The Parks, Experiences, And Products division of the Walt Disney Company has had an incredibly tough go of things for the last year or so. When the pandemic shut down the theme parks across the world, nobody was quite sure what that meant for the division, and eventually, we did see significant layoffs within Disney, including inside Walt Disney Imagineering, the department tasked with creating all the incredible attractions we love. Now, many of those people just got hit with another major bombshell as it's been announced that a large portion of the entire division, including Imagineering, being moved to a new Disney campus being built in Florida.
According to Theme Park Insider, the new campus is being built at Lake Nona in the Orlando area, and about 2,000 people who currently work for the Walt Disney Company in California will be expected to move to the new location in Florida. Only those who are dedicated to working on the Disneyland Resort in California, or the international parks, will apparently be staying. For those working with Tokyo Disney Resort, as well as the parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai, it's likely a little better to be based in the pacific time zone.
The timing of this decision is interesting considering Disney Parks just announced a desire to put together a massive expansion of Disneyland Resort. On the one hand, that may mean that a larger than normal number of people might be "dedicated" to Disneyland right now, but that project is in such an early stage it seems unlikely that a lot of Imagineering resources are being put toward it yet.
A rumor that something just like this might happen had been floating around for the last few months, but this is the first confirmation that we've had of it. Needless to say, moving that many people is a massive undertaking. As such, the move won't happen all at once, but will take place gradually over the next 18 months. The cast members expected to move will be notified by November 1, which means many of them may spend the next several months wondering what is going to happen. The full 2,000 people making the move will have done so by the end of 2022.
Even though people won't need to pick up and move immediately, it's still a really big deal. Walt Disney Imagineering has been located in Southern California since it was founded in 1952. The people who work there certainly had no expectation that they were going to need to move across the country, but now thousands of people are going to be faced with the choice of either doing that or leaving a company that many of them probably dreamed of working at since they were kids.
While the move covers all of the Parks, Experiences, and Products division, it seems quite clear that the majority of those moving are those focusing on Disney's theme parks. It certainly makes sense for those people to be in either Southern California or Orlando. Officially, the reason for the move is the belief is that the new campus will help enhance collaboration and integration of the various elements within the company.
It's difficult to believe that Walt Disney Imagineering will be quite the same place when this is all said and done. Between the layoffs last year and the job loses that will almost certainly occur when some people choose to leave WDI rather than move, there's going to be a significant brain drain.