UPDATE: Disney and DeSantis Head Back to Court, Settlement Trashed

in Walt Disney World

Ron DeSantis speaking within a courtroom setting.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney and Governor Ron DeSantis recently agreed to a legal settlement after months of courtroom battles, but it turns out that the Mouse isn’t ready to let bygones be bygones quite yet.

Ron DeSantis against Disney World castle
Credit: Inside the Magic

Is Disney Backing out on the DeSantis Truce?

While the Walt Disney Company is one of the major economic powerhouses of the state of Florida, it has frequently not gotten along with Ron DeSantis, its chief executive.

Most infamously, Disney and DeSantis ended up in a months-long legal conflict after former CEO Bob Chapek eventually took a public stance against the governor’s Parental Rights in Education Act, often referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The iconic media company and the governor clashed, DeSantis dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement District (where the majority of the Walt Disney World Resort is located), and multiple lawsuits were filed by both parties.

Ron DeSantis superimposed over Cinderella's castle
Credit: DeSantis/Disney

But after numerous jabs in the media and courtroom setbacks on both sides, Disney and the Ron DeSantis-controlled Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (which replaced Reedy Creek) board of supervisors unexpectedly announced that they had reached a settlement. According to the agreement, both sides would basically drop things, and no one had to admit they were wrong; in fact, Stipulation 12 reads that it”shall not in any way be construed as an admission by any party that it acted wrongfully and or illegally in any manner with respect to the other party.”

However, it seems that it might not be that easy for Disney or DeSantis to just let things go and continue on with business as it was during the Reedy Creek era. The governor has repeatedly been jabbing against Disney in the press, which a Disney expert feels is somewhat contrary to the expressed spirit of the settlement, and it seems that Disney has made its own new legal move.

Related: Anti-Wokeness, Gay Days, and DeSantis: A Disney Expert Weighs In

Disney’s Federal Appeal

Ron DeSantis with duct tape over his mouth with Mickey Mouse peeking out of the corner inside a court room.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Not that long ago, Governor DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) board loudly proclaimed their victory over the Mouse after U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor ruled against the media company in Disney v. DeSantis, which argued that the governor had violated its First Amendment-protected right to free speech.

In his 17-page ruling, Judge Winsor stated, “Disney does not possess the legal standing to bring a lawsuit against the Governor or the Secretary. Furthermore, its allegations against the CFTOD Defendants lack merit, as ‘when a statute is facially constitutional, a plaintiff cannot bring a free-speech challenge by claiming that the lawmakers who passed it acted with a constitutionally impermissible purpose.’”

Ron DeSantis superimposed over Walt Disney World
Credit: CNN/Disney, edited by ITM

To summarize, the judge said that Disney didn’t have the right to sue DeSantis and the CFTOD, which definitely made the governor and his allies happy. Unsurprisingly, the company immediately filed an appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court. Observers expected that the settlement between Disney and the CFTOD would have caused the company to drop the appeal, but it turns out quite the opposite.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has requested a 60-day extension on its federal lawsuit appeal (per WUSF NPR), stating that it needs to “facilitate negotiations.” According to the filing, Disney’s opening brief was set for April 17; if the extension is granted, it would take place on June 17 instead.

Related: Governor DeSantis Shuts Down $200 Million Disney Marijuana Bill

Disney’s specific reason for “negotiations” is currently unclear, though it can be inferred that the company is trying to work out some kind of new settlement with DeSantis and the CFTOD outside the courtroom. The language in the settlement dated March 26 is likely purposefully vague, which means that the two parties have a lot to still work out.

Although Disney and DeSantis seem to have taken a small breather in their conflict, it very well could be that the conflict is about the flare-up once again.

UPDATE: An appellate court has approved Disney’s request to delay the upcoming appeal of Disney v. DeSantis for a two-month period (per AP News). Inside the Magic will continue to report on this developing story.

Do you think Disney and DeSantis will keep fighting legal battles? Tell Inside the Magic your opinion in the comments below!

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