Disney just pulled out of building a $1.3 billion office park in Florida

Throughout much of my life, people within the Republican Party always maintained that “business” was the most important thing. Corporate interests, business interests and money would always be their priority. They would run on being “pro-business.” They would run on being anti-union (bad for business, they would say) and anti-education (bad for business, they would say) and anti-healthcare (bad for business, they would say). Elect me and I’ll bring jobs to our state. Elect me and I’ll be good for business. Elect me and I’ll put corporate interests over people.

All of this shifted in the Trump era. I actually think it started before Trump, it started during the Obama administration, when Republicans were looking for a way to win elections and “being good for business” wasn’t the slam-dunk narrative anymore. So they leaned into culture wars, all the time, forever and ever. You could even argue that Trump was the transition – dumbasses voted for him because they thought he would be “good for business” when really, they just loved his white supremacist culture wars. After four years of Trump, Republicans no longer keep up the facade of being pro-business. They’re just culture warriors and that’s it. Ron DeSantis is the best example of this evolving Republican brand – DeSantis is a disgusting bigot, misogynist, homophobe, transphobe and racist. He thought he could “punish” Florida’s biggest employer, Disney, as part of his culture wars. Disney fought back and they’re currently suing DeSantis on First Amendment grounds. Now, Disney has just pulled out of a $1.3 billion office complex they were planning to build in Lake Nona. The construction would have brought 2000 jobs to the region.

In March, Disney called Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida “anti-business” for his scorched-earth attempt to tighten oversight of the company’s theme park resort near Orlando. Last month, when Disney sued the governor and his allies for what it called “a targeted campaign of government retaliation,” the company made clear that $17 billion in planned investment in Walt Disney World was on the line.

“Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, said on an earnings-related conference call with analysts last week.

On Thursday, Mr. Iger and Josh D’Amaro, Disney’s theme park and consumer products chairman, showed that they were not bluffing, pulling the plug on an office complex that was scheduled for construction in Orlando at a cost of roughly $1 billion. It would have brought more than 2,000 Disney jobs to the region, with $120,000 as the average salary, according to an estimate from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The project, known as Lake Nona Town Center, was supposed to cost $864 million, but recent price estimates have been closer to $1.3 billion. Disney had planned to relocate as many as 2,000 employees from Southern California, including most of a department known as Imagineering, which works with Disney’s movie studios to develop theme park attractions. Most of the affected employees complained bitterly about having to move — some quit — but Disney held firm, partly because of a Florida tax credit that would have allowed the company to recoup as much as $570 million over 20 years for building and occupying the complex.

D’Amaro’s cited “changing business conditions” as a reason for canceling the Lake Nona project. “I remain optimistic about the direction of our Walt Disney World business,” Mr. D’Amaro said in the memo. He noted that $17 billion was still earmarked for construction at Disney World over the next decade — growth that would create an estimated 13,000 jobs. “I hope we’re able to,” he said.

[From The NY Times]

Death of the pro-business Republican. Death of the republican pol who can promise to bring high-paying jobs to the state. That’s not the Republican party anymore. DeSantis’s spokesperson actually did issue a pissy statement too: “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. 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.” So… DeSantis is arguing that Disney was never going to build the office complex anyway, and Disney’s business is struggling? LMAO. DeSantis is such a f–king clown. I sincerely hope Disney wipes the floor with this dumbass goon in and out of court.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images.

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71 Responses to “Disney just pulled out of building a $1.3 billion office park in Florida”

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  1. Laughysaphy says:

    LOL Ronny is in the “find out” phase of f*cking around! I hope Disney annihilates his presidential run.

    • TOM says:

      In this type of situation, I think of my son-in-law. My son-in-law is the kind of lawyer Disney would hire. He is whip-smart, well-connected, and allergic to losing.

      No one in the family will play board games with the guy. He’s too strategic, too quick, too good. He does not cheat. He does not lose. He wins. Always. You don’t even see it coming, he’s that good at winning.

      This is who Disney hires, Mr. DeSantis. You won’t even know what hit you in court.

      • lamejudi says:

        Yep, this is my brother-in-law. So smart, such an amazing strategist thinker.

        And he’s counsel for one of the big food corporations.

    • VegasSchmegas says:

      Reichtag Ron is gonna go through some things.

      • TheVolvesSeidr says:

        @VegasSchmegas, I love that, lol! I saw someone on twitter call him #ForcedBirthFrodo LMAO

    • AngryJayne says:

      the “find out” phase of f*cking around!

      I love this! Lmfao

  2. TigerMcQueen says:

    Orange Nixon wasn’t the cause, he is the symptom of a party base fueled solely by their fear and hatred of anyone not white, straight, “Christian,” and male. Most of the “big business” republicans have left the party. They cry about the state of republicanism and the people running the GOP, but they’re the ones who thought they could cozy up to right wing evangelicals, and now they’re pushed out by them.

    And DeSantis is more of a clown than I thought. I hope the Mouse crushes him.

    • Bee says:

      IMO it started with the tea party and Sarah Palin.

      House of Mouse is going to dogwalk FloridaMan, and I am here for it.

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:

        @ Bee
        I LOVE your phrasing!!!!

      • Bee says:

        Thanks, Merlin’sMom! Maybe I’ll get the writing gig!

      • MerlinsMom1018 says:

        You got my vote!!

      • Karennotkaren says:

        Bee, yes! And, Paul Ryan & Mitch McConnell, with their vote “no” to everything presented by the Obama administration “strategy”. Of course, Ryan ducked out with a whimper to make a fortune as a lobbyist. They created a party of manipulators, misogynists and destroyers….

      • Jais says:

        Lol, I think it started with Lee Atwater and “big business” was a shield. Palin, the tea party and trump just removed that shield so they could be out and proud racists as Atwater and “big business” Reagan intended. But yes house of mouse may just walk that florida gator man.

    • Becks1 says:

      It actually really started with Reagan. He used social issues to complete the “Great White Switch” of democratic voters (primarily in the south) to Republican. Think of the Welfare Queen stereotype.

      What I will say is that after that, many Republicans pretended to care about business and fiscal responsibility blah blah blah, but it has long been about two things – returning to the 1950s in more ways than one, and lining their own pockets.

      • Dara says:

        The Southern Strategy was created by Republicans in the 50’s and 60’s, they knew even then they were losing their voters to more progressive policies and had to start fighting dirty. The Reagan Republicans tweaked it so it would appeal to white people everywhere in the country, not just former slave states.

  3. ThatsNotOkay says:

    Disney got what it paid for. Let’s not pretend they don’t donate to Republican candidates. Heck, they might have donated to Ron himself! They are a person, don’tcha know. Anyway, they need to start building a nearby park in a nearby state and wind down operations in Florida. Maybe that’ll get Floridians to wake tf up. But I doubt it.

    • OriginalLeigh says:

      Disney actually stopped all donations to GOP candidates in Florida, after DeSantis signed the Don’t Say Gay bill. I think that’s what initially enraged him.

      • ML says:

        This I did not know, OriginalLeigh. At one point Disney was not entirely LGBTQ+ friendly, and my friends were boycotting them. Good to hear that they switched their priorities.

      • Kitten says:

        I mean, I wouldn’t give them too much credit. Disney, like all corporations, only cares about their bottom line and enriching their shareholders. They support LGBTQ rights because they know that’s the popular stance and they don’t want to risk losing business. The end result is a good one for sure, but let’s not pretend their motives are purely altruistic.

      • Betsy says:

        Reddit commenters yesterday were full of vinegar about how only Ron DeSantis could make them be in Disney’s corner and that’s where I am, too. I hate Ron so much with his smug, smarmy, torture supporting face that even though I’m pretty staunchly opposed to Disney, I’m on their side for this.

      • Deering24 says:

        Betsy—I feel them and you. Between DeSantos and the morons whining about a WOC Mermaid, I’m with Disney on all of this —and that hurts to say. 🙄🤣

    • ML says:

      ThatsNotOkay, yeah, there’s a really good chance that Disney helped DeSantis into office in other times. At present, they are “the good guy” in this case because their interests align better with more of humanity’s at the moment.

      • OriginalLeigh says:

        @ML – Disney initially tried to get away with just issuing a public statement of support for the LGBTQ+ community and making a $5M contribution to the Human Rights Campaign. To their credit, the Human Rights Campaign refused to accept Disney’s contribution until they did something to demonstrate true advocacy (because we all know $5M is just pocket change for Disney) and that’s when Disney announced that they were halting all GOP contributions in Florida. So we can all thank the Human Rights Campaign for making Disney deliver on their promises.

      • ML says:

        Thanks for the clarification, OriginalLeigh.

  4. Carol Mengel says:

    This Nazi’s petulant war against Disney is costing Florida taxpayers in lots of ways. The state’s mediocre lawyers are charging $1400/hour to go against Disney. Wtf? Hopefully it’s finally starting to bite him in his substantial ass

    • Laughysaphy says:

      It’s the not the state’s lawyers charging that much, they get paid $30- $60k depending how long they’ve been there. The outside counsel that Ronny has to hire costs taxpayers $1400/hr and that should infuriate all FL taxpayers, but it won’t since they think they’re owning the libs (aka Disney, I guess).

  5. Chantal says:

    For repubs, capitalism used to be king, and the only king they would serve. Except capitalism doesn’t work for greedy would be tyrants playing identity politics. And too many people that they seem unacceptable have a slice of that pie, that they feel shouldn’t, hence the constant attacks on education and voting, and the recent obsessive dismantling of anti discrimination workplace policies in state funded institutions. This is where the federal govt needs to start enforcing those federal laws and the them into funding those state programs. Money is the only language the understand. Otherwise, things will keep getting worse the more imbeciles like him get elected into office and the attacks on our democracy grows more vicious.

    For deSatan and his ilk, Disney is too liberal and powerful. They have forgotten it also has extremely deep pockets. That whole “corporations are people too” bs law is coming back to bite them in the azz. Other pro repub organizations better pay attention to what’s happening in Florida bc they could be next and they don’t have the deep pockets nor attack dog legal apparatus that Disney has.

    • Kitten says:

      Yes all of this. I never thought I’d see the day where the GOP turns on corporations but nothing scares them more than marginalized folks getting a chance to secure basic human rights and a modicum of upward mobility. And they will gladly make an enemy of any corporation that attempts to support/further that agenda.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Yes, I was raised by Republican parents, and I never thought in a million years, they’d pick up culture wars as their platform. What happened to Capitalism? Small government? Infrastructure? Security? What a shame, because those things carry great importance.

    • Msgermss says:

      What I like about people who comment is the venom they spew! Mr. Reagan was far superior to any GOP or Dem candidate at that time and won by a landslide. That “landslide” included NON-SOUTHERN states. Hm…could it have been they saw the promise Reagan represented and how he made the country better than before. I have never seen that come from a Dem president in recent history,
      including Obama. Now Slow Joe is in the Oval Office destroying the country. He is the same person who said a president who governs through Executive Order is a dictator. Gee, Joe just described himself and his fellow Dems.

      • Gabby says:

        Reagan in 1980 did not run on moral issues (other than patriotism). If he was a bigoted as DeSantis (and I don’t think anyone is), he kept it under wraps.

        Reagan ran on the economy and national security. Americans were shaken by inflation and the Iran hostage crisis.

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        msgermss, I remember very differently when it comes to Reagan. For one, he’s the “trickle down” economy president (Reaganomics). We all know that what that does is lower taxes on the rich and move more tax burden to the middle and lower class in the US. That was the beginning of widening the divide between the 1% and the rest of us and increases the debt. Reagan is the one that kept preaching deregulation. And Republicans have been doing everything they can to deregulate EVERYTHING. Look how that’s turned out with the banking industry. Those failures would have been avoided if deregulation of that industry (and investments, too, I believe) had not happened. Reagan was the one who released mentally ill patients to live on the streets, cut funding and we still live with this today. That’s just a sampling of what Reagan did.

        Sorry, but I can’t think of Reagan fondly.

      • Jais says:

        I’m with @saucyandsassy

      • Carey says:

        I’d rather they spew venom than misinformation and historical revisionism…….But that’s how you roll, right, Msgermss?

  6. Nicole says:

    The very definition of FAFO

  7. AF says:

    The only thg more ruthless than a petty bigot is a Fortune 100 corp. My money is on Disney. Let’s gooooo! 😀

  8. AmelieOriginal says:

    Not sure how many people pay attention to LinkedIn but many companies, especially tech, have been having layoffs. It’s all I see on my LinkedIn nowadays. I used to work for an Amazon subsidiary, my former coworkers got laid off earlier this year. Disney was no exception and there have been several layoffs this year with about 4000 employees being laid off. Another round of layoffs is expected this summer with the total projected to be about 7000. So I don’t think this is mostly about DeSantis. This is a cost cutting measure to save money, first and foremost.

    • Pinkosaurus says:

      The prior Disney Chairman who was fired wanted to move the Imagineers to Florida and Iger disagreed and wants to keep them together in California, so I think that was the core reason for the cancelation, but the timing is perfect to twist the knife.

      • HuffnPuff says:

        I was going to say the same thing. This isn’t any financial hit to Disney. They cancel projects all the time. Iger also said that Desantis had crossed a line and this is the result. The previous head of Disney made people move to Florida for this already and fired anyone who refused. Disney is now offering to pay people’s moving expenses back to CA. This is about the destruction Desantis has done to FL. Creatives are mostly pro gay rights and pro women’s rights so no one wants to move themselves let alone their families to a crummy state that cares more about chasing imaginary bogeymen than real problems that impact their citizens. Desantis is showing us what he and other Republicans wants to do to this country. I hope everyone who can vote is paying attention.

  9. Brassy Rebel says:

    DeSantis has been trying to position himself for president by arguing that he’s less problematic than Trump. But he’s done nothing but stumble and bumble his way through this year. I’m hoping he and Trump cancel each other out with their debacles.

    • Deering24 says:

      Thank goodness he—and his awful Disney-villian wife—are messing up. I was afraid he’d prove savvier than Trump, which is all he would need to do.

  10. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    He just reminds me of an over tired, over stimulated 3 year old who missed his nap.

    Also: I hope (if it goes to trial) EVERY single Disney character shows up. In full costume.

    Granddaughter #2 said maybe Disney oughta make a commercial with the current and most popular characters using sad voices and frowny faces explaining that mr. desantis is a not very nice man and why. Thus making the little critters (her words) run to Mommy and/or Daddy and wanting to know WHY

    • schmootc says:

      I’ve not watched him talk much, but there is that one press conference where he’s shaking his head and saying maybe we’ll do this and that about Disney that definitely has a temper-tantrum vibe to it.

  11. AnneL says:

    If you haven’t seen SNL’s Bowen Yang doing a bit as Jaffar from “Aladdin” on Weekend Update, mocking Governor Ron for trying to get Disney to change its Gay-Friendly policies, do yourself a favor and watch it! It’s hilarious.

    Am I allowed to post a link here?

    • DeeSea says:

      @AnneL Thanks so much for the tip. I just went and watched it (twice!) and I love love loved it. Bowen Yang is an absolute delight. And that segment felt truly cathartic.

    • Felicity Fox says:

      AnneL, I have been able to post links with no problems.

    • Normades says:

      Bowen is a national treasure and that skit about not being able to take the gay out of Disney was fire. Then he ended by pointing out that DeSantis got married at Disney which is ‘the gayest thing ever’’.

    • Glamarazzi says:

      Thanks for recommending that video, it was hilarious! The BOOOOYYY.

  12. Mavel says:

    Celebitchy, thank you for covering this. I know this is a celebrity news spot and not a news news spot, but can you please cover the new trans hate laws Florida signed on Wednesday (forbidding trans people from using appropriate restrooms in any public building including schools and prisons, harshly restricting essential healthcare to trans kids and adults and more)? Alerting people to the magnitude of what’s happening there is such a valuable action of allyship. (More here https://www.them.us/story/ron-de-santis-anti-trans-bills)

  13. Eurydice says:

    This is definitely part of the story, but not all of it. The Disney office park was supposed to have been finished, but the company had already postponed it to 2026. With interest rates where they are, laying off 7,000 employees, streaming in trouble and the writers’ strike, Disney has some financial issues to think about. Also, the deal that was made with Florida many years ago created a district in which Disney can act as a separate state and pretty much do whatever they want – that’s been an issue for a long time, too.

    • AmelieOriginal says:

      I said the same above too. This is all about saving money, it isn’t a coincidence that in the same year Disney is experiencing mass layoffs that they canceled this huge construction project. I see it has having nothing to do with DeSantis. Disney’s bottom line is saving money, not sticking to DeSantis.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      There’s definitely more context, but I love that every Disney headline is going to make DeSantis look foolish. He’s not fit for leadership.

      • Seraphina says:

        And the vast majority of the public does not do due diligence to research and find out more – they read the headline and try to connect the dots with what they are being fed. Unfortunately for Ronald McDonald DeSantis it reads like Disney is indeed making him Finf Out.

    • olliesmom says:

      So many people are too lazy to research that, so if it makes DeSantis looks bad so be it.

  14. phlyfiremama says:

    Most of the 2,000 jobs were for transplanted Californians? So FL wasn’t actually gaining many/any jobs other than construction crews. 🤷‍♂️

    • TigerMcQueen says:

      Florida was gaining citizens who would spend good $ there, which would spur more job growth. Too bad, so sad.

    • Concern Fae says:

      And the employees were refusing to go. I worked at a university where Disney heavily recruited for Imagineers. The problem with Orlando is that, aside from the terrible politics of Florida, there aren’t non-Disney jobs for spouses. LA has universities, the film industry, aerospace. It’s easier for an imagineer to find another job in LA than their professor husband or defense contractor wife somehow work in the Orlando area.

      These tax incentives that states hand to businesses to relocate need to end. It ends up meaning taxes on ordinary people go up, money for schools and roads is gone, and it all just goes to CEO pay and stock buybacks.

    • Barb Mill says:

      With his new anti-immigrants law going into effect soon many of them have left the state leaving current construction sites with no workers.

  15. HeyKay says:

    I hope Disney ruins Ron D.
    Stop him in in his tracks.
    Team Mouse on this.

  16. GorgeousGecko says:

    None of the Imagineering staff wanted to move from SoCal to Florida. They hated the idea. So this is a win win for Disney to be honest. They get their employees to settle down AND kick sand in DeSantis’ face.

  17. Diamond Rottweiler says:

    One of the biggest scams the GOP has ever perpetuated is selling Americans on the idea that the economy does better under Republicans. It’s verifiably, statistically not true, but they’ve owned that message since at least post WWII. I so wish the Dems would spend all day every day countering this fake narrative with specific advertising played during football, NASCAR, & traditional news hour. We need people to feel economically aspirational toward the Democratic Party and this is the message and method for it.

  18. Rnot says:

    I loved the listing of the additional $17 billion worth of planned construction and 13,000 jobs. What a threat.

  19. schmootc says:

    That is an impressively pissy/petty statement from that creep about the project being canceled. You can’t break up with me, I break up with you! And besides, you suck!

  20. olliesmom says:

    I don’t normally root for a large multinational corporation, but I’m Team Disney on this one.

    I’m hoping that the people of Florida wake up soon and see who this clown really is.

    Ron wants Florida to go back to “the good old days”. I would love to see Florida return to pre-Disney when it was all nothing but swamp land.

  21. PNW says:

    A good friend is an Imagineer. People in their 30s with PhDs have no interest in moving from SoCal (which does have its problems, but also tons of amenities) to “every day it’s more like Gilead” Florida.

  22. AC says:

    It was exciting to see a day or so ago that a Democrat candidate was voted in to be mayor in a city in Florida that’s historically voted for GOP. Florida is a mess. Desantis is anti-immigrant . What good did that do to Florida – No one is working to harvest farms , shelves are empty as truck drivers are boycotting deliveries in Florida, construction is at a halt as no one is working to finish projects , a hotel had to close as 1/2 his staff isn’t working . I’m so sorry for the smart voters who didn’t vote for Desantis but their neighbors who did vote for him are complete morons . They got exactly what they voted for and Florida is paying heavily for it . Desantis is just another Trump part 2 he’s just as narcissistic and only cares about Himself – looking at his own interest . Vote Blue . The Republican Party these days are mostly dictators who just want power for themselves . They don’t care about people or democracy.
    And I’m glad Iger taunted Florida with a – do you want more taxes, jobs, investment in your state or NOT?
    I’m sure that hurt those idiots.

  23. Gabby says:

    I live in a state with “open” primaries, meaning I don’t have to prove what party I am in when voting in the primary election, I just request either the Republican or Democrat ballot when I show up.

    So in 2024 I will vote in the GOP primary just to muck it up. The dilemma of course is which GOP shithead will do the worst in the general election? I am torn between the Cheeto and this redneck thug DeSantis. Ideas and advice are welcome.

  24. j.ferber says:

    That asshole DeSantis will continue to wreak havoc in Florida until he gets the presidential nomination. Then he’ll try to do all of this to the country as president. Why battle a major business/money-maker like Disney for political points? Aren’t Republicans supposedly pro-business? Is he trying to bankrupt Florida? Why is he dictating what can and cannot be taught in public schools and colleges? What governor does that? He is inimical to business, education and civil rights. A disgrace.

  25. HeyKay says:

    Ron D. he is starting to worry me the more steam he picks up for his run as POTUS.
    Here is hoping Disney stops him in his tracks. Use all the House of Mouse power and lawyers needed.