Disney has pushed back the timeline to relocate thousands of jobs from California to Florida amid its fight over Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The company’s timeline to move around 2,000 workers in its parks, experiences and products division — which includes a number of Imagineering workers, who are responsible for designing and engineering the company’s theme parks and rides — has been pushed to 2026, the company confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. The Los Angeles Times had previously reported that the move was expected to take conclude by the end of 2022 or early 2023.
In a statement, Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler said that though “a growing number of employees” whose roles will ultimately be based at a campus in the Lake Nona region in Orlando have already made the move, “we also want to continue to provide flexibility to those relocating, especially given the anticipated completion date of the campus is now in 2026.” Wahler added, “Therefore, where possible, we are aligning the relocation period with the campus completion.”
The news arrives just a few months after Republican legislators in Florida passed a bill ending the company’s special purpose district in June 2023, which effectively allows Disney to self-govern on land occupied by the Walt Disney World Resort. In late April, that special purpose district, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, argued that Florida can’t dissolve the district until bond debt is paid off and that it “expects to explore its options while continuing its present operations.”
Disney has not filed a lawsuit, but in early May taxpayers who live near Walt Disney World sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the move. A judge dismissed the taxpayer lawsuit in mid-May, but a similar case was refiled in May in state court.
Florida lawmakers’ action to end the district for Disney followed soon after the company took a stand in opposition to a Florida law banning discussion in the classroom of sexual orientation and gender from kindergarten through the third grade, and has been largely seen as retaliatory. Disney’s delay in making that statement caused its own internal issues, prompting employee organization and a walkout in late March. One of the demands of walkout organizers to Disney leadership to “regain the trust of the LGBTQIA+ community and employees” was to end “any efforts to move employees to Florida office locations, ensuring employee safety and employment retention.”
News first emerged of the relocation of Disney jobs in the parks, experiences and products division in the summer of 2021. The Orlando Sentinel has reported that Disney could receive $570 million in state tax breaks with the construction of its new campus in the Lake Nona region.