Sunday, May 28, 2023

Was The Disney Lake Nona Project About to Turn Into a Trail of Tears


Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD

Speculation continues to swirl around why Disney decided to cancel the Lake Nona campus project.

The project was in trouble in one form or another almost since the beginning. The plan to relocate some 2000 highly skilled employees from California to Florida was drawing growing opposition from the employee base.

For some additional insight check out: All Ears, By Samantha Kendall Posted in May  2023: What Went WRONG With Disney’s Employee Relocation to Florida.

It looks like the decision to relocate all those California employees to Florida was starting to turn into a modern-day Trail of Tears.

The Lake Nona campus, announced in 2021, was set to host employees from Disney's Parks, Experiences and Products division. The company previously delayed the opening of the campus to 2026. As part of the plans, Disney asked roughly 2,000 Southern California-based employees to relocate to the planned 60-acre campus.

For more insight check out The New York Times Brooks Barnes: Disney Pulls Plug on $1 Billion Development in Florida.

When former and now current CEO Bob Iger replaced Bob Chapek in November of 2022, Iger was faced with many problems, not the least of which was the lingering Lake Nona project.

Never one to miss an opportunity to cast responsibility somewhere other than on the Disney organization, Iger announced the cancellation of the Lake Nona project with a broad hint that the cancellation was due to the declining relationship between the Disney corporation and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Not unexpectedly, the mainstream left-leaning media quickly picked up on this cancellation and began promoting the loss of 2000 jobs and billions of dollars in long term revenues as the result of the DeSantis Disney feud.

I think the facts will bear out that the failure of the Lake Nona project had less to do with the political climate and much more to do with a series of flawed business decisions on the part of the Disney corporation.

Key in that decision-making process was the failure to recognize that while Florida may be a very desirable tax environment and Disney certainly has a large presence in the Central Florida area; Central Florida is just not California. The type of work done by the people who work at Disney's Parks, Experiences and Products Division require both advanced technologically trained employees and highly creative and artistic individuals.

It's always a good idea to know who your employees really are before you start trying to move them in totality clear across the United states.

For now, Iger has done a reasonably good job of at least convincing the media that his decision to pull this huge project from Central Florida was, if not directly, indirectly related to his spat with Governor Ron DeSantis. How well that will play in the political stratosphere remains to be seen.

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Portions of this Post were prepared using an Artificial Intelligence resource 

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