Disney and its governing board settle lawsuits

Disney and its state-controlled government had been in a legal fight for months.

Disney World and the state-controlled tourism oversight board reached a settlement, ending their litigation in state court, the two sides announced.

“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,” said Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle 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.”

Disney and its state-controlled government had been in a legal fight for months.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board — which handles Disney World’s infrastructure — countersued Disney in May and accused the entertainment company of trying to control the governing district’s future. After the DeSantis appointed members took control of Disney’s governing board, they soon realized Disney had made last-minute agreements that limited the new board’s power.

Then just before Christmas, Disney sued the tourism district seeking public records.

Under the terms of the settlement announced Wednesday, the development agreements and covenants approved by the Disney-controlled board before the state takeover are nulled.

The tourism district promised to work with Disney reviewing and amending the 2020 comprehensive plan.

Tourism oversight board member Charbel Barakat said he was pleased the district reached an agreement and he is eager to partner with Disney.

“I don’t think that we have had this much spontaneous applause. I’m not sure what to do now, folks. I guess we get on with the business of this district. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” Barakat said after the board voted to approve the settlement and then clapped after an executive session during Wednesday’s board meeting.

Meanwhile, Disney is appealing a Judge’s dismissal of its free speech federal lawsuit.

Disney has accused officials of retaliation after the entertainment company spoke out against Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” legislation otherwise known by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.” In 2023, the state passed several laws that gave DeSantis the power to appoint board members onto Disney World’s government board and let state inspectors onto the monorail at the theme parks.

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 .


  • TD

    March 27, 2024 at 12:12 pm

    Disney folds. The plan that the Disney hacks approved on the way out the door is set aside. All the people that said Disney was going to roll DeSantis can apologize now.

  • Andrew Finn

    March 28, 2024 at 11:57 pm

    The only good thing here is that DeSatan will be gone in a few more years and Disney will be around pretty much close to forever. Once the “Florida Fuhrer” and his rubber stamp legislature are gone, then the new sane replacements can restore Disney’s deal that worked just fine for half a century.

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