Imagineers Will Stay In California-There’s Just One Problem, They Don’t Want To

Disney’s Lake Nona project has been canceled. The $1.3 billion project would’ve relocated 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 their operations from California to Florida. The project was initially announced in 2021, and Imagineers were supposed to have relocated by the end of 2022. That time frame was pushed back to 2026 before the recent announcement that pulled the plug on the whole operation entirely.

Related: Disney’s Lake Nona Project Canceled 

Two weeks ago, Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle sent a letter confirming the project’s cancellation. He cited “change in company leadership and evolving economic and business conditions” as the reason. This indicated that Bob Iger, who is currently back at the helm, was against the move. It also points to the Walt Disney Company’s ongoing feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Lake Nona

Credit: Disney

Related: First Look Revealed for Disney’s Disney Lake Nona Campus

This seems like a “no harm-no foul” business decision. Impacted employees weren’t required to move for another three years. However, some have already made the move! This puts them in a very precarious situation. They’ve moved all the way across the country for their job only to discover their job won’t be there after all. While it seems like just simply moving back would be the solution, many would rather not.

Related: After Disney DelaysLake Nona Plans are Now Imminent 

Those wishing to stay aren’t in the minority either. According to Fox35 news, Realtor Ken Pozek says, “It’s been actually overwhelming the amount of people who have said, no, we love Orlando, and as long as they don’t force us to go back, we plan on staying.” When asked if he was surprised, Pozek said, “I am, especially with how people fought to stay in California when the news originally broke.”

Lake nona

Shutterstock/Joni Hanebutt

We aren’t surprised, though. At least not from a financial standpoint. Florida has no state income tax meaning Imagineers get to keep more of their hard-earned money. Given the high tax rates in California, that must seem like quite the paradise! Poxek also credits a “slower pace of life, great weather, more stuff to do, [and] more affordable [cost of living]” with winning over the already relocated Imagineers.

About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones — so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.