DeSantis Appointees Patch Things Up With Disney by Approving New Development Deal

Governor Ron DeSantis’ appointees approved an agreement on Wednesday that resolves the conflict between Disney and the governing district of Walt Disney World. This conflict arose two years ago when Disney publicly opposed a state law known as “Don’t Say Gay.”

The five board members appointed by DeSantis to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District unanimously agreed to a 15-year development deal. As part of this deal, the district will make infrastructure improvements in exchange for Disney investing up to $17 billion in Disney World over the next twenty years.

Following a truce in March, both parties agreed to cease litigation and focus on negotiating a new development agreement and comprehensive plan by next year. The district, which provides municipal services, was previously controlled by Disney supporters before the DeSantis appointees took over.

Brian Aungst, a board member, stated at the meeting that the agreement establishes a lasting and stable framework for collaboration between Disney and the board.

Under the terms of the deal, Disney must donate up to 100 acres of land for infrastructure projects controlled by the district. Additionally, the company must award at least half of its construction projects to Florida-based companies and allocate $10 million towards affordable housing in central Florida.

Disney will have the opportunity to build a fifth major theme park and two additional minor parks at Disney World. The company can also expand its hotel rooms, retail space, and restaurant offerings on the property, subject to certain conditions.

Orlando’s tourism industry leaders praised the agreement for its potential to boost jobs, tourism, and overall attention to central Florida.

While the settlement was welcomed, an appeal of a federal lawsuit filed by Disney against DeSantis and his appointees remains pending. Disney has until next week to decide whether to proceed with the case.

Disney did not provide a comment on their next steps, and a closed-door discussion about the lawsuit was canceled by the DeSantis appointees following the board meeting.

The settlement marked the end of a legal battle that began when DeSantis took control of the district due to Disney’s opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The conflict resulted in lawsuits and counterclaims, all of which were dismissed as part of the March agreement.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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