Settlement Reached in Long-Running Disney, DeSantis Feud

Settlement Reached in Long-Running Disney, DeSantis Feud

( – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and The Walt Disney Company have feuded over conflicting political views for years in legislative and court battles. Political disagreements led to a battle royale over whether the company would retain the rights of self-governance over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a tax district that later became the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. After two years of tumultuous relations between the governor and the corporation, both sides are trying to let it go.

On Wednesday, Disney capitulated on several issues. The first was an agreement to pause an appeal on a January ruling in a suit the company brought against DeSantis. The court held that the company had no standing or jurisdiction to pursue the case. In that instance, Disney accused the Florida governor of violating the First Amendment to silence corporate executives who disagreed with the governor’s policies when the state took over the tax district. Disney currently owns 25,000 acres and employs 75,000 people at the resort. It previously pointed to its economic contributions to convince lawmakers that the entity benefits the state through tax revenue, jobs, and business.

While the appeal is on pause, the company is trying to work with the officials to create a new development agreement. In the spirit of moving forward, it also agreed to stop fighting with the district in state court. DeSantis has also appointed a technocratic administrator to the board that oversees the land.

In a statement after the settlement announcement, the Florida governor said the courts had “vindicated” the state in its battles so far. The President of Walt Disney World Resort, Jeff Vahle, said ending part of the battle and moving forward with “a new chapter of constructive agreement with the new leadership” has “pleased” Disney executives. The deal is far from over. Both sides must work together to create “agreements that are effective and workable on many issues.”

Now, Disney says it plans to move forward and “turbocharge” its growth, investing $60 billion in global investments over the next 10 years.

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