Disney scraps plan to build $1 billion Florida campus

By Reuters22 May 2023

The Cinderella Palace at Walt Disney World, Florida The Cinderella Palace at Walt Disney World, Florida (Image: russell102 via AdobeStock - stock.adobe.com)

Disney has opted to scrap plans to build a corporate campus in central Florida that would have been worth nearly $1 billion.

The campus would have housed 2,000 employees, according to an e-mail to employees on Thursday.

The announcement came amid a widening legal battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the entertainment giant.

Disney parks chief Josh D’Amaro said “leadership changes” and “changing business conditions” prompted Disney to reconsider its 2021 plan to relocate employees to a new campus in Lake Nona.

He added, “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.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney was expected to spend as much as $864 million on the project.

Just a week ago, Disney CEO Bob Iger publicly questioned Florida’s interest in the company’s continued investment.

Disney and DeSantis have been locked in an increasingly acrimonious battle that started in March 2022, when Disney’s then-CEO, Bob Chapek, criticized legislation in Florida that would limit the discussion of gender identity and sexuality in elementary schools.

DeSantis, who is expected to soon announce that he will seek the 2024 Republican nomination for US president, then moved to strip Disney of its long-standing self-governing power over Walt Disney World in Orlando. The governor argued that “woke Disney” should not receive special treatment in the state.

Disney called the move political retaliation over what should be protected free speech and sued the state last month to have the moves reversed.

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