Feud Over? Disney Comes to Terms With DeSantis

(UnitedVoice.com) – Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill in March 2022. The legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by its critics, set off a firestorm in the state. After a significant amount of pressure, Disney’s CEO at the time took a stance against the legislation. That set off a legal battle that has finally come to an end.

The Battle

Before DeSantis signed the bill that prohibited discussions about sexual orientation in elementary schools, Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against the bill. He acknowledged the anger many of his employees felt when the entertainment giant didn’t speak out against it before then.

Chapek went on to condemn the state for the legislation. DeSantis responded the day after the then-CEO made the statement and said that Disney “crossed the line” and promised to fight back against people who “are threatening [Florida’s] parents and threatening kids.”

Florida lawmakers quickly moved to revoke Disney’s special tax district, the Reedy Creek Improvement District. They were successful and the governor appointed a board to take over the district’s operations. They canceled development agreements that the former board passed before DeSantis took over.

Disney sued Florida in 2023 and argued the governor violated the company’s First Amendment rights by retaliating against it over the former CEO’s speech. A federal judge eventually threw the lawsuit out, basically ruling that it didn’t matter if it was retaliatory. Disney promised to appeal.

The Solution

On June 12, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (formerly Reedy Creek) voted to approve a $17 billion development plan for Walt Disney World in Kissimmee over the next 15 years. The vote ended the months-long legal battle over the property.

The agreement means Disney will be able to expand and develop the property without worrying about Florida politicians interfering. Disney World President Jeff Vahle issued a statement saying the agreement will support “the growth of this global destination, fueling the Florida economy.”

Disney is obligated to spend at least $8 billion and must expand affordable housing. The company has set aside $17 billion to expand the complex over the next 10 years and believes the expansion will create about 13,000 jobs.

In return for the agreement, Disney has decided to drop all of its lawsuits against DeSantis and the district’s new board. Dennis Speigel, the founder of International Theme Park Services, said the legal fight was never going to go anywhere because it was a “lose-lose” and it “was only a matter of time” before the two “kissed and made up.”

Copyright 2024, UnitedVoice.com