Hundreds of Disney employees had already relocated from California to Florida before the company axed its $1 billion campus in its escalating feud with DeSantis

  • Disney scrapped its plans to open a new $1 billion campus in Florida on Thursday.

  • The New York Times reported that hundreds of Disney employees had already relocated to Florida.

  • Internal messages said they would be offered the chance to move back to California.

At least 200 Disney employees had made the move to Florida from California for the company's projected new campus, which was axed on Thursday after Disney's spat with Gov. Ron DeSantis reached a fever pitch.

Disney announced its plans to scrap the $1 billion complex in an internal email on Thursday, a week before the Florida governor was expected to announce a presidential run. Amid an ongoing legal battle with DeSantis, the company said that 200 employees had already moved to Florida but that they would be offered an option to move back to California, the Disney chairman Josh D'Amaro told employees in an internal email seen by Insider and first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

"For those who have already moved, we will talk to you individually about your situation, including the possibility of moving you back," D'Amaro said in the email.

According to the New York Times, at least 1,000 employees were set to be relocated to the Lake Nona Town Center campus. The employees largely worked in a department that collaborated with the company's movie studios to design theme park rides. Many of them were disgruntled about the move, per the Times.

Though DeSantis was not mentioned in the email, anonymous sources privy to conversations among Disney's top brass told the Times that DeSantis' crusade was a major factor in the decision to pull back.

Walt Disney World employs 75,000 people in Florida, and the new campus would have brought another 2,000 jobs to the state.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The feud between DeSantis and Disney kicked off when Disney spoke out against a Florida law that clamped down on lessons related to sexual orientation and gender in public schools. The spat intensified after a DeSantis-appointed board took control of Disney's special-tax district. Disney sued the board, which later countersued, and the cases are now in the courts.

"While some were excited about the new campus, I know that this decision and the circumstances surrounding it have been difficult for others," D'Amaro said in the email, according to the Journal. "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."

DeSantis' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider