Disney Axes $1 Billion Expansion, Makes Plans to Move Out of Florida

in Walt Disney World

Entrance to Walt Disney World

Credit: Disney

Disney officials have canceled a $1 billion project that was previously set for Walt Disney World Resort.

Known as “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” Walt Disney World Resort welcomes millions of Guests to its four theme parks– Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom– as well as the Disney Spring shopping and dining district, and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park is currently closed for refurbishment but is expected to reopen later this year.

Cinderella Castle from under archway
Credit: Disney

Disney has also been at the forefront of expansion. TRON Lightcycle / Run just opened at Magic Kingdom Park, and Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is set to open in the place of Splash Mountain in “late 2024.” In addition, Disney has already teased major expansions coming to Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but nothing has been confirmed.

Over the last several months, however, Disney has been in battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis amid disputes over the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Disney spoke in opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill last year, and has since come under fire from the Florida government over its self-governing abilities in Walt Disney World Resort.

Disney recently filed a lawsuit against Ron DeSantis and the governor’s newly-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board filed a counter lawsuit against Disney. Though The Walt Disney Company has filed for the lawsuit to be dismissed, neither of the complaints has moved forward in court yet.

Governor DeSantis looking at Disney World Castle; The end of Disney in Florida?
Credit: Inside the Magic

Now, in the midst of these complaints, Disney has decided to pull one major project out of Florida.

Reporter Scott Gustin shared the news that, in an email to staff, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro revealed the massive $1 billion expansion would not happen.

NEW: In an email to staff, Josh D’Amaro says the company decided “not to move forward with construction” of the Lake Nona campus. “This was not an easy decision, but I believe it is the right one.”

The Lake Nona Campus was originally set to house Walt Disney Imagineers, but the project has now been pulled out of the state of Florida. Disney shared in the email that it will no longer be asking employees to relocate to Florida. In addition, the company said it will help pull out those employees who moved from California to Florida in preparation for the project and assist them in moving out of the state and back to California.

Josh D’Amaro did share that Disney “remains optimistic” about the direction of the Walt Disney World business and that the company still has plans to invest $17 billion and create more than 13,000 jobs over the next 10 years at Walt Disney World, finishing by saying, “I hope we are able to do so.”

The full memo from Josh D’Amaro can be read here, from reporter Scott Gustin:

Here is the full memo from D’Amaro to Cast Members.

An update from Governor Ron DeSantis shares the statement from the Florida governor on Disney’s decision. You can read it below:

NEW: Press office for @GovRonDesantis responds to Disney canceling Lake Nona: “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.”

This is a developing story. Inside the Magic will keep you updated on the latest happening around Walt Disney World Resort and much more.

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