- Disney scrapped plans to open up a new $1 billion campus in Florida on Thursday.
- According to the New York Times, hundreds of Disney employees had relocated to Florida already.
- They’ll be offered the option to move back to California, internal messages show.
At least 200 Disney employees had made the move from California to Florida for the company’s projected new campus, which was axed on Thursday after the company’s spat with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reached a fever pitch.
Disney announced the plans to scrap the $1 billion complex in an internal email on Thursday, a week before DeSantis was expected to announce a presidential run. Amid an ongoing legal battle with DeSantis, the company said that 200 employees had already moved to Florida from California, but that they would be offered an option to move back, Disney chairman Josh D’Amaro told employees in an internal email seen by Insider, first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
“For those who have already moved, we will talk to you individually about your situation, including the possibility of moving you back,” D’Amaro said in the email.
According to the New York Times, at least 1,000 employees were set to be relocated to the campus, named Lake Nona Town Center. The employees largely work in a department that collaborates with the company’s movie studios to design theme park rides. Many of them were disgruntled about the move, per the Times.
Though DeSantis was not mentioned in the email, sources privy to conversations among Disney’s top brass told the Times anonymously that DeSantis’ crusade was a major factor in the decision to pull back.
Disney World currently employs 75,000 people in the state, and the new campus would have brought another 2,000 jobs to Florida.
Disney did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The fight between DeSantis and Disney kicked off when Disney spoke out against a Florida law that clamps down on lessons related to sexual orientation and gender in public schools. The spat intensified after a DeSantis-appointed board took control of Disney’s special tax district. Disney sued the board, which later countersued, and the cases are now in the courts.
“While some were excited about the new campus, I know that this decision and the circumstances surrounding it have been difficult for others,” D’Amaro said in the email, according to Journal. “Given the considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project, including new leadership and changing business conditions, we have decided not to move forward.”
DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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