In a surprising turn of events, the highly anticipated relocation of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) from California to Florida has been abruptly canceled. The decision comes amidst an ongoing conflict between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, casting doubt on the future of the Lake Nona project.
Imagineers who had already made arrangements or relocated to Lake Nona are now being offered the option to move back to California. The sudden reversal was communicated to employees in a memo released by Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences, and products division.
While Disney has cited “changing business conditions” as the primary reason for scrapping the relocation, many speculate that the decision is also influenced by the contentious relationship between the entertainment giant and Governor DeSantis. The battle between the two parties has been simmering for months, with disagreements over various issues, including COVID-19 safety protocols and taxation.
In the memo, D’Amaro acknowledged the difficulty of the decision, but emphasized that it was ultimately the right one. “This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one,” he stated. He further expressed his commitment to handling the change with care and compassion, recognizing the importance of the dedicated workforce behind the Disney brand.
Despite the setback, D’Amaro conveyed optimism about the future of Disney’s business in Florida, reiterating the company’s plans to invest a staggering $17 billion in the state over the next decade. This ambitious investment is expected to generate approximately 13,000 new jobs, further solidifying Disney’s economic impact in Florida. Presently, the company employs over 75,000 individuals in the state alone.
As for the employees who have already made the move to Florida, D’Amaro indicated that Disney would explore the possibility of facilitating their relocation back to California. The company is keen on ensuring a smooth transition for its workforce amidst the sudden change in plans.
This surprising development was recently communicated to Cast Members, and more information is expected to emerge in the coming days. The future of the Lake Nona project, which was poised to become the new WDI campus, remains uncertain, leaving many within the Disney community eagerly awaiting further updates on the situation.
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.