Disney and DeSantis have settled their yearslong dispute

A yearslong fight between Disney and Florida is set to end after the two parties agreed to a settlement.

In a meeting Wednesday morning, members of the board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, a body that governs the special tax district Disney is located in, approved a settlement to end a legal dispute.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis set up the Central Florida Tourism District to oversee the area in which Disney operates nearly two years ago, amid a growing conflict between the Florida governor and the entertainment giant.

The war of words between Disney and DeSantis began in March 2022, after Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against the controversial bill that restricts certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. Opponents have labeled the controversial law “Don’t Say Gay.” Chapek called the bill a “challenge to basic human rights.”

Shortly after, DeSantis asked Florida’s legislature to terminate the longstanding special privileges granted to Disney in Central Florida, appointing a new board of hand-picked supervisors to oversee the district.

The board has threatened to hike taxes, raise utility rates and develop the land around the entertainment giant’s Central Florida theme parks. Disney sued DeSantis and his allies last year, claiming the company’s free speech was violated.

Per the terms of the settlement, Disney will drop its public records request lawsuit it filed last year against the special tax district that alleged the oversight board was withholding files in violation of Florida law. Disney was seeking to build a case against the current tax district to fight its claims that agreements with the prior one governing the same area, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, were null and void.

A trial was set to begin in June. But now, Disney holds that prior agreements are null and void and intends to negotiate a new deal that likely would be beneficial to Disney’s development plans in the area.

Additionally, both parities agreed to drop the various state-wide lawsuits they’ve filed against one another. Instead, both agreed to resolve their differences outside of the courtroom in way that would not require either to admit any fault or liability, according to text of the settlement.

“We are pleased to put an end to all litigation pending in state court in Florida between Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World, said in a statement.

The head of the oversight district for Central Florida also applauded the settlement.

“With this agreement, we’re eager to work with Disney and other businesses within Central Florida to make our destination known for world-class attractions and accountable governance,” Charbel Barakat, vice chairman of Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, said in a statement to CNN.

DeSantis’s office did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for a comment on the settlement. He is scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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