Disney facing lawsuit over failed Lake Nona campus

Disney World
2 Disney employees filed a lawsuit seeking class action status after they sold their California homes and moved to Florida for the company's relocation that never happened.

The Walt Disney Co. is being sued by a pair of employees over the company’s botched attempt to relocate the Imagineering headquarters from California to Florida, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Under then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek, the company planned to move 2,000 employees to Lake Nona — a neighborhood of Orlando that’s been booming with redevelopment and growth. But the entertainment company faced push back from employees who didn’t want to work 20 miles from Disney World and leave their homes.

In the end, Disney nixed the move as the company dealt with a political blowback in the Sunshine State while seeing a new leader take charge.

The company was feuding with Gov. Ron DeSantis over the Parental Rights in Education law, known by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.” Chapek, who by then was unpopular in company ranks, was eventually replaced by Bob Iger.

“Given the considerable changes that have occurred since the announcement of this project, including new leadership and changing business conditions, we have decided not to move forward with construction of the campus,” Josh D’Amaro, Chair of Disney’s parks, experiences and products division, wrote in a memo last year to employees.

Now Maria De La Cruz, a Disney vice president of product design, and George Fong, a Disney creative director of product design, filed a lawsuit seeking class action status after they sold their California homes and moved to Florida.

“Mr. Fong also sold his home, which was a particularly painful decision because it was the family home he had grown up in and inherited,” the lawsuit said, according to the Times.

Fong moved back to California and bought a smaller home. De La Cruz is in the middle of moving back to the West Coast.

The lawsuit seeking punitive damages wants to represent “all current and former California Disney employees who relocated from California to Florida as a result of Disney’s announcement of the Lake Nona Project,” the Times reported.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Paul Passarelli

    June 19, 2024 at 7:24 pm

    Damn! I wonder how Disney’s opening arguments are going to proceed?…

    “Your honor, my client, Disney Corporation would like to point out exactly how stupid the parties of the plaintiff actually are. They left Kalifornia for the Free State of Florida, bought property therein, moved their households & belongings, established residency in a low tax state, then in a burst of foolishness, sold that property to relocate back to Kalifornia. Your honor, it is not the responsibility of my client to protect those that are quite literally so stupid as to do irreparable harm to themselves from, well doing harm to themselves in a flurry of emotional outrage. Your honor, the defense rests and asks for summary judgement forever barring the peontifs from prosecuting this ridiculous claim, and granting class relief in favor of the defense, from all such future actions in this manner.”

    • MarvinM

      June 19, 2024 at 10:00 pm

      Paul – Hope no employer ever treats you that badly.

      Or, if they do, that you have exactly as much recourse to address it as you are allowing these guys.

  • Islands of Adventure

    June 19, 2024 at 10:01 pm

    Duck Fisney

Comments are closed.


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