DeSantis Has Interesting Response to Disney’s Big Florida Exit

DeSantis Epcot Monorail

Every hour, we seem to take another turn in the roller coaster that is the feud between Disney and DeSantis.

From lawsuits and boardroom debates to prison threats and even King Charles III, the battle between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has escalated dramatically over the past weeks.

After Governor DeSantis removed Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District and his board nullified Disney’s agreement to keep control over its property, Disney sued DeSantis – and then DeSantis countersued.

Now, after Disney shocked everyone with the announcement it is pulling out of its Central Florida hub, DeSantis has released an interesting response to the news.

Disney World Signage

Credit: Disney Lists

In what appeared to be a retaliation move on Disney’s behalf, Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products, revealed to Cast Members that Disney will be beginning an immediate move OUT of Florida.

Disney has abandoned plans to open up a new Imagineering campus in Lake Nona, Florida, amid increasing tensions with Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis.

The relocation was criticized by Disney Cast Members when the plans were first announced back in July 2021 by former Disney CEO Bob Chapek. Many Imagineering Cast Members quit, but Disney perservered due to a Florida tax credit that would have allowed the company to recoup as much as $570 million over 20 years.

The new Imagineering complex involved relocating Cast Members from its headquarters in Burbank, California to Walt Disney World, and would have created more than 2,000 jobs in Florida. The campus was originally slated to open in 2022-2023 but was later delayed to 2026.


The press office for Governor DeSantis responded quickly to the news that Disney has abandoned its plans to relocate the Imagineering department, writing:

“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, failing market cap, and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures.”

Interestingly, Governor DeSantis appears to blame Disney for the canceled relocation, claiming Disney’s financial situation is the cause for staying in California. No mention is made of his revenge plot and political boycott against the company for its stance on his Parental Rights in Education law, otherwise called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

In his email to Cast Members, however, Josh D’Amaro hints at the feud between DeSantis and Disney, writing, “Given the considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project, including new leadership and changing business conditions, we have decided not to move forward with construction of the campus.”

The replacement of former Disney CEO Bob Chapek with returning CEO, Bob Iger, is also attributed to the cancelation of the move – as the relocation seemed to be Chapek’s idea.

In March, Disney CEO Bob Iger called Governor Ron DeSantis “anti-business” for his attacks on the theme park giant. Iger made clear that $17 billion in planned investment in Walt Disney World was on the line, saying, “Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people, and pay more taxes, or not?”

bob iger disney ceo

Credit: TIME

The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida appears to now be becoming a central plot of the Presidential Race for 2024. Former Vice President to Donald Trump, Mike Pence, joined in the debate today, telling Fox News, “I like Walt Disney, not Woke Disney.” Will Presidential candidates from now on use their response to Disney as part of their campaigns?

The legal saga of this Florida battle has been a roller coaster to say the least. Just this week, Disney asked a Florida court to dismiss a lawsuit by Governor DeSantis’ board of supervisors. A week after The Central Florida Tourism Board countersued Disney, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that voids the agreements Disney made with the old Reedy Creek board. Disney has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the new board, claiming that, because of the new law, the board’s lawsuit is moot.

We’ll keep you posted on any further updates in this developing story.

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who has worked at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Adventures by Disney! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her husband, an Air Force pilot. Find her children's book at