Based on reports that date back to January of 2021, The Walt Disney Company has begun the process of moving 2,000 jobs from Southern California to Lake Nona, Florida. The positions that are moving include roles that are not fully dedicated to Disneyland Resort, or international parks business. Tim Giuliani, Orlando Economic Partnership President, and CEO estimate that each job will have an average salary of $120,000. The move includes an $864 million investment to build a new campus that’s estimated to be as large as 400,000 square feet and will be located about 20 miles east of Disney World. The total anticipated time to finalize everything is 18 months but the campus won’t be finished for 3 years.
“It’s a big day for Disney,” Giuliani said. “It’s a big day for Lake Nona. It’s a big day for Orlando.”
A big reason for the relocation, according to Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Products, is that it would create a more seamless workflow between Disney’s creative and business departments. Plus, Disney recognizes the importance of operating in a business-friendly climate, especially in comparison to that of California. Florida is just a freer place to live in all aspects at the moment thanks to fewer restrictions on business and personal life. Plus, they could possibly save as much as $500 million on costs for this project in tax breaks.
According to local real estate agents that specialize in the Lake Nona community, Disney’s employees are already starting to make the move and are buying homes although they anticipate it might be a struggle due to Orlando’s booming housing market. Recent housing reports by the Orlando Regional Realtor’s Association indicate that availability has dropped by 39% from the previous year.
The decision to make this move was the first major decision for Bob Chapek, Disney’s new CEO. Many see this as a way to make his mark in light of the overwhelming success his previous two predecessors had in changing and transforming Walt Disney Parks. This is the first move for the Disney Parks division in 66 years and has been in the planning stages since early 2019
Disney has made clear some of the logistic reasons they chose Lake Nona for their relocation. Some of the reasons include infrastructure with great commuter roads, availability of homes, access to high-quality schools, plus, the lack of state income tax.
“As someone who has moved with my family from California to Florida and back again, I understand that relocation is a big change, not only for the employee but also for their families,” says Josh D’Amaro, the recently promoted chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products.
“Therefore, moving these roles to Central Florida will take place throughout the next 18 months, providing flexibility in timing to accommodate individual situations and needs.”
Previously, D’Amaro was the president of Disneyland Resort, a position he held since 2018.
“This new project will create a dynamic environment to support our expanding business — a brand-new regional campus which will be built in the vibrant Lake Nona community of Orlando, Florida,” D’Amaro said, “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.”
With the move, Disney will be joining a long list of large corporations that call Lake Nona home as well, such as Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, leAD, Limitless Minds, SimCom, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, Lilium, Nemours, Signet, Siemens, Beep Mobility Solutions, Chopra Global, Cisco, GE, GuideWell, Hitachi, Signature Flight Support/BBA Aviation, U.S. Tennis Association, Veterans Affairs Administration, Verizon, View and more.