Disney Drops Lawsuits Against DeSantis-Backed Board, Reach Settlement

Disney dropped its lawsuits against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), reaching a settlement with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD).

CFTOD replaced Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District Board, which allowed Disney to be recognized as its own governing authority, over a year ago.

The settlement includes Disney’s recognition that its agreement with the former Reedy Creek Improvement District is void. CFTOD will also drop its counterclaims against Disney.

American Faith reported that the dispute began when Disney expressed disapproval of a new state law that prohibits teaching about sexuality and so-called “gender identity” to young children.

Before the new board was installed, Disney rushed to modify the special tax district agreement, effectively restricting the new body’s power for decades.

However, in April 2023, the CFTOD declared Disney’s proposed expansion plans for Disney World non-compliant with state law, voiding the agreement. Disney then filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis, accusing him of illegally using government power to retaliate against the company for exercising its freedom of speech.

In response, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board launched its own state court lawsuit.

Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ communications director, said in a statement, “We are glad that Disney has dropped its lawsuits against the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and conceded that their last-minute development agreements are null, void, and unenforceable. No corporation should be its own government. Moving forward, we stand ready to work with Disney and the District to help promote economic growth, family-friendly tourism, and accountable government in Central Florida.”

Griffin also shared the development on social media, writing, “Remember all these ridiculous headlines from the media,” and sharing images of headlines describing Florida’s alleged “legal humiliation” during the duration of the lawsuits. “Turns out (to no one’s surprise) they were all wrong,” Griffin noted.

“Disney TODAY concedes last-minute deals were ‘null’, ‘void’, ‘unenforceable,'” he continued. “How many of these media outlets will be issuing corrections?”

Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle told FOX Business that he is “pleased to put an end to all litigation pending in state court in Florida between Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” adding that the 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.”

Charbel Barakat, the CFTOD’s vice chair, said the board is “eager to work with Disney and other businesses within Central Florida to make our destination known for world-class attractions and accountable governance.”