In an internal memo that was shared with Disney’s theme park/consumer product/experience leaders earlier today, it was announced that Disney intends to relocate them to a new campus that will be built in Central Florida, near Walt Disney World.
Over 2,000 salaried employees will be affected, many of them executives that are a part of the company’s Parks, Experiences and [Consumer] Products (DPEP) team. This includes Walt Disney Imagineering leaders as well. Disney intends to notify all affected employees by November 1 this year and hopes to complete all transfers by December of next year.
According to insider sources that spoke with DisneyExaminer on anonymity, the move to consolidate all of DPEP’s management and operations was three years in the making and became an appealing option for Disney senior leaders for a number of reasons, including the reduced cost of doing business in Florida (e.g. tax rates, land cost, employee COLA, etc.). Additionally, many of the domestic theme park employees call Florida home base and the hope is that putting all of them together would “drive further collaboration and creativity” across their businesses and verticals, said DPEP chairman Josh D’Amaro.
The announcement was intended to be shared 18 months out for a number of reasons as well, namely to allow those affected to choose whether or not they want to make the move or not. Insiders already share that while most established leaders who have been at the company for over a decade are having issues with calling Florida home and are afraid that they might have to walk away from their “dream jobs.”
D’Amaro has assured that they are committed to approaching each employee with “the utmost care and compassion,” as they decide what to do. Some employees are already asking if exceptions can be made and to remain in California. However, depending on the leverage their role has, it’s unlikely many exceptions will be made and resignations will occur.
Another reason the announcement is being made early is because Disney still needs to build the new campus that will house all those employees who opt to move. That new campus will be in the Lake Nona area in Orlando, close to Walt Disney World. According to sources, it will be one of Disney’s most technologically advanced and most beautiful campuses. Until then, all employees will share space with existing office spaces on the Disney World property and nearby at the company’s Celebration campus.
As for what will remain in California and the Burbank and Glendale campuses, Disney intends to repurpose and build out that land to create more soundstages and creative spaces for movie and TV creation and operation. This includes the legendary 1401 Flower St. building where Imagineering will still occupy in Glendale and ABC headquarters, Disney corporate, and Walt Disney Animation Studios on Walt’s original studio lot in Burbank.
We’ll update this post more as the movement begins.