UNITED STATES: In light of its ongoing court battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Walt Disney Co. announced on Thursday that it is renouncing a project to build a nearly $1 billion corporate campus in central Florida that would have accommodated 2,000 workers.
Josh D’Amaro, the head of Disney Parks, asserted that “changing business conditions” had compelled the company to seriously reconsider its 2021 process of transferring staff, including its Imagineers who build theme park rides, to a new facility in Lake Nona.
The campus, which would have served as the headquarters for Walt Disney Imagineering and the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products division, was expected to cost the company up to $864 million, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
D’Amaro wrote, “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 the construction of the campus. This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one.”
Since March 2022, when Disney’s then-CEO, Bob Chapek, excoriated Florida legislation that would restrict discourse of gender identity and sexuality in primary schools, Disney and DeSantis have been deeply involved in an increasingly bitter conflict.
Florida’s Governor, DeSantis, moved to deprive Disney of its long-standing independence over Walt Disney World in Orlando. DeSantis will soon declare his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. He added that “Woke Disney” shouldn’t be given special treatment in the state.
Disney CEO Bob Iger publicly brought into question Florida’s willingness for the company to continue wanting to invest in the state a week ago.
In a convention call with investors intended to discuss the quarter’s results, he discussed that Disney employed more than 75,000 people in Florida, managed to bring millions of visitors to Walt Disney World every year, and $17 billion expanding the resort over the following ten years.