Earlier this month, Disney announced they were officially canceling the move of Walt Disney Imagineering from Glendale, California to the Lake Nona area of Florida. The cancelation leaves Disney with a 60-acre parcel of land undeveloped.
Lake Nona Property
The land was purchased back in 2021 by Dynamic Campus LLC, a Disney-connected entity. A Memorandum of Repurchase Option filed with Orange County, Florida in September 2021 includes details on how Disney could keep the property.
The agreement between Dynamic Campus LLC and Lake Nona Property Holdings LLC states Disney would have to reach specific construction milestones to avoid a repurchase option. These milestones are at least 250,000 sq ft of gross interior building area by 2028 and at least 500,000 sq ft of gross interior building area by 2031.
This means Disney has until 2028 to develop the land or they will be forced to sell it back to Lake Nona Property Holdings LLC.
Though the move of Walt Disney Imagineering and other departments was canceled, Disney could use the land for another project. However, nothing has been announced.
History of Lake Nona Relocation
Disney first announced its plans to relocate in July 2021. Then CEO Bob Chapek made the announcement, however, it was not entirely met with positive reception.
After the announcement, many employees left the company or transitioned to a position that would not require them to relocate to Florida. Many Cast Members, including Imagineers, urged Disney not to complete the move.
The campus was originally scheduled to be established in 2023, but the full move from California was later shifted to 2026. Some employees have already moved to Florida, while others had to back out of home purchases when the move was shifted. Cast Members who already moved or made arrangements are being offered the opportunity to stay or relocate back to California at the expense of The Walt Disney Company.
Cast Members were particularly outspoken against the move after the passing of the state’s Parental Rights in Education (a.k.a. “Don’t Say Gay”) bill. When then-CEO Bob Chapek finally denounced the bill, Governor Ron DeSantis began to retaliate against Disney. This ultimately led to DeSantis establishing the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors, taking over the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Disney simply cited “changing business conditions” as the reason for the cancellation. The rather polite language used in the announcement may be due to the pending litigation between Disney and the Florida Governor.
Josh D’Amaro — chairman of Disney’s parks, experiences, and products division — released a memo to employees announcing the move was canceled. He said, “This was not an easy decision to make, but I believe it is the right one.”
He reiterated in the memo that Disney is still planning to invest $17 billion in Florida over the next 10 years. This will include 13,000 new jobs. Disney currently employs over 75,000 in Florida alone.
What are your thoughts on the cancelation of the Lake Nona relocation? Let us know in the comments below.