The Mouse Heads to Court: Disney is SUING DeSantis


The battle between Ron DeSantis and Disney has now fully entered its Disney Hero versus Villain stage.

It seems Mickey Mouse and the Florida Governor are headed to court, after Disney filed a lawsuit today, April 26, suing DeSantis, the board, and other state officials in federal court, claiming “a targeted campaign of government retaliation.”

Amid a political boycott of The Walt Disney Company and its former CEO Bob Chapek, the Florida Governor fulfilled his promise to remove Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District – but after being outsmarted by Disney, it now seems the feud has escalated beyond the boardroom.


Credit: ABC

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

Within minutes, Disney sued Mr. DeSantis. A spokeswoman for Mr. DeSantis had no immediate comment.

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.

reedy creek

Credit: Jacksonville Business Journal

In a move that seemed to outsmart the Governor, the former Reedy Creek Development board then signed its power back to Disney before leaving office, a binding declaration that doesn’t expire until England’s monarchy dies out. The agreement severely handicapped the new Ron DeSantis-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.

Signed into effect on February 8, just as the Florida House passed the legislation to take control of Reedy Creek Improvement District, the new agreement gave Disney control of the RCID and prevented the new board from making any changes to the agreement. One of the agreements gave Disney the ability to build 14,000 additional hotel rooms, a fifth theme park, and three smaller Disney Parks in Central Florida. The other restricts the use of abutting land; no strip clubs, for instance.

DeSantis escalated his Disney fight by threatening tolls, taxes, and even a state prison. He also said that an effort was underway to give the state new authority to override safety inspections at Walt Disney World, including the beloved Monorail transportation system.

Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

All of this public fallout has stemmed from Disney criticizing the Florida Parental Rights in Education law, otherwise labeled “Don’t Say Gay” by critics.

The Walt Disney Company Lawsuit Against DeSantis

Disney’s lawsuit accuses DeSantis of a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint.” The campaign “now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”

Disney’s lawsuit further called the board’s action “patently retaliatory, patently anti-business and patently unconstitutional.” A 77-page document fully detailing Disney’s lawsuit was released soon after the board’s meeting, meaning Disney had been planning for the board’s expected nullification vote.

The nullification vote by the board came today after its general counsel, Daniel Langley, presented evidence of what he called “self-dealing” and “procedural unconscionability” by Disney in pushing through the agreements earlier this year. Mr. Langley and another board lawyer said Disney violated Florida law in multiple ways, including by failing to fully notify the public of the actions it took.

Bob iger

Credit: Fox Business

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 in this ongoing feud.

Daniel M. Petrocelli, a high-powered Los Angeles litigator, filed the complaints on Disney’s behalf in the United States District Court in Tallahassee.

It seems the Republican party belief that corporations get First Amendment rights, including Freedom of Speech, means Ron DeSantis is directly violating these values and constitutional laws. “A company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do,” Mr. Iger said at Disney’s annual shareholder meeting.

Bob Iger has also highlighted that future investment in 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. Disney paid and collected a total of $1.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2022, according to company disclosures.

We will keep you posted on the latest news 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