Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle responded to the news of the Lake Nona campus cancelation today with a letter to local community leaders in Central Florida. In a letter to community leaders, Vahle acknowledged that the project is no longer moving forward. He also recognized that since the project was announced, ” several dynamics have changed, including a change in company leadership and evolving economic and business conditions.” This references the ouster of former Disney CEO Bob Chapek and the ongoing feud between Disney and DeSantis over the former Reedy Creek Improvement District.
For those leaders who were wondering about the future plans of Walt Disney World Resort that include $17 billion in investments that could lead to 13,000 new jobs, Vahle said that “We hope those plans will become a future reality.” He also confirmed that plans for attainable and affordable housing will continue to move forward as Disney continues to invest in the community around it. Disney also gives billions of dollars to local charitable organizations as well.
Along with committing to Disney’s efforts for the community, Vahle also acknowledged the 75,000 cast members that call Central Florida home. He reiterated that Disney continues to offer the best benefits in the Central Florida hospitality industry and also offers free education through the Disney Aspire program.
Vahle wrapped up the letter by saying that the decision announced today was hard but that Disney continues to be committed to both its Cast Members and also the community. The full letter can be read here:
Dear Community Leaders,
Today, you may have heard the news that Disney is no longer moving forward on the construction of a new campus in the thriving and growing community of Lake Nona in Orlando. Since we first announced this project, several dynamics have changed, including a change in company leadership and evolving economic and business conditions.
Regarding our world-class destination, our desire is to continue investing in our core business in an effort to attract and welcome millions of visitors to Walt Disney World and Central Florida each year so they can enjoy the kind of hospitality our region is known for around the world. Our plans currently call for us to invest $17 billion in Walt Disney World over the next 10 years and create 13,000 new jobs to continue doing our part as a leading employer in the hospitality and themed entertainment industry. We hope those plans will become a future reality.
For decades, we have operated our business responsibly and being the region’s largest taxpayer, we paid and collected over $1.1 billion in state and local taxes during last year alone.
As the largest single-site employer in Central Florida, we are deeply rooted in this community, and we continue to make investments for the betterment of our region such as our contribution of 80 acres of land to create affordable and attainable housing for our community, which we announced last year.
Groundbreaking on this development is targeted for next year, with the first of 1,400 units anticipated to be completed in 2026.
We also continue to invest in our community through our broad array of philanthropic and citizenship efforts. Over the last 20 months, we’ve provided $6.5 million in grants to locally based, non-profit organizations such as Give Kids The World, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Conservation Florida, Heart of Florida United Way, Hope Partnership, The Nature Conservancy and more. This is on top of the donation of millions of hours of time that our Cast Members have contributed to deserving organizations over the decades.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the amazing dedication of the 75,000 Cast Members who call Central Florida their home. To them, we offer the best overall benefits package in the Central Florida hospitality industry, including an $18 minimum wage by the end of the year – which is well above the state’s minimum wage – affordable medical coverage, subsidized childcare, access to free higher education through Disney Aspire our 100% paid tuition programs, and pathways to help Cast at every step of their career.
While today’s decision was not easy, we remain committed to our Cast Members as well as you and our wonderful community.
Walt Disney World Resort