Disney World’s Breakup From Governing District Possible After Reports Claim Contracts Not ‘Legally Valid’

in Walt Disney World

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waving inside of a frame with the Cinderella Castle and the Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue to the right.

Credit: Edited by Inside The Magic

The possibility of Ron DeSantis’ Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) breaking loose from Walt Disney World (WDW) is becoming increasingly possible after a new report claims that the legal contracts are not “legally valid.”

DeSantis smiling near the Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom inside Walt Disney World Resort.
Credit: Inside The Magic

The DeSantis and Disney World Legal Battle Continues

The legal warfare between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Walt Disney World Resort continues to thicken as new details have emerged that could seek to separate the CFTOD and WDW from one another. But how did this political and legal drama start? Where did all of this come from?

Disney took a political stance that got Ron DeSantis even more interested in the entertainment giant when WDW spoke up and decided to take sides on a political issue that dealt with children no longer getting taught LGBTQ+ sex education from kindergarten through the fifth grade.

In response to Disney’s actions, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has shown a growing concern about Walt Disney World (WDW) and its significant influence over Florida. This prompted DeSantis to scrutinize the extent of Disney’s power in the region, ultimately leading to his decision to assume control over the former Reedy Creek district, the governing section of Walt Disney World Resort. DeSantis has restructured the district’s board to ensure closer oversight, which some view as putting his people in charge to monitor Disney’s actions.

Then, in May 2023, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) took legal action against Disney by filing a lawsuit in a Florida state court. The CFTOD board alleged that Disney had been attempting to weaken the new board’s power and making secretive deals just before the leadership transition occurred.

Ron DeSantis surrounded by Disney characters
Credit: Inside the Magic

WDW took legal action by filing a federal lawsuit against CFTOD. Disney sought unspecified damages in this lawsuit, citing significant and ongoing harm resulting from CFTOD’s new authority and structure. Disney subsequently chose to drop four of the five claims it had initially lodged against both DeSantis and the CFTOD, focusing solely on the free speech allegations.

Disney has been actively issuing multiple subpoenas, including one to the former Reedy Creek administrator, John Classe, in their efforts to collect information regarding past agreements. The aim is to compile sufficient evidence for their ongoing lawsuit, and Disney World is working diligently to make their case before the October 30 deadline.

Recently, the CFTOD has been facing allegations of insider trading and showing a solid inclination to distance itself from its association with Disney. A recent WFTV9 report revealed that the CFTOD has allocated a substantial $1 million investment in a new communication network, completely severing ties with the current WDW system. These actions were confirmed in a statement from the head of CFTOD, Glen Gilzean.

But now, reports of the CFTOD and WDW separating from one another are becoming more accurate as new information has revealed that the contracts between the two are not “legally valid.”

Mickey Mouse and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in front of the Cinderella Castle inside of Magic Kingdom Park at Disney World.
Credit: Inside the Magic

According to a new report from Fortune, the current governing body overseeing Walt Disney World, now under the control of appointees selected by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, has filed legal documents asserting that agreements previously established between Disney and the former governing district before DeSantis’s takeover, lack legal validity.

They maintain that Disney’s counterclaims, which aim to validate these agreements, should be dismissed. Disney’s counterclaims are intended to affirm the legal standing of the accords and argue that DeSantis’s allies on the district’s board violated Disney’s contractual rights, including those related to free speech and due process.

These agreements transferred authority over the design and construction aspects of Disney World from the district to Disney, along with restricting the section from utilizing Disney’s intellectual property or characters without explicit permission.

These agreements were executed in February before DeSantis assumed control over the district. DeSantis’s appointees contend that these contracts substantially curtailed the district’s powers, which include the provision of municipal services to Disney World.

According to the CFTOD:

Disney has failed to allege any facts that demonstrate the existence of damages.

Follow Inside The Magic for more news on the ever-growing legal and political feud between Ron DeSantis and Disney World.

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