Disney Drops Lawsuits Against DeSantis-Backed Tourism District

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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Disney has dropped its lawsuits against a special district backed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that revoked the corporation’s self-governing status in the state, multiple outlets reported on Wednesday.

DeSantis signed legislation in February 2023 replacing Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, setting off nearly a years-long legal battle between the two entities. Disney has decided to drop the pending litigation on Wednesday, resulting in a win for the Florida Republican, according to multiple outlets. (RELATED: Federal Judge Dismisses Disney’s Lawsuit Against DeSantis)

“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,” Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle told CNBC in a statement. “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.”

The Reedy Creek Improvement District anticipated DeSantis’ legislation early last year, and made a last-minute agreement to give Disney the full control of development rights and privileges. DeSantis subsequently announced legislation to nullify such an arrangement, arguing it was filled with legal issues and wasn’t formed with the appropriate notice.

The corporation later sued DeSantis for launching what they believed to be a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” against Disney. The DeSantis-backed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board responded with a lawsuit of their own.

A federal judge dismissed Disney’s lawsuit in January, ruling that the corporation “lacks standing” to sue the DeSantis administration.

Disney is now conceding that the last-minute agreements are “null and void,” the National Review reported, citing DeSantis’ office.

“No corporation should be its own government,” DeSantis spokesman Bryan Griffin told the outlet in a statement. “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.”

The feud started in 2022 when Disney announced opposition to DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education Bill, calling for the law’s repeal over what the corporation viewed to be discriminatory.

Neither DeSantis’ office nor Disney immediately responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.

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