Disney World and Florida Governor Reach Settlement Agreement

Settlement Agreement Reached

In a surprising turn of events, allies of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney have reached a settlement agreement in a state court fight over the development of Walt Disney World. The agreement was approved by the board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, putting an end to almost two years of litigation that began when DeSantis took over the district from Disney supporters due to the company’s opposition to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Background of the Dispute

The “Don’t Say Gay” law, passed in 2022, prohibits classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades. DeSantis, a Republican, championed the law and used Disney as a target in his speeches until he suspended his presidential campaign. The district, which provides municipal services such as firefighting and planning, had been controlled by Disney supporters for most of its existence.

Terms of the Settlement

Under the settlement agreement, covenants and a development agreement made by Disney supporters on the board before the state takeover will be dropped. The new board will operate under an earlier plan, and Disney and the board will negotiate a new development agreement in the near future. The agreement also puts on hold the appeal of a federal lawsuit and drops two state lawsuits against the district.

Reactions to the Settlement

Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, expressed his pleasure at the settlement, stating that it opens a new chapter of constructive engagement with the new leadership of the district. Governor DeSantis, who was in Orlando at the time of the announcement, stated that he felt vindicated by the settlement and that the “eleventh-hour covenants and restrictions were never going to be valid.”

Implications of the Settlement

The settlement marks a turning point in the governance of Walt Disney World and the relationship between Disney and the state of Florida. Both sides have expressed a desire to move forward and work together for the benefit of the community and the economy. The settlement also signals a shift in the political landscape of the district, with new board members appointed by DeSantis and a more cooperative approach with Disney.

Key Players in the Settlement

– Ron DeSantis: Florida Governor who took over the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District
– Walt Disney World: Theme park resort at the center of the dispute
– Jeff Vahle: President of Walt Disney World Resort
– Craig Mateer: Orlando businessman appointed to the board by DeSantis
– Stephanie Kopelousos: Former DeSantis advisor appointed as the district’s new administrator


The settlement agreement between Disney and the state of Florida marks the end of a long-standing dispute over the governance of Walt Disney World. Both sides have agreed to put aside their differences and work together for the benefit of the community and the economy. The agreement paves the way for a new chapter of cooperation and collaboration between Disney and the state, ensuring continued investment and job creation in the region.”

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