Disney No Longer Holding Back in Fight Against Desantis Board, Former Board Leader Court Ordered

in Walt Disney World

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with the Magic Kingdom Disney World Park in the background.

Credit: Inside The Magic

It would seem that Disney World is no longer holding anything back in its fight against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his board, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD).

The Cinderella Castle inside of Magic Kingdom at Disney World and with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to the left.
Credit: Inside the Magic

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The Legal Battle Against Disney World, Ron Desantis, and Reedy Creek Continues

For those unaware, Walt Disney World (WDW) and Florida Ron DeSantis have been in a legal battle since April of this year. DeSantis took over the former Reedy Creek District and turned it into the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Then, in April of this year, WDW sued the Florida Governor after DeSantis went on a tarnishing spree, calling out the House of Mouse for standing their ground on a political issue where a new Florida bill was passed prohibiting children (preschool through the 3rd grade) from being taught gender identity and understanding sexual orientation.

The media dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, even though no concrete evidence indicates that the bill intended not to allow school children to say “gay.” WDW took a stance with this hot debate and stood on the side of the LGBTQ+ community. DeSantis was not okay with this political stance as Disney World is a theme park where people of all backgrounds enjoy attractions and frequent the parks, stating that Disney has no right to speak up for anyone other than themselves.

Since then, WDW has issued a lawsuit against the Florida Governor and its governing district after DeSantis told media outlets that Disney had too much power over a large portion of Florida. But as stated, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) filed a reply brief to Disney’s federal lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis and the district board. The brief argues that the court should either abstain or entirely dismiss the case.

An image to the left of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with a photo to the right of the Magic Kingdom castle with a vs. graphic in the middle.
Credit: Edited by Inside The Magic

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The lawsuit centers on Walt Disney World’s special tax district. Disney’s federal court motion states that Disney faces “concrete, imminent, and ongoing injury” due to CFTOD’s new powers and composition, which are being used to punish Disney for expressing a political view. 

The DeSantis appointees are now challenging the legality of the agreements in state court. Disney has filed counterclaims against the board of supervisors. Lawyers representing Governor DeSantis and the CFTOD have requested a federal judge to throw out Disney’s legal case, claiming a First Amendment violation.

Disney was said to have a looming deadline of October 19, 2023, but with no response. However, a recent report by Scott Gustin discloses that The Walt Disney Company has been given an extension through October 30, 2023.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis smiling while looking at the Cinderella Castle inside the Magic Kingdom at Disney World.
Credit: Inside The Magic

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Disney seems to be holding nothing back, as they have now sent out an official subpoena to the former Reedy Creek District Administrator John Classe. Disney wants to question the former administrator and is seeking legal documents.

According to a new report from Fortune, Disney’s legal team is pursuing various records from Classe, including documents related to the adoption of contracts, documents that validate the district’s authority to engage in these contracts, and information regarding the publicity and dissemination of these agreements. This information was outlined in court documents filed on Monday.
Disney is full steam ahead as they try to beat that October 30 deadline and get as much new information to help their lawsuit as possible, including any documents and answers from the former Reedy Creek District Administrator.
Classe held a position of authority within the district when the governing body entered into agreements with Disney. These agreements transferred control over design and construction at Disney World to Disney, and they also included provisions prohibiting the district from utilizing Disney characters or other intellectual property without Disney’s consent.
These agreements were finalized in February, before the district’s change in leadership due to the appointment of DeSantis appointees. The new appointees argue that these contracts significantly restricted their authority, leading them to file a lawsuit against Disney in state court to nullify the agreements.
For more of the latest news regarding this special district lawsuit, follow Inside The Magic.

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