Disney is pulling out of a $1 billion investment in Florida amid DeSantis feud
The Walt Disney Co. said it is pulling out of a roughly $1 billion investment in Florida, citing "changing business conditions." The media and entertainment giant announced the move amid a year-long feud with the state's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, after Disney publicly opposed his bill to limit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.
In a memo sent to Disney employees, Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, said that the company isn't moving forward with its plans to build a new Disney campus in Lake Nona.
The decision to scrap the development comes less than a week before DeSantis is expected to announce his presidential campaign. On Friday, the editorial board of the Miami Herald wrote that national voters should take Disney's cancellation of the project as a warning, noting, "Floridians are the losers here. We've lost jobs and investment, and we could lose even more, all because DeSantis picked a petty fight with Disney."
The Lake Nona complex would have included several buildings employing 2,000 Disney workers that would have been relocated from California to Florida.
The decision to scrap the Lake Nona campus also comes as Disney cuts more than $5 billion in costs, with CEO Bob Iger seeking a "transformation." But Iger recently mulled on an investor conference call about his company's frayed relationship with Florida, which led to Disney suing DeSantis last month, alleging that the governor had overseen a "targeted campaign of government retaliation."
"Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes, or not?" Iger mused on the May 10 conference call.