For nearly a year, the Walt Disney Company’s Parks, Experiences, and Products Division has been planning to move a large portion of its employees to Florida by 2023. That has relocation date has now been pushed three years. The timing is… interesting.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — who publicly clashed with the company when Disney came out in opposition to the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation and then signed an end to Walt Disney World’s special district privileges — would potentially be ending a second term in office in 2026 if he’s reelected this November.
Deadline shared the official statement from the Walt Disney Company that was given to employees. It reads:
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.
However, Disney told various outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Los Angeles Times, that politics had nothing to do with the decision. (According to the Times, “When asked whether the relocation holdup was related to the DeSantis dispute, the Disney spokesperson said it was not.”)
The sudden change in plans has undoubtedly left many employees who have already uprooted their lives to reside by the Lake Nona campus in a situation that’s not ideal. When the move was announced in 2021, employees were given 18 months to relocate to Florida or leave the company essentially by the campus’ projected late 2022 opening. Now Disney is offering a flexibility period until the completion of the project in 2026 for anyone planning on continuing with their roles at the Walt Disney Company. And it’s no small number of people involved: around 2,000 cast members, Imagineers, and other employees were affected by the campus plans.
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Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.