TIMES.KY

Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Thursday, Jul 18, 2024

Disney scraps $867m Florida plan amid Ron DeSantis feud

Disney scraps $867m Florida plan amid Ron DeSantis feud

The Walt Disney Company has scrapped a plan to invest nearly $1bn (£806m) to build a new corporate campus in Florida, it announced.

The reversal comes amid an escalating feud between the entertainment giant and the state's Republican-led government headed by Ron DeSantis.

The plan would have seen about 2,000 employees relocate to a Disney-owned complex at Lake Nona, near Orlando.

Mr DeSantis' office has called the announcement "unsurprising".

The cancellation was announced in an internal email to employees on Thursday.

The email, seen by BBC News, said the company's decision was the result of "considerable changes" that have taken place since it was first announced.

In the email, Josh D'Amaro, the head of Disney's theme park division, also referred to "changing business conditions".

While the email does not mention politics or Mr DeSantis, it has been interpreted as alluding to mounting tensions between Disney and Florida lawmakers.

"Disney announced the possibility of a Lake Nona campus nearly two years ago. Nothing ever came of the project, and the state was unsure whether it would come to fruition," Mr DeSantis' office said in a statement.

"Given the company's financial straits, falling market cap and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures."

The internal Disney email noted that the decision to scrap the project comes after "new leadership" at the company, referring to ex-CEO Bob Chapek, whose sudden departure in November shocked Hollywood.

The Lake Nona campus, which had not been built, would have been a new home for employees at the firm's secretive theme park research and development arm, known as Imagineers, who were asked to move from California to Florida.

Mr D'Amaro's email said relocation would no longer be required and it would discuss next steps with those he said had already done so.

Many of the jobs that were supposed to relocate to Florida were higher paid, white collar and tech-focused positions.

The Orlando Business Journal reported the project was valued at about $867m and that the average annual wage for the positions was $120,000.

Bob Iger, the former chief executive who made a stunning return to replace his successor, Mr Chapek, has announced sweeping changes to boost the firm's business, which has come under pressure as the traditional movie and television industries decline.

Disney launched a streaming offering, Disney+, in 2019, but it remains loss making.

Unlike other media companies, Disney has been shielded by the popularity of its theme parks, which have kept the firm profitable.

But the value of its share price has halved since peaking in March 2021, as investors predict a tough road ahead.

Earlier this year, Mr Iger announced a plan to save $5.5bn, involving a sweeping reorganisation of the company's operations and roughly 7,000 job losses.

Among the cuts, announced separately on Thursday, was the closure of a 100-room Star Wars-themed immersive hotel experience at one of its Florida theme parks.


'More than Disney'


The relationship between Disney and Florida - where it employs more than 70,000 staff - began deteriorating last year after Mr DeSantis condemned the company for opposing a state law banning discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools.

In April, Florida also moved to take control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District - covering the 25,000-acre area known as Walt Disney World - a self-governing zone, with utilities and a fire department.

State lawmakers voted to give Mr DeSantis the power to appoint members to the district's governing board, removing that authority from landowners, of which Disney was by far the biggest.

The move prompted a lawsuit from Disney, accusing state officials of conducting "a relentless campaign to weaponise government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain state officials".

Days later, Florida filed a countersuit against Disney.

Disney's parks in Florida have long been one of its most-popular attractions, bringing in about 50 million visitors each year.

In a call with investors a week ago, Mr Iger questioned Florida's interest in having Disney grow in the state.

"Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes, or not?" Mr Iger asked.

Aubrey Jewett, a politics professor at the University of Central Florida, said he believed Mr DeSantis and his allies "did not think about the longer-term ramifications of their actions" when they moved to "punish Disney for speaking out".

"They weren't going to move the Disney World complex someplace else. But as Disney has just shown, that's not the only investment and jobs they were talking about creating in Florida."

Erin Huntley, the chair of the Republican Party in Orange County, where Disney World is located, said "it's a different ballgame" now compared to when Walt Disney first realised the area's potential in the 1960s.

"People are still wanting to come here, no matter what battles are going on," she told the BBC. "Central Florida is more than just Disney."

Mr DeSantis is expected to announce a 2024 presidential bid next week. His likely rival, Donald Trump, said in a statement that Mr DeSantis was being "absolutely destroyed by Disney" and that his "political stunt" of battling them was "all so unnecessary".

Newsletter

Related Articles

TIMES.KY
0:00
0:00
Close
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Israel: Unprecedented Civil Disobedience Looms as IDF Reservists Protest Judiciary Reform
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Italian Court's Controversial Ruling on Sexual Harassment Ignites Uproar
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
BBC Personalities Rebuke Accusations Amidst Scandal Involving Teen Exploitation
A Swift Disappointment: Why Is Taylor Swift Bypassing Canada on Her Global Tour?
Historic Moment: Edgars Rinkevics, EU's First Openly Gay Head of State, Takes Office as Latvia's President
Bye bye democracy, human rights, freedom: French Cops Can Now Secretly Activate Phone Cameras, Microphones And GPS To Spy On Citizens
The Poor Man With Money, Mark Zuckerberg, Unveils Twitter Replica with Heavy-Handed Censorship: A New Low in Innovation?
Unilever Plummets in a $2.5 Billion Free Fall, to begin with: A Reckoning for Misuse of Corporate Power Against National Interest
Beyond the Blame Game: The Need for Nuanced Perspectives on America's Complex Reality
Twitter Targets Meta: A Tangle of Trade Secrets and Copycat Culture
The Double-Edged Sword of AI: AI is linked to layoffs in industry that created it
US Sanctions on China's Chip Industry Backfire, Prompting Self-Inflicted Blowback
Meta Copy Twitter with New App, Threads
The New French Revolution
BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Application Refiled, Naming Coinbase as ‘Surveillance-Sharing’ Partner
×