Florida Judge Rules Against DeSantis Board, Hands Disney Huge Victory

in Disney, Walt Disney World

Governor Ron DeSantis looking surprised by the Walt and Mickey statue at Disney World

Credit: CBS/Inside the Magic

The judge in the case between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Walt Disney World has made a huge ruling in favor of the House of Mouse, increasing pressure on the struggling presidential candidate.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis smiling awkwardly with Mickey Mouse
Credit: Inside the Magic

Currently, there are two different lawsuits between DeSantis and Disney, both of which have become mired down with demands to have the cases dismissed and accusations of withholding evidence. However, it now appears that Disney has a definite edge in the Florida state case, formally known as Central Florida Tourism Oversight District vs. Walt Disney Parks & Resorts US Inc.

DeSantis vs Disney

The issues between DeSantis and the Walt Disney Company have been boiling over for months but originally began when former CEO Bob Chapek expressed public opposition to the controversial Parental Rights in Education Act, better known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Governor DeSantis immediately began accusing the iconic media company of pushing “radical leftist politics” and sexualizing minors, both of which were denied by the company.

Related: DeSantis Looks to Build Theme Park That Will Rival Disney World

Reedy Creek signage outside of building
Credit: CBS News

Around that same time, DeSantis dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the special tax area around Walt Disney World that had essentially empowered the company to act as the local government in exchange for things like shouldering tax burdens (not to mention being the largest single-site employer in the state).

The Reedy Creek Improvement District was replaced by the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and staffed with a board of directors handpicked by DeSantis, many of whom quickly became entangled in ethics violations and bizarre fake history seminars.

However, Walt Disney World did not let its power in Central Florida so easily.

Central Florida Power Struggles

Even as Governor DeSantis widely touted the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District as a victory for Florida, Disney was performing legal maneuvers to maintain its contractual authority even after the new board was installed.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with the Magic Kingdom Disney World Park in the background.
Credit: Inside The Magic

The blindsided Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board swiftly sued Disney, claiming that “[f=or almost one year, the district has been forced to govern under the shadow of two eleventh-hour agreements between Disney and the prior RCID board that Disney controlled. These agreements … purport to pin the district under Disney’s thumb for decades by, among other things, curbing all development in the district unless Disney approves it.”

Basically, the board claims that Disney used sneaky means to hold onto authority over the district, while Disney says everything was above board, publically announced, and that the board just didn’t pay attention.

Disney’s Discovery Materials

Recently, Disney claimed that the Central Florida board was dragging its feet on providing relevant evidence in the case and “dodging its obligations.” As part of this, the House of Mouse requested that the hearing in the case be postponed 75 days, so the board would have to provide discovery materials.

Ron DeSantis surrounded by Disney characters
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Former DeSantis Ally Turns, Sends 1,200 Employees to Party at Disney

For its part, the board tried to claim that no amount of discovery would make a difference in the case, which seems very close to saying, “We don’t think we should have to.” Currently, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District is asking the judge to declare Disney’s contracts null and void in a summary judgment, essentially handing them the authority they feel they should have had to begin with (per the Orlando Business Journal).

Unfortunately, Judge Margaret H. Schreiber has sided with Disney (per Law360) and postponed the case until an unspecified time in 2024, giving the House of Mouse a huge amount of time to get its case together and further demand evidence from the board.

This is yet another huge setback for DeSantis and his board. Maybe they’ll be able to keep enough employees to keep things going until next year.

Do you think Disney or DeSantis will win the case? Give us your opinions in the comments below!

View Comments (45)