The Walt Disney Company, the largest employer in Central Florida, is reportedly in talks to relocate some of its headquarters operations from California to the Orlando area.
Fox Business News reported today Disney is “considering moving some of its corporate operations from California to Florida amid the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.”
The Orlando Business Journal (OBJ) reported that sources have told them” talks are underway” to relocate some of its office divisions to Lake Nona, a master-planned community in southeast Orlando.
If successful, these talks would represent one of the largest corporate relocations to the Central Florida area.
The “Happiest Place on Earth” and the ”Magic Kingdom” both became decidedly glum early last spring, along with most of the rest of the country, with the beginning of the pandemic as both theme-parks were shuttered. California’s Disneyland still has not reopened while Walt Disney World, in Florida, was successfully reopened months ago.
According to Fox Business, the California park is not allowed to reopen until there is less than one daily new case per 100,000 residents in the county and less than two percent positive COVID-19 tests.
In November, during an earnings call with investors, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said, “We are extremely disappointed that the State of California continues to keep Disneyland closed despite our proven track record. Our health and safety protocols are all science-based and have the support of labor unions representing 99 percent of our hourly cast members.”
Statements like this from Chapek, expressing frustration over California’s handling of the pandemic, are widespread and are fueling rumors of Disney moving some of its operations from the West Coast to Orlando.
According to the OBJ, those rumors now have a little more meat on the bone, with specifics of where Disney is looking to relocate in Orlando.
However, Disney’s official statement to both Fox Business and OBJ does not confirm anything. A spokesperson told both media outlets, “As the largest employer in Central Florida, we are always exploring opportunities for additional locations within the vicinity of our theme park but there is nothing concrete.”
Calls in to Jim Gray, the Orlando city commissioner representing Lake Nona, and the spokesperson for the developer of Lake Nona, Tavistock, have so far not been returned.