ORLANDO, Fla. - The Walt Disney Company plans to relocate 2,000 jobs from California to Central Florida.
Josh D’Amaro, the chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products (DPEP) shared the news in a letter to employees describing a brand-new regional campus to be built in the Lake Nona community of Orlando.
"With more than 60,000 Cast Members, Imagineers, and employees, Central Florida has long been home to many of our businesses including the Walt Disney World Resort and most of our Disney Signature Experiences team," D'Amaro wrote. "It is also where members of other DPEP businesses reside, including Consumer Products, Games and Publishing, and Walt Disney Imagineering, and serves as the hub for many support functions that assist our segment and the entire company."
D'Amaro said expanding the already significant DPEP footprint in Florida "makes sense."
"The Walt Disney Company has always been a strong community partner and leader," added Orlando Economic Partnership President and CEO Tim Giuliani, calling the Lake Nona area, "one of our region’s premier centers for innovation."
According to D'Amaro, the relocation will take place throughout the next 18 months.
Lake Nona is a mixed-use, planned community that is owned and developed by the Tavistock Development Company. It is located just south of the Orlando International Airport and approximately 15 miles east of Walt Disney World Resort.
"With Disney’s move and large investment in our community, we are delighted to welcome one of the world’s most recognized brands to Lake Nona," said Nick Beucher, President of Tavistock Development Company. "By choosing to build a new regional campus in Lake Nona, Disney will become part of this smart city where cutting-edge ideas turn into realities."
Lake Nona Town Center courtesy of Lake Nona.
The potential move makes Disney the latest in a growing number of companies considering moving some or all of their operations out of California, which had of the strictest lockdown measures in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the pandemic, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has lambasted California's handling of the pandemic, calling the rules in place "arbitrary."
Disney has informed FOX 35 News that this particular move of jobs to the Orlando area has been in the planning stages since 2019 and has nothing to do with the pandemic.
With any move, there are logistical challenges for exporting some operations from California though. For example, some TV programs and films have been shot at Disney's Orlando facilities, but the bulk of its studio production operations are on its 51 acre Burbank lot for ease of use to the Hollywood filmmaking community.
FOX 35 is working to obtain more details on the move.