Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Disney Forced to Abandon $1B Fla. Campus amid Plummeting Profits, DeSantis Feud

'Given the company’s financial straits, falling market cap and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures...'

(Headline USA) Disney officials on Thursday tipped their hand to the company’s dire financial situation after poorly conceived decisions to go woke have damaged their brand, perhaps irreparably, among concerned parents and other conservative customers.

Yet, the $200 billion entertainment juggernaut remained locked in a losing battle with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, this time declaring that they would revoke their promise of a $1 billion new campus near their Disney World theme park.

While Democrat figures in California, such as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Rep. Adam Schiff, attempted to spin it as a victory for the Left, it was a clear indication that the pressure campaign on Disney was prevailing as the company desperately tries to triage its plummeting profit margins.

Josh D’Amaro, chairman of the parks, experiences and products division, said in a memo to employees that “new leadership and changing business conditions” had prompted the company to abandon its plans.

“I remain optimistic about the direction of our Walt Disney World business,” D’Amaro said. “We have plans to invest $17 billion and create 13,000 jobs over the next ten years. I hope we’re able to do so.”

Disney had planned to build the campus about 20 miles from the Walt Disney World theme park resort and relocate 2,000 employees from Southern California to work in digital technology, finance and product development.

It now will be forced to remain in the Anaheim area, where burdensome taxes and regulations, skyrocketing crime and homelessness, and overvalued real estate are among the hindrances it is forced to deal with.

Florida officials offered mixed reactions to the news that Disney planned to renege on the relocation agreement.

DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern said the state had been unsure whether the new Disney campus would come to fruition since it was announced nearly two years ago.

“Given the company’s financial straits, falling market cap and declining stock price, it is unsurprising that they would restructure their business operations and cancel unsuccessful ventures,” Redfern said.

However, Florida Sen. Joe Gruters, a former chairman of the state Republican Party, called Disney’s decision a huge loss.

“I hope we can put this conflict behind us and get back to a more normal working relationship with a company that’s been one of our best business and tourism partners that we’ve had over the last 50 years,” Gruters said.

“Two thousand jobs and a billion dollars worth of investments into our state, I would say that’s a serious blow,” he continued. “The market is much better at dealing with companies rather than heavy-handed government.”

Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents the Orlando area in the Florida House, released a statement blaming the governor for the lost jobs.

“Governor Ron DeSantis is a job killing moron who cares more about his own political ambitions and culture wars than Florida and our future,” Eskamani said. “According to him, ‘woke makes you go broke’ but this is another example of how it’s actually the complete opposite. DeSantis is not who you want for President—ever.”

Disney and DeSantis have been engaged in a tug-of-war for more than a year after the company sought to speak out against Florida’s anti-grooming law in an effort to exert political pressure.

DeSantis and the Republican legislature responded by revoking Disney’s longstanding privilege to an autonomous zone where it was allowed to operate without government involvement.

The backlash against the company also exposed a Zoom call in which top officials admitted that Disney had been actively incorporating LGBT and transgender messages into its programming as part of an effort to sexualize and indoctrinate children.

Since then, it has seen several of its movies bomb and has been forced to lay off thousands of workers. Former CEO Bob Iger was brought in as part of an attempt to restore its public image but has made little progress in stemming the damage.

On Thursday, Disney also announced that it would close a Star Wars themed luxury hotel as part of the overall effort to cut some $5.5 billion in costs.

Meanwhile, Disney has filed a lawsuit suit against DeSantis alleges the governor waged a “targeted campaign of government retaliation.”

It asks a federal judge to void the takeover of the theme park district, as well as the DeSantis oversight board’s actions, on the grounds that they were violations of the company’s free speech rights.

The creation of Disney’s self-governing district by the Florida Legislature was instrumental in the company’s decision in the 1960s to build near Orlando.

Disney told the state at the time that it planned to build a futuristic city that would include a transit system and urban planning innovations, so the company needed autonomy. The futuristic city never materialized, however, and instead morphed into a second theme park that opened in 1982.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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