$1 Billion Development in Florida Cancelled by Disney Due to Conflict with DeSantis

The Lake Nona campus, located approximately 32 miles from Disney World near Orlando International Airport, was initially supported by Bob Chapek, Disney’s former chief executive who was fired in 2020. However, upon his return from retirement to reclaim Disney’s reins, current CEO Bob Iger was less than enthusiastic about the project, believing that it made little sense to move Imagineering far from Disney’s movie studios. He preferred the saying, “creative teams need to stick together.” In February, Iger announced that Disney would reorganize its internal structure, undoing Chapek’s framework. In March, Iger canceled the Metaverse project, which was launched by Chapek only months before. As part of a broader effort to reduce costs and improve profitability, Disney announced on Thursday its plan to close an underperforming luxury hotel, the “Galactic Starship,” which was opened last year and simulated a two-night trip on a Star Wars spaceship.

Disney’s strained relationship with Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has been ongoing for more than a year, stemming from a dispute over the special tax district surrounding Disney World and a Florida education law that limited classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation. Because of these disagreements, Florida legislators have targeted Disney, the state’s largest taxpayer, in a variety of hostile ways at DeSantis’ request. In February, Disney relinquished its longstanding ability to govern its 25,000-acre resort as a county, giving control of the resort’s administrative services to DeSantis. The move caused a former Disney-controlled board of directors to emerge and approve a development contract that finalized the resort’s growth plans. However, efforts to void those agreements have resulted in lawsuits, with Disney suing DeSantis and his allies in federal court, and the governor’s tax district appointees fighting back in state court.

In conclusion, Disney is currently navigating several challenges, including its efforts to reduce costs and improve profitability, the closure of an underperforming luxury hotel, and ongoing disputes with Florida’s governor.

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