we have operated our business responsibly and being the region’s largest taxpayer, we paid and collected over $1.1 billion in state and local taxes during last year alone.
As the largest single-site employer in Central Florida, we are deeply rooted in this community, and we continue to make investments for the betterment of our region such as our contribution of 80 acres of land to create affordable and attainable housing for our community, which we announced last year.
Groundbreaking on this development is targeted for next year, with the first of 1,400 units anticipated to be completed in 2026.
We also continue to invest in our community through our broad array of philanthropic and citizenship efforts. Over the last 20 months, we’ve provided $6.5 million in grants to locally based, non-profit organizations such as Give Kids The World, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Conservation Florida, Heart of Florida United Way, Hope Partnership, The Nature Conservancy and more. This is on top of the donation of millions of hours of time that our Cast Members have contributed to deserving organizations over the decades.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the amazing dedication of the 75,000 Cast Members who call Central Florida their home. To them, we offer the best overall benefits package in the Central Florida hospitality industry, including an $18 minimum wage by the end of the year – which is well above the state’s minimum wage – affordable medical coverage, subsidized childcare, access to free higher education through Disney Aspire our 100% paid tuition programs, and pathways to help Cast at every step of their career.
While today’s decision was not easy, we remain committed to our Cast Members as well as you and our wonderful community.
Walt Disney World Resort
Gray is a lifelong Disney fan! From Disney+ to the parks, he loves it all. His favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast, and his favorite attraction is The Haunted Mansion.