Disney and DeSantis Settle Suit Over Florida Special District

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The Walt Disney Company and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida have reached a settlement over control of a special tax district that includes the Disney World theme park in Orlando, the company said on Wednesday.

“We are pleased to put an end to all litigation pending in state court in Florida,” Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World, said in a statement. He added that the agreement “opens a new chapter of constructive engagement” and would allow the company to continue to invest in the resort.

Disney and Mr. DeSantis have been fighting for two years over Disney World, the 25,000-acre theme park and resort complex south of Orlando and one of the state’s largest employers.

In response to Disney’s criticism of a Florida education law that opponents called “Don’t Say Gay,” Mr. DeSantis took over the tax district, appointing a new board and ending the company’s long-held ability to self-govern Disney World as if it were a county.

Before the takeover took effect, however, Disney signed contracts — quietly, but in publicly advertised meetings — to lock in development plans worth some $17 billion over the next decade. An effort by Mr. DeSantis and his allies to void the contracts resulted in Disney suing Mr. DeSantis and the tax district in federal court. The new appointees then sued the company in state court.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District held a meeting on Wednesday in which the board discussed a settlement that was proposed by Disney.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit Disney filed against Mr. DeSantis in January and the company promptly vowed to appeal. As part of the settlement on Wednesday, Disney agreed to pause that effort but not drop it entirely.

This month the State of Florida and a group of parents and teachers challenging the education law reached a settlement that clarified its reach. That settlement made clear that the law applied only to formal classroom instruction.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.



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