DeSantis-created board files suit against Disney

After Disney filed a suit in federal court, a board created by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will file a suit against Disney in state court.
A statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse stands in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom.
Posted at 11:35 AM, May 02, 2023

A week after The Walt Disney Co. filed a lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in federal court, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board said it would file its own lawsuit against Disney. 

Board Chair Martin Garcia said the board would “seek justice in state court here in Central Florida where it and Disney reside and do business. Yes, we’ll seek justice in our own backyard.”

In February, DeSantis signed legislation that effectively strips Disney of its control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The district was created in 1967 and given the same governing power as a county government. It was part of an agreement between Disney and the state to develop 38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swamp land into one of the world’s largest tourist attractions.

Garcia argued that Disney is attempting to ask a federal court to “wrestle back the hands of time to 1967, while this board is charged legislatively to bringing the district into the 21st century with new and better policies and practices.”

People visit the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort

DeSantis appointees begin reshaping Disney World's government district

New board members are proposing to eliminate a planning board and prohibit mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccine requirements, among other things.


Disney claimed that the board was created in retaliation for company leaders speaking out against the Parental Rights in Education bill.

The Parental Rights in Education bill passed in 2022 placed limits on discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms. Opponents dubbed the legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

But Garcia argues that the board is intended to bring new ideas to the district.

“The task of this board is to promote better governance and evaluate a new and better zoning structure for the district among other things,” Garcia said.