My WordPress Blog

Amid feud with DeSantis, Disney pulls the plug on $1 billion development


The Lake Nona campus, about 20 miles from Disney World near Orlando International Airport, had been championed by Bob Chapek, who served as Disney’s CEO from 2020 until he was fired last year. Sir. Iger, who came out of retirement to resume Disney’s reins, was much less enthusiastic about the project — even before the company became mired in its battle with Mr. DeSantis. As soon as he returned to Disney, for example, Mr. Iger began telling lieutenants that it didn’t make sense to move Imagineering so far away from Disney’s film studios. As he likes to say, “Creative teams need to be together.”

Sir. Iger has systematically reversed Mr. Chapek’s decisions. In February, for example, he announced that Disney would restructure its internal functions, ending a framework that Mr. Chapek had introduced. In March, as part of sweeping layoffs, Mr. Iger shut down a 50-person metaverse project that Mr. Chapek had started.

Disney is also in the midst of cutting $5.5 billion in costs as it seeks to improve profitability, pay down debt and restore its dividend. Disney shares closed at about $94 on Thursday, down about 45 percent from two years ago.

Mr. DeSantis and Disney have sparred for more than a year over a special tax district that includes Disney World. The fight started when the company criticized a Florida education law that opponents labeled “Don’t Say Gay” because it restricts classroom teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation – angering Mr. DeSantis, who repeatedly promised a refund.

Since then, Florida lawmakers, at the urging of Mr. DeSantis, have attacked Disney — the state’s largest taxpayer — with a series of hostile measures. In February, they ended Disney’s longstanding ability to run its 25,000-acre resort itself as if it were a county by giving Mr. DeSanti’s control of public services at the resort.

It was soon discovered that the former Disney-controlled board had approved development contracts that lock in a growth plan for the resort. An attempt to void those agreements has since resulted in dueling lawsuits, with Disney suing Mr. DeSantis and his allies in federal court, and the governor’s tax district appointees returned fire in state court.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.