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Disney abandons plans for $1 billion campus in Florida

Disney reportedly said the decision to scrap the office campus was due to "changing business conditions."
Disney reportedly abandons plans for $1 billion campus in Florida
Posted at 3:27 PM, May 18, 2023

Disney no longer plans to build a massive office complex in Florida. 

The company said it's abandoning the plan, which would have brought an estimated 2,000 jobs to the state.

Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Products, wrote a memo to Disney employees, citing "new leadership and changing business conditions" for the decision. 

The campus in Lake Nana would have been the new workplace for cast members and imagineers. 

The move to abandon the project adds to the ongoing feud between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

The company sued the state, claiming DeSantis has engaged in retaliatory practices after Disney leaders spoke out against the Parental Rights in Education bill, which became known by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

In February, DeSantis signed legislation that effectively stripped Disney of its control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The district was created in 1967 and given the same governing power as a county government. It was part of an agreement between Disney and the state to develop 38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swamp land into one of the world’s largest tourist attractions.

SEE MORE: Disney sues Florida Gov. DeSantis after repeal of special district

DeSantis has argued that the previous arrangement gave Disney "preferential treatment." 

Days after the company filed its lawsuit against Florida, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District sued Disney, claiming the company engaged in "backroom deals" when it was stripped of its power ahead of DeSantis' appointees taking over. 

In a statement Thursday, the governor's office appeared skeptical that Disney was ever going to follow through on the Lake Nana project.

"Disney announced the possibility of a Lake Nana campus nearly two years ago. Nothing ever came of the project, and the state was unsure whether it would come to fruition," said Jeremy Redfern, deputy press secretary for DeSantis. "Given the company's financial straits, falling market cap, and declining stock prices, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures."

While Disney is cutting back in at least one aspect of business in Florida, it's not abandoning the state by any means. Disney said it still plans on investing $17 billion in Disney World over the next decade, which will add an estimated 13,000 jobs.

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