ORLANDO, Fla. — Amid ongoing tensions in Florida, The Walt Disney Co. has scrapped plans to open a new regional campus in the Lake Nona area of Orlando.

What You Need To Know

  • Disney announced Thursday that it is canceling plans to build a regional campus in Lake Nona

  • The project would have resulted in the relocation of thousands of employees, some of whom had already moved to Florida

  • Disney Parks chairman Josh D'Amaro said "changing business conditions" prompted the decision in an email to employees

  • RELATED: Disney CEO Bob Iger addresses DeSantis 'retaliation' on earnings call 

The company announced plans for the campus in July 2021, saying that it would relocate 2,000 employees, many of them Imagineers, from California to Florida.

When the nearly 60-acre, 1.8 million-square-foot campus was first announced in July of 2021, it was estimated that Disney's investment in the project would have been upwards of $800 million.

In an email sent to employees Thursday, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products chairman Josh D’Amaro said “changing business conditions” were among the reasons the company decided not to move forward with the project.

“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. “This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one.”

When the plan was first announced D’Amaro cited Florida’s “business-friendly climate’ for the project, with the company set to get more than $500 million in tax credit for building the complex.

Some Disney Imagineers already made the move to Florida from California, while some left the company because they didn’t want to relocate their families.

In his email, D’Amaro said the company would discuss options with those who have already moved, including “the possibility of moving you back.”

The decision comes as Disney is in the middle of a battle with Gov. Ron DeSantis, which began last year when the company opposed the state’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, dubbed "Don't Say Gay" by its opponents.

Since then, Florida lawmakers have introduced a number of legislation targeting Disney, including measures aimed at the company’s special taxing district, the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

In April, Disney filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis and the DeSantis-appointed board overseeing the district for what it called “a campaign of government retaliation.”

During an earnings call last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger, who returned to the company in November, slammed DeSantis’ actions and questioned if the state wanted to see more investments from Disney.

“Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes or not?" Iger asked.

D’Amaro said in his email that the company still plans to make major investments in Florida.

"We have plans to invest $17 billion and create 13,000 jobs over the next ten years," he wrote. "I hope we're still able to do so."

In response to Disney's announcement, DeSantis Press Secretary Jeremy T. Redfern released the following statement:

"Disney announced the possibility of a Lake Nona campus nearly two years ago. Nothing ever came of the project, and the state was unsure whether it would come to fruition. Given the company's financial straits, falling market cap and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures."

Disney is in the middle of a "strategic reorganization" that involves eliminating 7,000 jobs across the company to cut about $5.5 billion in costs. The first round of layoffs began in March, followed by a second round last month. A final round is expected to begin before summer.  


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