Loved by millions, the Walt Disney Company is known for bringing magic to almost everything it touches, bringing animations to life on the big screen, lighting up faces walking down Main Street, and filling stomachs with some of the tastiest snacks. Yet, a collection ofenchanting company employeesy believe magic failed them, filing a class-action lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company over its canceled plans to relocate a group of California employees to a new Florida campus that was never built.

In a bold move, the Disney Parks’ division chief announced plans to relocate thousands of California employees to a yet-to-be-built $1 billion campus in Lake Nona, Florida. This ambitious project was designed to unite various teams and foster greater collaboration. The relocation would have affected up to 2,000 workers, including many Imagineering workers, the creative minds behind the magic of Disney parks and resorts. 

While many California employees were impacted by what they believe to be this deceptive and disruptive period in their lives, two California-based Disney staff members are leading the lawsuit filed to the Los Angeles Superior Court last week.

Maria De La Cruz, a vice president of product design, was living in Altadena. In contrast, when Disney Parks announced their relocation plans, George Fong, a creative director of product design, lived in his childhood home in South Pasadena in 2021. While many employees were resistant to relocating, De La Cruz and Fong put their respective homes on the market, which was “a particularly painful decision” for Fong because “it was the family home he had grown up in and inherited,” the lawsuit says. The plaintiffs stated that they sold their California homes and purchased homes in central Florida with the understanding that the company had expected them to move.


According to the lawsuit, Disney attempted to motivate California employees to move with promises that Florida would offer them more affordable housing, stating “strong performing schools and the availability of lifestyle amenities in and around Lake Nona” as promises Disney made. Yet, California employees facing the decision on whether or not to move ultimately “declined to relocate to Lake Nona,” as stated in the lawsuit. 

De La Cruz, Wong, and others who had moved to Florida expressed that they felt pressured by the company to relocate. The lawsuit stated that Disney leadership “made it clear that employees who declined the relocation would lose their jobs.”

Almost a year after the project’s announcement, Disney leaders revealed that the opening of the new Orlando campus was being pushed back until 2026 but encouraged employees to move by 2024. However, the project ultimately never materialized, a fact solidified in May 2023 by Disney Parks head Josh D’Amaro, who announced that the campus would not be built. “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 the construction of the campus.”

The lawsuit seeks damages for the plaintiffs and all other Californian employees who experienced a similar situation. The plaintiffs believe that the company “fraudulently” pressured employees to move and gave “false representations” by leadership to force their hand. The plaintiffs argue that after Disney’s relocation announcement, housing prices skyrocketed in the Lake Nona area. Now that the project has been canceled, the plaintiffs claim it was difficult to sell their Florida homes and return to their jobs in California.