Walt Disney World Resort Magic Kingdom

Disney Drops Federal Lawsuit Against Governor DeSantis and Other Florida Leaders

Yesterday the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District approved a multi-year/decade development agreement for Walt Disney World Resort. With the approval, Disney dropped its state lawsuits against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the district. With the development agreement approved, the district commits to making infrastructure improvements and Disney commits to investing up to $17 billion into Walt Disney World over the course of the next twenty years.

Disney and DeSantis

End of a Controversy

Today, Disney dropped its federal lawsuit. The end of this lawsuit marks the end of an era of tumultuous chapter in Florida. This was a chapter marked by controversy between the house of mouse and Governor Desantis and his supporters. This has been a battle that has been waged for two years between Disney and Governor DeSantis that began after Disney came out against the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in Florida. This led to Governor DeSantis beginning a war of words against what he called “woke Disney.” It then escalated as Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature dissolved what used to be the Reedy Creek Improvement District. This district governed the area where most of Walt Disney World Resort is located. A new district, called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, was put in its place. The new district had a board of directors that were hand picked and appointed by the Florida Governor.

As the months went by, controversy continued to escalate and lawsuits began to spring up as each side pointed fingers at alleged wrongdoing of the other. Disney accused Governor DeSantis of violating its 1st Amendment rights and using the government to retaliate against it. Governor DeSantis accused Disney of being ungoverned and lacking accountability in the district. There would eventually be lawsuits at both the Federal and State level. This all happened while Governor DeSantis was ramping up his run for the Republican nomination to be President of the United States of America. After the Governor exited the race, it appeared that the controversy was beginning to cool down. In March, terms for an agreement moving forward were announced. With the approval by the CFTOD board, this agreement became a reality.

Following the approval of the development agreement, Disney notified the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday that it was dropping its case against Governor DeSantis and other Florida leaders. “All parties to this appeal hereby stipulate to dismissal of the appeal with prejudice,” the notice states.

The resolution of this controversy and the development agreement comes as Disney is working to supercharge its Experiences segment with $60 billion over the course of the next 10 years. A portion of this will undoubtably be spent on this development agreement. The Experiences segment is the home of Disney Parks and Resorts. It would be very unsurprising to learn about future plans for Walt Disney World Resort that are now possible because of this development agreement at this summer’s D23: The Ultimate Disney Fan Event.

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District

About the Development Deal

The new deal will have Disney donating up to 100 acres of Walt Disney World’s 24,000 acres toward the construction of infrastructure projects that are controlled by the district. Disney will also be required to award at least half of its construction projects to companies that are based in Florida and also spend at least $10 million on affordable housing for central Florida.

The agreement also allows for the possibility of a fifth major theme park to be built at Walt Disney World Resort along with two minor parks, like water parks, if the company were to desire that. More hotel rooms are also allowed under the new agreement. The company could raise the number of hotel rooms from nearly 40,000 rooms to over 53,000 rooms and also increase the retail and restaurant space by over 20%. Disney will continue to control building heights due to its need to maintain an immersive environment.

What do you think about the end of this controversial time for Disney and Florida? Do you think this was the right path forward? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!