Major New Twist in Disney vs. DeSantis Saga


Another day, another turn in the ongoing battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company.

It’s been quite the saga between Florida and Disney, all stemming from a political boycott of The Walt Disney Company due to former Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, criticizing the Florida Parental Rights in Education law (otherwise called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill).

Disney filed a lawsuit back on April 26, suing Ron DeSantis, claiming “a targeted campaign of government retaliation,” and now, there’s a twist in the continuing Disney legal news.


Credit: ABC

In an unexpected update, Disney today, May 16, has asked a Florida court to dismiss a lawsuit by Governor DeSantis’ handpicked board of supervisors.

We’ve seen some major drama in the last few weeks between the Florida Governor and Disney executives, with the governor fulfilling his promise to remove Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District before being quietly outsmarted by Disney.

Since 1967, the Walt Disney World Resort had been able to reside in Florida unregulated. Reedy Creek allowed Disney to act with the same authority as a county government. Local taxpayers – residents of Orange County and Osceola County – did not have to pay for building or maintaining Disney’s essential services.

The feud has escalated beyond the boardroom into the courtroom and now a new twist has fueled speculation that the Disney vs. DeSantis battle will affect the Florida Governor’s Presidential chances.

Disney World Signage

Credit: Disney Lists

Disney Lawsuit Drama

Let’s look at the details. A board appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to oversee government services at the Walt Disney World Resort voted on April 26 to nullify two agreements that gave Disney control over the 25,000-acre property.

The former Reedy Creek Development board had signed its power back to Disney before leaving office, a binding declaration that didn’t expire until England’s new King Charles III’s ancestors die out. The agreement severely handicapped the new Ron DeSantis-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.

Almost immediately, Disney filed a lawsuit against Governor DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Board. Disney claimed that they were being targeted simply for exercising their First Amendment right.

But then, just days later, the Central Florida Tourism Board announced that they were suing Disney in return. The board claimed they were battling Disney’s aim to maintain control, which “went against the will of Florida voters” and would not stand up in court.

reedy creek

Credit: Jacksonville Business Journal

The New Twist

A week after The Central Florida Tourism Board countersued Disney, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that now voids the agreements Disney made with the old Reedy Creek board.

Because Florida Governor DeSantis signed that bill, Disney has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the new board. Disney claims that, because of the new law, the board’s lawsuit is moot. As per a CNBC report:

Disney on Tuesday asked a Florida court to dismiss a lawsuit by the board of supervisors that Gov. Ron DeSantis had handpicked to oversee Walt Disney World’s operations.

The court filing argues that the lawsuit has been rendered moot after DeSantis signed a bill that voided Disney’s development deals, which are at now at the center of the long-running conflict between Disney and the Republican governor.

By signing that legislation, DeSantis essentially carried out the same action that the board is asking the court to take, Disney argued.
bob-iger ceo disney

Credit: Disney

In Disney’s most recent motion, the company defended its deals with the board, claiming that when “faced with a newly hostile state administration,” Disney tried to protect its investments in central Florida. Disney said in a motion:

Just over a year ago, Disney expressed a political view that Governor DeSantis did not like. In response, the Governor unleashed a campaign of retaliation, weaponizing the power of government to punish Disney for its protected speech. 

In a statement to CNBC, a spokesman for the special tax district that the board oversees said, “This motion by Disney is entirely predictable and an acknowledgment they know they will lose this case.”

During a shareholders meeting earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger called Florida’s actions retaliatory as well as “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.” Adding taxes and tolls to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom brought significant criticism to the DeSantis board.

Bob Iger has also noted that future investment in Walt Disney World could be at risk if the government retaliation continued; the company has earmarked more than $17 billion in spending at the Central Florida resort over the next decade, growth that would create an estimated 13,000 jobs at the company.

We’ll keep you updated on this developing story.

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who has worked at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Adventures by Disney! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her husband, an Air Force pilot. Find her children's book at