Two large Disney projects in Florida have been canceled—partly due to the corporation’s ongoing feud with Governor Ron DeSantis.
- Disney has been planning to move several divisions from Glendale, California, to a new $1 billion complex outside of Orlando, Florida, at the Lake Nona Center—which has already brought 2,000 jobs to the state.
- Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s head of the parks division, announced on Thursday that the development had been formally canceled, The New York Times reports.
- D’Amaro cites the “considerable changes,” “new leadership,” and “changing business conditions” as the reasons Disney has decided not to move forward with the move. “This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one.”
- Disney also announced the closure of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, an expensive luxury hotel connected to Disney World. The hotel—which costs $1,200 for a two-night stay—will close in September after just 18 months of operation.
Why it’s Important
The governor of Florida has been actively feuding with the state’s largest employer since last spring when leaked videos from Disney staff revealed the desire to spread LGBTQ+ content in children’s programming. The Republican governor responded by threatening to remove Disney World’s special tax status within the state—costing the corporation millions of dollars.
With DeSantis expected to announce his presidential candidacy as early as next week, he has continued to escalate his hostility toward the company, making it his primary target in a campaign against the rise of wokeness that he has taken to other areas of the state as well, imposing new laws on business, education, and the academy to prevent ESG and DEI practices.
The governor is using both his bully pulpit and the power of legislation to turn back progressive efforts to incorporate sexual identity and other non-traditional issues into the school system, particularly when it means teaching those topics to preK, kindergarten, and early elementary-aged children. He feels that Disney executives are fighting him on the efforts and that they are helping to spread the discussion into the schools.
Critics of DeSantis have argued that Disney World ought to retaliate against the state’s aggressive stance—including presidential candidate Nikki Haley, who suggested Disney should move its park to South Carolina. Such a move is impossible, as it would require Disney to sell off and buy billions of dollars worth of expensive real estate. Disney World covers 43 square miles.
The continued hostility between Disney and DeSantis shows both parties are stuck in an unpleasant relationship. Still, both parties have the ability to find ways to harm each other and escalate hostilities, most recently leading to Disney filing a lawsuit against the state.
“We have a huge opportunity to continue to invest in Florida. I noted that our plans are to invest $17 billion over the next 10 years, which is what the state should want us to do. We operate responsibly. We pay our fair share of taxes … So I’m going to finish what is obviously kind of a long answer by asking one question: Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?” says Disney CEO Bob Iger.