DeSantis Be Warned: Disney Pulls $1 Billion Out of Florida

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Bob Iger in black and white and Ron DeSantis in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World

Credit: Inside the Magic

While the Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have been baring their teeth at each other, and DeSantis’ team may have even snapped a few times, Disney just bit back in an unprecedented way.

lake nona florida
Credit: Lake Nona Official Website

Today, President of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Josh D’Amaro announced in a memo to Cast Members that Disney would not be moving forward with a $1 billion plan to move Walt Disney Imagineering from California to a brand new campus in Lake Nona, Florida. Several Cast Members had already either already moved to the state or left their positions to avoid the move. In the memo, D’Amaro said:

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. 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 moving you back.

While D’Amaro did not reference the legal battle between Disney and the state government in his memo, it’s pretty clear to see that “changing business conditions” are likely in response to it. In fact, in a recent earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger did not mince words regarding his position in the battle. Disney is dedicated to investing in Florida, but it won’t hold back if the state government continues to attack them.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looking upset
Credit: Rolling Stone

Iger noted that the company has current plans to invest $17 billion in the state of Florida over the next ten years, which is exactly what the state government should want them to do. Iger ended the statement with a simple question, “Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes or not?”

This move has many fans speculating that Iger is in the “find out” stage of… well, the whole phrase isn’t family-friendly, but you get the idea. Pulling such a massive project that was already in motion and affected the lives of the entire Imagineering department is no small decision, but can you blame Disney for not wanting to invest $1 billion in a state that is actively retaliating against them?

Josh D'Amaro in front of Cinderella Castle
Credit: Orlando Business Journal

At the end of his email, D’Amaro said that he remains optimistic about the direction of the 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.”

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