April 14, 2024


Image for article titled Disney's long battle against Ron DeSantis is almost over

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin (Getty Images)

Nearly two years after a highly public feud kicked off between the Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — involving the takeover and subsequent renaming of of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District — a settlement has been reached.

What began as DeSantis’ retaliation for Disney standing against the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans talk of sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools, led to a court battle about whether the state was imposing on the company’s First Amendment rights by stripping Disney Parks’ long-standing municipal development rights over its land. Essentially, DeSantis sanctioned state figures to act as roadblocks for future development in case Disney continued to step out of line.

After extensive back and forth there’s now a resolution. The AP reports that DeSantis’ allies and Disney “reached a settlement agreement Wednesday in a state court fight over how Walt Disney World is developed in the future following the takeover of the theme park resort’s government by the Florida governor.”

This means that DeSantis’ appointees are not beholden to the last-minute adjustments to the plan that Disney slid in place just before the takeover. It also means that the development agreement and restrictive covenants that were installed after the takeover are not valid either. Both parties have now agreed that a comprehensive plan dating back to 2020—i.e., before this whole conflict began — will be used as a template until the DeSantis-backed board and Disney come to a new development agreement.

Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, released a statement to the AP saying “this agreement opens a new chapter of constructive engagement with the new leadership of the district and serves the interests of all parties by enabling significant continued investment and the creation of thousands of direct and indirect jobs and economic opportunity in the state.”

A version of this article originally appeared on Gizmodo.



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