Disney, DeSantis Drop Lawsuits Against Each Other as Years-Long Political and Cultural War Comes to an End

‘The Most Magical Place on Earth’ can now once again focus on creating that ‘magic.’

AP/Ted Shaffrey
People at the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. AP/Ted Shaffrey

Governor DeSantis and Disney seem to finally be burying the hatchet after nearly two years of legal battles over who controls the governing district of its Florida theme park.

In a meeting on Wednesday, the members of the state-appointed board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District agreed to drop a lawsuit against Disney, and the district will drop its counterclaim against Disney as well. Disney will now consider null and void the restrictive covenants and agreements that had granted the company broad power and developmental rights over its former self-governing improvement district, Reedy Creek.

“No corporation should be its own government,” Mr. DeSantis’s communications director, Bryan Griffin, said in a statement. The development comes after another Disney-related legal win for the governor. A federal court in January dismissed on jurisdictional grounds a lawsuit against him by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts which alleged that the governor punished the company’s freedom of speech after its employees criticized parental rights legislation in 2022. 

The ruling led to Mr. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature to deprive Disney of its self-governing power and create the new central Florida board, whose influence Disney sought to thwart with last-minute insurance policies. Mr. DeSantis’s spokesman, Jeremy Redfern, summarized the position of the governor in regard to Disney when he said: “The Corporate Kingdom is over.”

“The Most Magical Place on Earth” can now once again focus on creating that “magic.” As the state-level legal battles cool down, Disney has a fresh chance to restore its relationship with Florida as it seeks to bolster investment in its four theme parks and two water parks in the state. Last year, the company announced that $17 billion would be invested in its Florida parks.

Disney’s chief executive, Bob Iger, said after returning to his post in November of 2022 that he planned to “quiet things down” after the company was “dragged” into a cultural and political battle over Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act. Mr. Iger, who will remain at his post through 2026 after a contract extension, says he doesn’t want Disney to further engage in the vitriolic “culture war” and plans to restore the company’s focus on quality storytelling. 

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use