By Jessica LaVigne
The Walt Disney Company had two very big announcements yesterday, impacting thousands of Florida and California-based Cast Members and Imagineers. With news of the company not moving forward with their Lake Nona relocation, and ultimately shutting down the Galactic Starcruiser, what does this mean for Orlando?
Disney Lake Nona Campus Cancelled
The announcement for the new Disney Lake Nona campus came in 2021, where Disney would start their $1 Billion project. An estimated 2,000 Cast Members and Imagineers would be relocated from California, with many not guaranteed a role with the company if they chose not to move.
Image by Tavistock
In 2022, however, the project was postponed and estimated to be completed by 2026. The delay sparked some hope for those who didn't want to relocate so quickly, but also some concern for those whose jobs would be impacted.
A statement by Josh D'Amaro to The Walt Disney Company's (TWDC) employees was released yesterday, right before the announcement to the press, stating "new leadership and changing business conditions" led to the decision to cancel the project. For those who have already relocated to Florida in preparation for the campus, he states that they will be reached out to individually about the situation, including the possibility to move back.
Many are speculating that this announcement comes amid the tension between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Company. The Reedy Creek Improvement District, where Disney is located, was targeted by the governor, only after TWDC publicly criticized the highly debated 'Don't Say Gay' Bill earlier this year. Following this, and the lawsuits filed between the two parties, this feud is suspected to have been the cause of TWDC not developing the campus in Florida.
Many are shocked and disheartened at the decision to cancel the Lake Nona campus, including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
“As a City, we’re disappointed whenever a business chooses not to expand or locate in Orlando. That’s no different here with today’s news related to Disney.”
Mayor Buddy Dyer, 5/18/23
Although this project is no longer moving forward, D'Amaro also stated that that are "plans to invest $17 billion and create 13,000 jobs over the next ten years." But will this be for a new project? In the parks? or reallocated to help employees move back to the East Coast?
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser Announced Final Voyages
Having just began voyages March 2022, many are shocked by the announcement that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser will be offering its final voyages the last week in September of this year - September 28-30.
The galactic starcruiser offered a 3-day, 2-night experience set in the Star Wars universe, where travelers on a galactic cruise ship are caught between a conflict with the First Order and the Resistance. This included various themed "side-quests" that adventurers could embark on, as well as themed dinners, a trip to Batuu, and more.
Although it attracted a lot of attention after its original debut, the immersive Star Wars experience has seen a huge decrease in occupancy. Due to this, we've seen some major discounts for Annual Passholders and Cast members for the experience over the past months.
The original price for two travelers on the Halcyon Starcruiser was $4,809 for a standard cabin, with the total decreasing slightly the more individuals there are per room. However, with certain discounts a party of 5 could now travel for around $3,000. We're unsure if more discounts will be announced once voyage sales resume on May 26th.
A statement was released by Disney following the news of the closure:
“Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser is one of our most creative projects ever and has been praised by our Guests and recognized for setting a new bar for innovation and immersive entertainment. This premium experience gave us the opportunity to try new things on a smaller scale of 100 rooms, and we will take what we’ve learned to create future experiences that can reach more of our Guests and fans.
We will be contacting Guests booked for voyages departing on or after Sept. 30 to discuss their options and modify their plans. To prioritize these Guests, we are pausing new bookings until May 26.
We are so proud of all of the Cast Members and Imagineers who brought Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser to life and look forward to delivering an excellent experience for Guests during the remaining voyages over the coming months.”
If you want to be one of the few to travel on the starcruiser before its final voyage, click here to book starting on May 26th.
Images by Walt Disney World
As someone who holds Disney very close to my heart, I was so excited about these projects and what they meant for Orlando. However, this just means that Disney is planning for bigger and better projects ahead, and we can't wait to see what's next.
What do you think about these recent announcements?
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