DeSantis’ tourism board votes to sue Disney over company retaliation case

A view of the Walt Disney World theme park entrance on 11 July 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo: Octavio Jones / Getty Images)

The Ron DeSantis-appointed board of the municipal authority overseeing Walt Disney’s parks voted Monday to sue the company, following a complaint Disney filed last week against the Florida governor.

Members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District authorised a lawsuit in state court in the Orlando area and also agreed to defend the federal lawsuit Disney filed last week in Tallahassee.

“We have no choice but to respond,” Martin Garcia, chairman of the district’s board of supervisor, said in a meeting Monday. “This district will seek justice in state court here in central Florida where it and Disney reside and do business.”

The vote is the latest twist in a political drama that has played out since Disney criticised DeSantis-backed legislation last year that limited what schools can teach about gender and sexuality. DeSantis appointed the district’s board to replace another one that had been in place for decades and allowed Disney to govern itself.

Disney sued after the oversight district voted to halt contracts that would allow the company, which employs 75,000 people in Florida, to expand its Orlando complex. The company’s lawsuit complained the governor’s actions were retaliatory, anti-business and unconstitutional.

DeSantis, a Republican and potential 2024 presidential candidate, sought to seize control of the local governing jurisdiction set up in 1967 that gave Disney great autonomy to manage to day-to-day operations of Disney World and its other Central Florida theme parks. But Disney outmanoeuvered the governor by quietly pushing through changes that weakened the municipal authority chosen by DeSantis.

Disney is one of the largest taxpayers in central Florida, contributing more than $1.1-billion in state and local taxes last year. Disney is also one of the largest employers in the state. The company emphasised its economic importance to Florida in its suit.

The case is Walt Disney Parks and Resorts v DeSantis, 23-cv-00163, US District Court, Northern District of Florida (Tallahassee).


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jennifer Hughes says:

    I hope Disney stamps all over these ultra-conservative hateful Republicans who think ‘different’ is wrong and human rights only apply to a select few.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options