DeSantis District Limits Disney World Developments for the Next 10 Years

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

A man in a blue suit with a red tie stands superimposed on an image of disneyland featuring sleeping beauty's castle under a bright rainbow.

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A new agreement has been made between Disney and the state of Florida.

A crowd of people gather around the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World. The castle is adorned in blue and gold spires, while the people wear various casual outfits, enjoying the lively atmosphere of the park.
Credit: Nicholas Fuentes, Unsplash

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Walt Disney World and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) have reached a new agreement regarding development plans for the next 10 years at the Florida resort. This new agreement sets limits on Disney World’s developments over the next decade and encompasses over 17,000 acres.

Per a filing in the Orlando Sentinel, the development was redrawn as part of the settlement reached between Disney and the CFTOD. Under this agreement, the CFTOD will drop its own development plans and partner with Disney to draft all future projects.

Ron DeSantis giving a thumbs up in front of the Magic Kingdom entrance sign under a blue sky.
Credit: Inside the Magic

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To briefly recap, in 2022, it was revealed that The Walt Disney Company backhandedly supported Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education Act, or as it is more commonly known, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This legislation prohibits instruction about sexuality and gender at school for all minors between kindergarten and third grade.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis championed this bill, claiming gender orientation and LGBTQ+ education had no place in public schools.

In recent years, Disney has made great efforts to be as welcoming and supportive to all people groups as possible, but the fact that the company supported sponsors of this bill seemed to conflict with Disney’s inclusivity efforts.

As a result, The Walt Disney Company faced a mountain of controversy and backlash. This continued for quite some time until former Disney CEO Bob Chapek issued a statement, one that would prove to be just as controversial.

Disney publicly denounced this new bill entirely, prompting outrage from Republicans, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who threatened Disney with legal action. DeSantis attacked Disney from every angle, threatening to kick Walt Disney World out of Florida and strip Disney of its special protections.

DeSantis also threatened to raise hotel taxes, alter the resort’s Monorail systems, and build a new state prison right next to the Walt Disney World Resort. Eventually, DeSantis and the state of Florida were successful, with Disney losing control of its Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special ruling that had allowed the theme park resort to act as its own form of limited government for decades.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District was formed, with DeSantis hand-picking department heads and chiefs to control what Disney could and could not do. This marked a massive shift for Disney and was one of the most high-profile battles the company had ever seen.

A person in a suit and tie is shown in front of a large rainbow flag. The flag's colors are vibrant, waving against a clear sky. The person appears to be making an expression as they look slightly to the right.
Credit: Inside the Magic

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Today’s new agreement lists limitations on how much the Walt Disney World Resort can expand over the next 10 years. In the agreement, Disney World is limited to a total of 54,467 hotel rooms, 1,732,887 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 1,258,564 square feet of office space.

The new agreement also includes details regarding theme park development, limiting Disney to five “major” theme parks and five “minor” theme parks. While this may look exciting on paper, it does not mean that The Walt Disney Company is currently planning on opening a fifth theme park. It simply means that Disney could build a fifth theme park in the next ten years, as allowed by the CFTOD.

This new development agreement will be presented for a reading after this summer on June 5 during a Board of Supervisors meeting.

Stay tuned here for all future Walt Disney World news updates. 

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