Disney’s Lake Nona project has been cancelled. The $1.3 billion project would have moved 2,000 employees from California to Florida. Instead, those jobs will remain in the Golden State.
Under Bob Chapek, Disney made plans to move much of its operations from California to Florida. The project was initially announced in 2021, with the Imagineers supposed to have relocated by the end of 2022. That time frame was pushed back to 2026 before the recent announcement completely canceled the entire operation.
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Two weeks ago, the president of Walt Disney World, Jeff Vahle, sent a letter confirming the cancellation of the project. He cited the “change in company leadership and changing economic and business conditions” as the reason. This indicated that Bob Iger, who is now back in command, was against the move. He also takes aim at the Walt Disney Company’s ongoing dispute with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
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This sounds like a “no harm, no fault” business decision. Affected employees were not required to move for another three years. However, some have already taken the plunge! This puts them in a very precarious situation. They’ve moved across the country for their job only to find out their job won’t be there after all. While it seems that simply going back would do the trick, many would rather not.
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Those who wish to stay are not a minority either. According to Fox35 news, real estate agent Ken Pozek says, “It’s been really overwhelming the number of people who have said, no, we love Orlando, and as long as they don’t force us back, we plan to stay.” Asked if he was surprised, Pozek said: “I am, especially with the way people fought to stay in California when the news originally broke.”
However, we are not surprised. At least not from an economic point of view. Florida has no state income taxes, which means the Imagineers get to keep more of their hard-earned money. Given the high tax rates in California, that must seem like heaven! Poxek also credits a “slower pace of life, good weather, more things to do, [and] more affordable [cost of living]” by winning over already relocated Imagineers.