Why the Disney Company’s Move to Florida is Such a Big Deal

Some big changes are in the works for the Walt Disney Company. In early 2021, we learned that Disney acquired a ton of land in Lake Nona as part of a new expansion to bring more of its California employees to central Florida. As the year progressed, more details would emerge about this new campus, including just how many employees would now call Lake Nona home and from which departments.

©Scott Cook Photography | Lake Nona

New offices may not seem like a huge deal, but this move could be signaling some drastic changes for Disney.

Let’s talk about why Disney’s move to Lake Nona, Florida, is something to watch!

Disney’s big move to Lake Nona signals a major shift for employees, specifically those at Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI), and it’s a big cultural shift for those close to or familiar with the company. 

Two members of Walt Disney Imagineering check out one of the “rat mobiles” to be used in the Ratatouille: The Adventure attraction. [The Walt Disney Company]
Disney is moving around 2,000 of its California-based employees to Lake Nona, and the company is likely getting a massive tax break for doing so. According to Orlando Sentinel, “the relocation [was] fueled in part by $570 million in state tax breaks.”

Imagineering Studios © Disney

The impact will be felt in more places than just Disney’s bottom line; according to Orlando Sentinel, reportedly 90% of WDI positions are moving from California to Lake Nona, Florida. This may have a huge impact on the way Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products business segment operates in the years to come.

©Lake Nona

While the full scope of these changes hasn’t been unveiled, Orlando Sentinel has reported that “morale is low among Imagineers,” and several higher-up Imagineers may have resigned from the company entirely because of this move.

Imagineer Kevin Rafferty is photographed while working on a project for Walt Disney Imagineering. [The Walt Disney Company]
Prominent Imagineers who have retired over the past year or so include Kevin Rafferty and Joe Rohde. While their departures may not be entirely due to the move to Lake Nona, the timing only doubles down on a major shift that appears to be happening at WDI.

Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG

With Universal Orlando poised to open its third park, Epic Universe, in the coming years, it’s possible that Disney wants to re-focus the efforts of WDI to central Florida. Only time will truly tell the impact of this move of 2,000 Disney employees across the country, but as we learn more, we will be sure to bring you the latest updates!

Click here to read more about Disney relocating many of their employees to Florida.

Are you planning a Disney World trip for 2022? Let us know in the comments!

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