Disney Delays Job Relocations Following Political Tensions in Florida

The Walt Disney Company was recently involved in a controversy over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation (commonly called the “don’t say gay” bill). This legislation prohibits teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation for kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade as well as in higher grades when the instruction is not considered age-appropriate. The LGBTQ+ community and allies within the Disney company protested the bill and Disney’s initial lack of comment with walk-outs.


When Disney was vocal about its opposition to the bill, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis retaliated by introducing more legislation that dissolved Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. The district essentially allowed Disney World to function as its own private county, but DeSantis has said that now Florida will take control of the district. The political tensions have potentially led to another development, which many think could be Disney’s answer to Desantis’s actions.

Disney currently has plans to move over 2,000 jobs from California to Orlando in order to take advantage of huge tax breaks (totaling over $570 million). The new campus in Florida is called Lake Nona and could cost The Walt Disney Company up to $864 million to build. A previous timeline stated that the campus was expected to open this year, in December 2022. However, it looks like that is not the case anymore.

©Lake Nona

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney has delayed the projected opening of the Lake Nona campus by more than 3 years, to 2026. A Disney spokeswoman said that the delay was “to give people more time and accommodate the construction timeline for the new offices.”

©Scott Cook Photography | Lake Nona

With the current political tensions in Florida, however, many are speculating that Disney is delaying the move because of Gov. DeSantis’s actions. Florida State Representative Anna Eskamani “attributed the decision to Disney’s battle with Florida leaders,” saying, “these culture wars have an economic cost.”


She further stated, “We’ve made the point all along, during debate on this bill, that attacking LGBTQ+ people…is not only just bad politics or ‘culture wars,’ but it’s bad for the economy. It might be good for DeSantis’ base, but at the end of the day, top talent does not want to call a state that supports these policies home.”

The Disney spokesperson did not comment on whether the change in plan was due to the recent political controversy. Although there have been some signs of a potential delay in the Lake Nona campus move, this is the first official timeline update we’ve seen in a while.

Burbank Disney Company Headquarters ©️LA Times

Many employees who are slated to move to Lake Nona from California seem to not be in favor of the change. The Orlando Sentinel reported that “worker morale was low after the transition was announced” and Disney would potentially lose many employees (especially longstanding Imagineers with California roots) who didn’t want to make the move.

The Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California.

In the midst of the “don’t say gay” controversy, California Governor Gavin Newsom tweeted that Disney should keep the jobs in California. He said, “Disney, the door is open to bring those jobs back to California – the state that actually represents the values of your workers.”

Gavin Newsom ©(Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Whether the Disney company is taking Newsom up on that offer or just working through some construction delays is yet to be seen. We’ll continue to watch for more updates on this situation, so stay tuned with AllEars for the latest Disney news.

Click here to learn more about the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

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