Bob Iger Confesses to Ron DeSantis Team-Up, Substantial Changes Coming for Disney World

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A juxtaposition of celebration and exasperation: fireworks burst in joy above a magical castle at Disney World, while Ron DeSantis appears to let out a vociferous cheer or yell.

Credit: Inside The Magic

Earlier last week, Disney CEO Bob Iger and the Walt Disney Company held its most recent shareholder meeting, indulging that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) helped pave the way for the Disney World expansion projects.

Governor DeSantis smiling broadly with an image of cinderella's castle at walt disney world.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Ron DeSantis, CFTOD, Helped Pave Way for Future Walt Disney World Expansion Projects

According to Deadline, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger has lauded the recent litigation settlement with the special district board appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis, which oversees the company’s Florida theme park properties, as a “win-win” situation.

At last week’s shareholders meeting, Iger emphasized that the settlement “will enable us to pursue the kinds of significant investment in our Florida parks.” Having previously expressed concerns about ongoing investments amid a protracted battle with DeSantis, Iger highlighted the potential for these investments to generate “thousands of direct and indirect jobs and economic opportunity” in the state.

The settlement, voted on by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board last week, renders development agreements and comprehensive plans passed by the Reedy Creek Improvement District null and void. Instead, the plan endorsed by the CFTOD will prevail, with consultations between the District, Disney, and relevant stakeholders regarding potential amendments.

Ron DeSantis waving with a smile, superimposed over an image of the colorful entrance to walt disney world, suggests a greeting or a celebratory moment at the renowned theme park.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Additionally, the settlement entails the voluntary dismissal with prejudice of claims and counterclaims in the state court lawsuit, preventing their re-filing. Despite a federal lawsuit filed by Disney against the District and Gov. DeSantis, currently under appeal following an initial ruling against the company, Iger views the settlement as mutually beneficial for Disney and the CFTOD.

Following a string of notable Disney Parks expansions, including the World of Frozen at Hong Kong Disneyland, Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the eagerly anticipated Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disneyland Resort, CEO Bob Iger left fans disappointed by revealing that he had “nothing” to share regarding the previously-promised $60 billion investment in Disney theme parks over the next decade.

Meanwhile, Disney finds itself embroiled in ongoing federal litigation against Governor Ron DeSantis over his decision to strip the company of control of the theme park district. The legal dispute arose after Disney voiced opposition to parental rights legislation, colloquially known as the “don’t say gay” law, prompting accusations of retaliation from the governor.

Sunset hues cast a dramatic backdrop over the iconic cinderella castle and the statue of walt disney and mickey mouse at a bustling disney theme park.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Although a federal judge dismissed the case earlier this year, Disney has agreed to delay court proceedings pending negotiations on a new development agreement with the oversight district board. At the shareholders meeting, Disney faced off against a series of proposals reflecting ongoing culture war battles.

One such proposal, presented by the progressive Educational Foundation of America, targeted Disney’s political contributions to individuals opposing climate change measures, supporting anti-abortion laws, and endorsing Donald Trump’s contested election conspiracy theories. Another proposal, spearheaded by the conservative National Legal and Policy Center, urged Disney to cover the costs of gender de-transitioning care.

Additionally, a third proposal from the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research demanded transparency regarding Disney’s charitable contributions of $5,000 or more on their website, alleging the company’s support of specific agendas through donations to organizations like The Trevor Project and GLSEN.

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