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DeSantis and Disney Seal Billion Dollar Agreement for Fifth Florida Park

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with the Magic Kingdom Disney World Park in the background.
Credit: Inside The Magic

On June 12, 2024, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) officially approved a new 15-year plan in agreement with the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The new agreement called for an investment of $17 billion at the resort over the next two decades, and this approval grants Disney the ability to construct a fifth theme park.

This agreement comes after a somewhat contentious time for both Florida and Disney, who have been embroiled in controversy and legal trouble for the last several years.

This news was confirmed by reporter Scott Gustin, who shared the information on Twitter/X.

The CFTOD board has officially given final approval to a new 15-year development agreement with Walt Disney World. The deal calls for an investment of $17 billion from Walt Disney World over the next 10-20 years, with Disney spending at least $8 billion over the next decade.

Related: In Debt for Disney: Study Shows Unfortunate Trend

It’s unknown exactly what this new agreement will mean for both Florida and Walt Disney World, but it has incredibly large ramifications for both parties.

The massive $17 billion budget will undoubtedly aid in the development and creation of new theme park rides and attractions. Disney CEO Bob Iger recently announced that the company would be spending $60 billion on its theme parks over the next decade. This agreement allows $17 billion of this budget to be allocated to Walt Disney World.

The Orlando Resort is currently in the middle of several exciting projects, most notably Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, a new ride set to open this summer at Magic Kingdom.

A new version of Disney’s classic ‘Country Bears’ attraction is also happening at Magic Kingdom. Disney has teased its plans to greatly improve the park’s Frontierland area, and rumors indicate that Disney’s annual D23 Expo later this year will bring major news for theme park fans.

Ron DeSantis giving a thumbs up in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance sign under a blue sky.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Notorious “Disney Dad” Among FBI’s Most Wanted Fugitives Still on the Run

The CFTOD was created in 2023 following months of political turmoil between the state of Florida and The Walt Disney Company, all of which stemmed from Disney’s decision to criticize Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education Act.

This piece of legislation has become synonymous with the governor and is considered to be one of the most controversial new laws in modern politics.

As defined by NPR, DeSantis’ legislation “Prohibits any instruction about sexuality or gender between kindergarten and third grade, or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill was introduced in 2022, with many companies and organizations criticizing it for targeting LGBTQ+ individuals in schools. Disney joined in, with former CEO Bob Chapek issuing a statement regarding the bill.

This led Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to threaten Disney with legal action because the company owns and operates a massive theme park within the state.

DeSantis threatened to strip away Disney’s special protections in Florida through the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, a ruling that essentially allowed Walt Disney World to act as its own government.

Eventually, DeSantis and the state of Florida overtook this district, renaming it the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. However, Disney didn’t back down without a fight, filing multiple lawsuits against the state of Florida and DeSantis as a result.

With this new ruling, it seems most of the animosity between the two has died down, with the new $17 billion budget having large implications for the Walt Disney World Resort’s future.

Stay tuned here for all Disney theme park news updates. 

About Luke Dammann

When at Disney world, Luke will probably be found eating with his favorite animatronic, Sonny Eclipse at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. When not at Disney World, Luke will probably be found defending Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe to people who claim "there are better restaurants"

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