Gov. DeSantis wins – Disney drops lawsuit, concedes last-minute power grab null and void

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially slain the House of Mouse, forcing Disney to drop its lawsuits against the state and concede all of its legal maneuvering is null and void.

This is a major win for the board overseeing the land encompassing Walt Disney World Resorts. Disney admitted that its final legal effort regarding the outgoing Reedy Creek Improvement District was dead in the water.

“Walt Disney Co. made these last-ditch efforts in an attempt to solidify property rights and grant the theme park additional powers as DeSantis appointed a new board to oversee the area and hold the corporation accountable to laws and taxes in Orlando,” the Daily Mail reported.

“DeSantis’ war with Disney really ramped up after then-CEO Bob Chapek publicly spoke out against the governor’s policies regarding education and specifically the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation to minors, which critics dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay law,'” the media outlet continued.

“No corporation should be its own government,” DeSantis’ Communications Director Bryan Griffin asserted in a statement on Wednesday. “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.”

DeSantis previously moved to strip Disney of its far-reaching powers after CEO Bob Chapek implemented Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies at the House of Mouse. The governor also nixed the board that handed Disney unfair benefits that other companies did not receive in Florida.

“In February 2023, DeSantis signed House Bill 9-B into law, which established the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) as the replacement to Disney’s longstanding Reedy Creek Improvement District,” the Daily Mail noted. “Disney was not happy because this essentially ended a slew of tax breaks and powers the company held in Florida.”

“Hours before the CFTOD took over, Disney entered into last-minute agreements with the Reedy Creek board to try and stop the new board from enforcing new powers over the area,” the outlet added.

Disney tried every trick in the book to retain its power and tax breaks.

“Before control of the district changed hands from Disney allies to DeSantis appointees early last year, the Disney supporters on its board signed agreements with Disney shifting control over design and construction at Disney World to the company. The new DeSantis appointees claimed the ‘eleventh-hour deals’ neutered their powers and the district sued the company in state court in Orlando to have the contracts voided,” Fox13 reported.

“Disney filed counterclaims that include asking the state court to declare the agreements valid and enforceable,” the outlet stated.

The settlement reached on Wednesday acknowledges that the Development Agreement is in effect “null and void” and has “no legal effect or enforceability.”

“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,” Griffin announced.

DeSantis Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern called out the media for its malfeasance over the issue.

“The real story here is the media malpractice surrounding the Disney narrative. They were so sure of themselves,” Redfern wrote on X.

Florida’s Voice has a roundup of media headlines all declaring DeSantis would lose… as Redfern also wrote, “Lots of egg on lots of faces”:

  • Wall Street Journal – DeSantis’s Miscalculation: ‘Disney Is Playing the Long Game’
  • Vox – How Disney just beat Ron DeSantis
  • The Telegraph – The crucial mistake that lost DeSantis his fight against Disney
  • Above The Law – Supreme Court Subtweets Ron DeSantis That He’s Totally Losing To Disney
  • Theme Park Insider – Here’s How Disney Played Florida’s Ron DeSantis
  • InsideTheMagic – DeSantis Begs Court for Victory Over Disney After Primary Loss
  • New York Mag/Intelligencer – Ron DeSantis Got Played by Disney
  • Vox – Ron DeSantis loses again to Disney
  • Salon – “Out-negotiated by Mickey Mouse”: DeSantis’ board reveals Disney quietly stripped them of power
  • InsideTheMagic – Crushing DeSantis Court Loss Great News for Disney
  • WFTV – End of Reedy Creek: Disney won’t pay more taxes, but you might
  • Disney Dining – Disney Will Get to Keep Reedy Creek District as Florida Lawmakers Reportedly U-Turn on Their Decision
  • Slate – Florida’s Law Punishing Disney Has a Billion-Dollar Problem. Ron DeSantis wants to strip the company of its status, but debt may stand in the way.
  • InsideTheMagic – DeSantis Blames Mainstream Media for Losing Presidential Campaign, Disney War
  • Newsweek – Ron DeSantis Suffers Huge Blow in His Battle With Disney
  • MSNBC – Despite DeSantis’ plea, Disney isn’t ‘moving on’ from lawsuit. Ron DeSantis clearly hopes Disney will “move on” from the fight he picked with the company. A court filing suggests the Republican’s plea didn’t work.
  • Above The Law – Ron DeSantis So Sure He’s Going To Win Disney Lawsuit That He’s Publicly Begging Bob Iger To Drop It

DeSantis’ office asserts that the agreement ends the legal fight between Disney and the governor, as well as establishing an even playing field for businesses in Orlando.

Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle, announced in a statement, “We are pleased to put an end to all litigation pending in state court in Florida between Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.”

“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,” Vahle proclaimed.


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