Back in October 2021, Disney announced that it had purchased land in Florida for a new facility for Imagineers. The new facility will be in Lake Nona, which is about 20 minutes from the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney’s plan was to move thousands of Imagineers from its lot in Burbank, California to Florida. The new Lake Nona campus is set to be the hub of Walt Disney Imagineering.
Many Imagineers were not happy to hear that they would need to uproot their lives for a cross-country move after decades in the same place. And now they are even more hesitant to go. Both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida State Senate recently passed the Parental Rights in Education Bill. The bill would prohibit educators from talking about issues like sexual orientation and gender identity in all Kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. Critics have dubbed the bill the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. They have implored Florida Governor Ron DeSantis not to sign the bill. DeSantis has refused to budge on his stance. All signs point to him signing the bill into law sometime in the near future.
When the bill first passed the Florida House, Disney remained quiet. Sources claimed that Disney CEO Bob Chapek did not like bringing partisan issues into the business, as he found them “irrelevant” to the company. Amidst building pressure, Disney finally released a statement, but it didn’t go over well with fans and Cast Members alike. Then Chapek sent a company-wide email saying he stood with the LGBTQ+ community, but that went over just as well as the statement. Finally, Chapek spoke out against the bill, which didn’t sit well with DeSantis. DeSantis hit back at Chapek and now Disney has paused all political contributions to Florida politicians.
Disney has always had a relatively decent relationship with the state of California — one reason the company has stayed there for so long. California Governor Gavin Newsom is using that good relationship to implore Disney to bring its Imagineers back to the Golden State. Newsom tweeted that Disney should bring staff back to the state, as California stands with the LGBTQ+ community. The tweet came along with a link that Disney staff was upset with Chapek and the whole Parental Rights in Education issue.
Disney, the door is open to bring those jobs back to California – the state that actually represents the values of your workers.
Disney, the door is open to bring those jobs back to California – the state that actually represents the values of your workers. https://t.co/kbCi7Zgs90
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 13, 2022
When it comes to controversial policies being passed throughout the country, California has always been on the more liberal side. When former President Trump threatened to cut the state off from federal aid, Governor Newsom stood up and told Trump that the country’s economy needed California more than California needed the federal government. California has also been staunchly opposed to ICE agents hunting people in the country illegally and is considered a “safe-haven” state.
At this time, Disney has not indicated that it intends to pause work on its Lake Nona Campus or if it plans to stop sending Imagineers and other Cast Members to the state.