Walt Disney Imagineers Urge Disney to Reverse Florida Relocation Following ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Controversy

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A new exclusive piece in The Wrap detailed a concerted effort by Imagineers to reverse the forced relocation to Lake Nona, Florida, following the state’s highly controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill passing last week.

In an open letter to CEO Bob Chapek, Disney employees demanded a number of actions to protect their LGBTQ+ employees, two of which are “stopping any efforts to move employees to Florida office locations, ensuring employee safety and employment retention” and “guaranteeing no employee will be terminated when denying relocation to FL.”

Disney is currently in the midst of a highly controversial move of the Walt Disney Imagineering division from Glendale, California, to Lake Nona, Florida. We’ve previously detailed extensively how their short-sighted actions are systematically destroying the prestigious division that is WDI.

The ranks of Imagineering have been decimated from the original 1800 before the pandemic and the move announcement. A Disney spokesperson told The Wrap:” We understand relocating is always a big decision and deeply personal one, and we have been committed to approaching this project and all who are impacted with the utmost care and compassion.” The Wrap’s sources say around 300 Imagineers have committed to move to Florida, with 900 cut by furloughs and canceled projects at the pandemic’s outset, another 411 by Disney’s massive 28,000 employee furlough in 2020, and now the move costing even more from the thinned rankings of the legendary creative department.

The move was announced in the fall of 2020, and Imagineers were given an ultimatum — move to Florida, stay and lose their job at some unknown point with severance, or quit. Decades-long storied Imagineers like Jim Shull, Joe Rohde, Frank Mezzatesta, and Kevin Lively chose to quit or retire. Many others reportedly committed to stay without any real intention to move to Florida.

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Imagineering (and the Walt Disney Company itself) includes a number of LGBTQ+ individuals who believe moving to Florida is an insult to their dignity, per The Wrap. A number of prominent Imagineers are members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as Bob Gurr and Zach Riddley.

The hope is that the uproar from Chapek’s comically mishandled response to the controversial legislation will give Imagineers and other employees at Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products the backing they need to push for a reversal on the move before it’s too late.

But one Imagineer lamented, “with all of the senior employees leaving, the ‘tribal knowledge’ of Imagineering will be lost forever.”

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  1. I think I know a compromise to the whole thing. Why not have two main bases of operation with one in Florida and one in California. That way they can go back and forth between the two bases and get new recruits.

  2. The Disney Corporation is truly evil and been allowed to grow completely out of control…..DISNEY IS GENUINELY EVIL!!!!!!

  3. Disney isn’t changing thier mind. They don’t care about thier employees any more than they do thier guests. Florida is FAR more business friendly than California. Financially it makes sense so that’s what they’ll do. Anyone who thinks this weak excuse is going to work is a fool….

  4. Florida is a toxically political State and would make any LGQTB fear living there Why would Disney subject their CM’s to a place like this? We moved from FL because of the insanity.

  5. I don’t think any article should reference slang words. The bill is not named what it is referred to on the article. The basis of the bill is to keep teachers from talking about sex through third grade.

    I’m sure most Americans would be for keeping sex education or of the class room through third grade. As you can see though, when you leave the facts out, it sounds totally different.

  6. The problem is when you allow a small minority dictate the lives of the majority. Then you have a dictatorship. When using false narratives and threats you now move into coeresion and that is what this is. My personal opinion on this is very simple, If they are going to enter politics that don’t affect the company then I do not need to support them. Whether or not I agree with what is being done.

  7. Disney needs to get their nose out of everyone’s but and stop trying to be big brother and start doing what Disney wash made for, entertainment!!!
    We are at 3 generation of Disney fan’s but I am done with every time I see Disney it is something they are trying to push on others. STOP THE POLITICS! BRING BACK THE MAGIC!

  8. The theme park creative hub has been moving to central Florida for years. Many, if not most of the major design companies are based in that area. As is IAAPA!
    So my question is… What took Disney so long to move Imagineering out there?
    Years ago… No… Decades ago when I worked at Disneyland in the late 70’s we often heard rumors that they were planning to move Imagineering out there. Epcot was in the planning stages and it made sense. So it’s about time!

    The same way the movie industry long ago moved most most out the production out of Hollywood (a lot based in Atlanta area), so has the theme park design industries.

    To the Imagineers: Stop crying about it! Literally millions of folks had their jobs end, or upended over the last couple of years… So deal with it!
    Sure I get many of them can’t do a move like that for many reasons. At this point I couldn’t either, as much as I want to leave this burdensome state. (Our time will happen in a couple of years if all goes to plan.).

    And for those who do choose to move, just think of the opportunity to start a a new Imagineering! And be around the all those vast other design companies in the area. And maybe finally be able to buy a home that you couldn’t out here. Sure maybe they will make a bit less, but the cost of living and tax’s will be much much less!

  9. Shame on Disney for forcing it’s employees to move to someplace so toxic as Florida. Stay employed or suffer the shame of being named a second class citizen that can’t even be spoken about in your children’s school. That’s not a choice.

  10. Disney – GET OUT OF FLORIDA. Surely you can find a state that will provide a safe haven for ALL of your employees. DeSantis is the worst kind of dictor…he is ignorant and vindictive…period…full stop!

    1. I agree! Because of the amount o& revenue generated by the various parks in Florida,I think other states would give huge tax and other incentives to move Disney out of Florida. It would also mean the end of DeSantis political career to cause the largest company in Fl. to relocate would be unforgivable! Let the residents figure out 2here they will raise the billions of dollars generated by Disne Every year.

  11. Disney move to Colorado. They have skiing, snowboarding and Casinos. No dictators there.

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