Disney is fighting for records from Gov. DeSantis’ board in new lawsuit

REEDY CREEK 1 (Large) (1)
The Mouse wants text messages, emails and voicemails from the state-controlled Disney government board.

Disney is suing its own government for records in the latest escalation in the legal fight between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Republicans.

Disney accused the state-controlled Disney board of taking months to respond to public records requests and self-selecting which records the board does release. 

Disney filed the lawsuit Friday, the last working day before Christmas, in Orange Circuit Court and is demanding an immediate hearing as the company accuses the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, formerly known as Reedy Creek, of violating Florida’s open records law. 

Disney is seeking text messages, emails, voicemails and other documents from District Administrator Glen Gilzean and the tourism board members who oversee the infrastructure and emergency services at Walt Disney World Resort.

The board’s chair Martin Garcia is also using his personal email account to do government business, Disney said, charging those emails haven’t been released yet when Disney asked for them.

“CFTOD went so far as to acquiesce to the insistence on the part of Board Chair Martin Garcia that only CFTOD’s outside attorneys be allowed to access District related documents stored in his personal email account and devices, outsourcing this core government function to the same lawyers who are suing Disney,” Disney said in the lawsuit.

Disney blamed some of the delays on the reported challenges arising after the state took control of the tourism board. Up to 50 district employees have quit since Gov. Ron DeSantis took charge this year, Disney said in the lawsuit, and remaining employees are facing low morale.

“On the public records front, this has led to delays, inadequate preservation, storage and production of public records, and improper and unsupported claims of privilege and exemption from disclosure,” Disney said in the lawsuit which also expresses concern that records from former employees aren’t being saved.

Meanwhile, the district has argued employee morale is strong and said it is striving to be more transparent than the old Disney-controlled board. Meetings are now live streamed online and agendas are available in advance, for instance, the district previously said.

DeSantis pushed a law this year that gave him the power to appoint his allies on Disney’s government board. Disney, in turn, has accused DeSantis of retaliating against the company for speaking out on Florida’s parents’ right bill better known by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.” Since then, Disney filed a federal lawsuit while the tourism board countersued in state court, accusing Disney of overstepping its power to strip the new state board of its power.

Florida Politics sought comment from both the tourism board and Walt Disney World for this story, but neither side responded immediately Saturday morning.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


  • Dont Say FLA

    December 23, 2023 at 11:45 am

    Will Rhonda’s Anti-Disney Squad claim they are exempt from Florida’s Sunshine Law as part of the Rhonda Campaign?

    That might get them out of providing the goods, but at the same time, that will expose them as being nothing more than part of Rhonda’s silly and losing Campaign.

  • Michael K

    December 23, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Got get him, Mickey!

  • David Davidson

    December 23, 2023 at 11:01 pm

    Disney’s supposed to be entertaining kids, not manipulating them. That they’re involved at all in these political discussions about parent’s rights make them seem like part of a cult.

    • Best of luck

      December 24, 2023 at 10:07 am

      This article does not mention either of those words. You have been brainwashed and that’s why your family doesn’t want to speak to you anymore, David. God bless.

    • Cheesy Floridian

      December 26, 2023 at 4:12 pm

      Where did you find this information? can you cite your sources? or is this just garbage that Ron and his puppets have been telling the public? People and corporations are allowed to express opinions about laws and politics in the USA or did we turn into Russia or North Korea?

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704