In the wake of Ron DeSantis’ retaliation against Disney for speaking out about his discriminatory “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Disney has delayed relocating 2,000 high-paying jobs from California to Florida.
This comes after DeSantis pushed through politically-motivated legislation to punish Disney for speaking out.
The Walt Disney Company has officially said the delay was made “to give people more time,” with the office and jobs, originally slated to be operational in December, getting delayed until 2026.
My own understanding from talking to several sources on background is the following:
- Many higher-level Disney employees based in California do not want want to relocate to Florida. This goes along with what has been often articulated on these pages – Florida’s growing hostility to culture, urban parks, public transport, etc has turned off a lot of young professionals, particularly creative types. Moreover, Florida’s recent jump back into leadership of the culture wars led by Governor DeSantis has further soured folks on Florida.
- Disney management is hedging a bit, hoping for a change in political climate in Florida before 2026.
- It’s also the case where Disney is increasingly more of a media company than a amusement park business. While Miami was an emerging media hub a few years ago (and one where Disney invested heavily in Fusion, a failed TV channel you might remember- Disney sold its stake in 2016 and the channel shut down in 2020 – in the interest of full disclosure, I did some work for them in 2014) it has stagnated and Los Angeles remains a far better place to be. Besides these jobs were going to Lake Nona in Orange County not Miami. So there is that also.
- The cost of living in Florida has spiked since Disney made its initial announcement. This has given further pause to the idea of relocation.
Despite big talk, we’ve discussed over and over at TFS, that Florida’s GOP has actually driven away more high-end professional jobs than they’ve attracted. And this isn’t a red/state blue state thing as plenty of other red states have created a business-friendly environment without the performative aspects of Florida’s GOP that attracts business relocation’s.
Also, it must be noted, Florida’s unwillingness to invest in transport beyond building more and more toll roads contributes to these problems.
Anyway, Disney’s decision is yet another defeat for Florida.