Disney drops First Amendment lawsuit appeal against Ron DeSantis
Image via AP.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
Cue the fireworks over Cinderella Castle.

The two-year fight that captured the nation’s attention between Gov. Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Co. is officially over.

On Thursday, Disney dropped the federal lawsuit appeal against DeSantis.

In January, a federal judge ruled against the entertainment giant, which had accused DeSantis of violating its freedom of speech. Lawmakers had pushed new laws targeting Disney, from its governing board appointments to its monorail safety inspections, after Disney spoke out against Florida’s parental rights law, known by critics as “Don’t Say Gay.”

“A targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Gov. DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech — now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights. … In America, the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind,” Disney said in the lawsuit filed in April 2023.

Disney vowed to appeal after U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor stuck down the lawsuit this year.

“If left unchallenged, this would set a dangerous precedent and give license to states to weaponize their official powers to punish the expression of political viewpoints they disagree with. We are determined to press forward with our case,” Disney said in a statement at the time.

But in the past few months, Disney’s fight with Florida has simmered down.

Disney and the DeSantis-appointed tourism oversight board that provides the infrastructure for Disney World are now working together. The two sides settled their counter lawsuits against each other in March.

On Wednesday evening, hours earlier, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board approved a development agreement to continue to provide support as Disney World plans its next expansion and multi-billion investments into the next two decades.

“This new development agreement paves the way for us to invest billions of dollars in Walt Disney World Resort, supporting the growth of this global destination, fueling the Florida economy, and allowing us to deliver even more memorable and extraordinary experiences for our guests,” Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle said in a statement.

There were signs at Wednesday’s CFTOD meeting that Disney was giving up the lawsuit against DeSantis. At the last minute, the Board canceled an executive session to discuss the federal lawsuit against DeSantis.

Disney and DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a Florida Politics request for comment Thursday.

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 .


  • Michael roberts

    June 13, 2024 at 5:01 pm

    Disney should have just held their breath…ron will evaporate soon. I wonder what the new agreements cost the company>

    • Mickey Mouse

      June 13, 2024 at 6:53 pm

      Disney needs to get along with the Governor. They aren’t leaving Florida and Disney can’t change Florida into Kalifornia. Not yet anyway.

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        June 13, 2024 at 7:59 pm

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  • Elvis Pitts "The Big Voice On The Right" American

    June 13, 2024 at 7:16 pm

    Disney has idiots for attorneys. A good attorney would have fanagled the system to get their beef with Florida in front of Federal Judge Robert Hinkle … yeah I know Hinkle is in the North Florida District but a decent attorney could have made that happen
    Word in the herd is Hinkle gave his wife the boot, transitioned with the Goodbye Johnson surgurey and is now Robertta “Under The Black Robe”.
    Thank you,
    Elvis Pitts American

    • Speedy y SloPoke

      June 13, 2024 at 7:27 pm

      Ha Ha Elvis,
      What are the odds Bobbie Sue Iger and Robertta get together and work this Dont Say Gay Stuff out once and for all?
      My Savant-Genius Cousin, SloPoke is rolling on the floor laughing his phat Azz off.
      Thanks Elvis

Comments are closed.


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