Disney Sued by Florida for Control of Theme Park’s Expansion

In the latest chapter in the dispute between Disney and the state of Florida, a newly appointed commission for special tax districts, including Walt Disney World, sued the company in Orlando on Monday, claiming that the company would be forced to sell its products at the theme park complex. Attempted to regain control over expansion.

The district complaint includes two agreements Disney World entered into with the former Disney-controlled board of directors. The agreement, which was adopted at a public forum, is a comprehensive growth plan that includes the potential construction of a fifth theme park and 14,000 additional hotel rooms for Disney on his 25,000-acre property near Orlando. is confirmed.

“These agreements reek of backroom deals,” the district’s new commission said in a 188-page lawsuit filed in state court. “Out of haste or ignorance, Disney’s transactions violate the basic principles of Florida’s constitutional, statutory and common law. As a result, they are void and not even worth the printed paper.”

Disney declined to comment.

The much-anticipated lawsuit is the latest in a 14-month-long dispute between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney World, the state’s largest taxpayer and the nation’s largest single-site employer. volley. Last week, after the new board voted to void the development agreement, Disney sued Mr. DeSantis and the new board members, alleging a “targeted campaign of government retaliation.” Disney filed a lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee.

The dispute began in March 2022 when Disney joined other companies in criticizing state education laws that ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity, especially among young students. Mr. DeSantis and his Republican supporters in the Florida legislature soon began attacking Disney as an “awake” corporation and embarking on an effort to limit the autonomy that has been maintained within the state for years.

At the center of the battle is the 56-year-old Special Tax District, which includes Disney World. And importantly, it gave them extraordinary control over the planning of real estate developments.

In February, legislators stripped Disney of control of the district’s five-member board and handed it over to the governor. Approved the Development Agreement and was furious to learn that the new board’s powers would be limited for decades to come.

Disney has repeatedly described the agreement as “appropriate” and is going on strike at public meetings advertised in The Orlando Sentinel. A Florida attorney not affiliated with Disney and an expert on Florida development contracts say Disney acted lawfully.

In Monday’s lawsuit, the new board said otherwise, arguing the deal was illegal. I haven’t told them enough,” he said.

In particular, new board members seek to regain control over growth plans already cleared by the DeSantis administration.

But that was before Disney took the additional step of finalizing the approval, fearing the new, politicized board of directors could interfere with its growth plans.

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