Almost a year and a half ago, Disney announced that they had purchased land in Lake Nona, Florida. The plan was to build a massive campus that would be the main home of Walt Disney Imagineering. Right off the bat, the news was a controversial one amongst Disney Imagineers who had been living and working in California for decades — since Walt Disney created the Company, really. The choice to move to Lake Nona became even more divisive when it was made clear that — for many Disney employees — that if they did not want to move to Lake Nona, then they would have to quit.
The choice between moving or quitting cost Disney many incredibly talented Imagineers. However, the company pressed forward and continued work on the campus. Lake Nona came back to the forefront of the Disney conversation when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights In Education Bill into law. The bill — also called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — was thought by many to unfairly target the LGBTQ+ community. After intense pressure, Disney spoke out against the bill, which ignited a heated battle between Disney and DeSantis.
The fight between Disney and Governor DeSantis seemed to reach a peak when DeSantis signed a bill into law dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement Act — a move that essentially strips Disney of its self-governing status. Disney had remained relatively quiet about the move, until now. Disney has announced that they were pausing the move to the Lake Nona Campus by about 4 years.
When announcing the pause, Disney made the following statement:
While a growing number of our employees, who will ultimately work at the campus, have already made the move to Central Florida, we also want to continue to provide flexibility to those relocating, especially given the anticipated completion date of the campus is now in 2026. Therefore, where possible, we are aligning the relocation period with the campus completion.
Thousands of Disney Cast Members were vocal in their disappointment in the way Disney handled the Parental Rights in Education Bill. So, asking them to move to a state that is targeting LGBTQ+ Cast Members may not be considered the best idea. We also don’t know what will happen with the Reedy Creek Act — which is supposed to go into effect on June 1, 2023. It is possible that Disney is considering all of its options before pushing full force back into Lake Nona — which is less than 10 miles from Walt Disney World Resort.