Disney scraps Florida campus amid feud with Republican governor

Photo Courtesy of Bangkok Post

Disney has scrapped its plans for a new employee campus in central Florida, a decision that comes amid the company’s ongoing feud with the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis. The Lake Nona project, which was initially announced in July 2021, was expected to bring 2,000 jobs from California to the region, with an average annual salary of US$120,000. However, due to “considerable changes” since the original announcement, including new leadership and changing business conditions, the project will not proceed, according to a memo from parks chairman Josh D’Amaro.

The conflict between Disney and DeSantis began when the company criticised a law backed by the governor, which bans school lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity. DeSantis, who is rumoured to be launching a bid for the Republican presidential nomination soon, has adopted far-right positions on various controversial issues, such as restricting children’s access to certain books and blocking a new course on Black studies, reported Bangkok Post.

In response to Disney’s criticism, DeSantis removed the company’s control of its special self-governing district in February, which allowed the entertainment giant to manage its own zoning and infrastructure projects without state regulations. The governor also suggested building a new prison near the park, which is part of a massive tourism site that employs 75,000 people and attracts 50 million visitors annually.

Disney, which reinstated Bob Iger as CEO last November, has taken legal action against DeSantis, accusing the Florida governor of engaging in a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” that violates the company’s right to free speech. Earlier this week, Disney requested a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a DeSantis-aligned oversight board.

Former US president Donald Trump has mocked DeSantis’s conflict with Disney, predicting in April that the company would cease investing in Florida or even announce a gradual withdrawal. In a statement yesterday, Trump’s campaign claimed that DeSantis’s feud with Disney has cost the state a significant investment and high-paying jobs “because he was too weak to fight for his state,” while praising Trump as “the Jobs President.”

Despite the cancellation of the Lake Nona project, Disney’s D’Amaro stated in the memo that the company remains “committed to our teams who call Central Florida home.” He also mentioned plans to invest US$17 billion and create 13,000 jobs over the next decade, adding, “I hope we’re able to do so.”

World News


With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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