Disney Warns DeSantis To Back Off Or Future Projects in Florida Could Be At Risk

Central Florida finally fighting DeSantis for Disney
Ron DeSantis and Donald Duck. Credit: Disney/ Gage Skidmore, Flickr

This was a big weekend for Disney fans around the world. At the D23 Expo, Chairman of Parks, Experiences, and Products Josh D’Amaro announced several exciting changes coming to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, including a reimagining of DinoLand USA in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and what D’Amaro called the “largest expansion” of Magic Kingdom ever. 

Josh D'Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Is Going to Run Into Huge Problems With Its Florida Expansion Plans

While those announcements are exciting, it could all be for naught, as it appears the Walt Disney Company is again reconsidering its plans in Central Florida because of its feud with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Last week, Disney amended its Federal lawsuit against Governor DeSantis only to include the counts dealing with its First Amendment claims against him. Disney claims that the governor and the Florida Legislature retaliated against them for voicing its opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, known by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

So, while the Federal Lawsuit was narrowed, that means the lawsuit Disney has in state court against the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and Gov DeSantis will focus solely on Disney’s development contract, which formed the Reedy Creek Improvement District as Disney’s self-governing Board.

Ron DeSantis and Mickey Mouse

Credit: Gage Skidmore Flickr/Disney

But it is Disney’s response to the amended lawsuit that should give fans pause.

A Disney spokesperson told CNBC:

We will continue to fight vigorously to defend these contracts, because these agreements will determine whether or not Disney can invest billions of dollars and generate thousands of new jobs in Florida.

Disney has already canceled its planned Lake Nona campus, but shortly after that, it announced that it was still planning on spending $17 billion to upgrade Parks at the Walt Disney World Resort. When D’Amaro made the announcement, he said that some of that money had already been spent on projects like Tiana’s Bayou Adventure and the reimagining of EPCOT.

But now fans know how the remainder of that money might be spent, but none of the announced projects have started yet. Disney could, like it did with Lake Nona, begin the planning process and cancel if it does not get a favorable outcome.

Dinoland replacement Animal Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Disney has sued the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and Gov DeSantis seeking damages. However, Disney is looking for the courts to reinstate the Reedy Creek Improvement District as the Board overseeing Walt Disney Parks.

For the court to give Disney back its special district, it would have to undo an act by the Florida Legislature, but there is an argument Disney can make that the laws violate the contract clause in the Constitution.

Undoubtedly, this case will end up in the Florida Supreme Court and eventually the United States Supreme Court before everything is settled. In the meantime, updates at Disney World will remain in limbo while the law slowly works.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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