Is the war over? Disney and Ron DeSantis’ allies reach agreement to end legal battle | US News

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The war between Mickey Mouse and Ron DeSantis appears to be over.

Allies of the outspoken Florida governor and Disney have reached a settlement in their court battle over how Walt Disney World in the Orlando area is developed in the future.

The agreement brings to an end almost two years of litigation sparked after Mr DeSantis’ takeover of a special tourism district from Disney supporters following the company’s opposition to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.

FILE - Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a campaign event, Jan. 17, 2024, in Hampton, N.H. DeSantis has suspended his Republican presidential campaign after a disappointing showing in Iowa's leadoff caucuses. He ended his White House bid Sunday, Jan. 21, after failing to meet lofty expectations that he would seriously challenge former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Pic: AP

The controversial 2022 law bans classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades and was championed by the Republican governor.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District provides municipal services such as firefighting, planning and mosquito control, among other things, and was controlled by Disney supporters for most of its five decades.

A board appointed by Mr DeSantis to oversee development around Disney’s theme parks sued the company to void “backroom deals” favourable to the entertainment conglomerate.

Mr DeSantis used Disney as a punching bag in speeches on the campaign trail as he vied for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year, until he ultimately suspended his bid.

Read more:
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“This agreement opens a new chapter of constructive engagement with the new leadership of the district,” Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle said.

The settlement lifts a significant barrier to the continued development of Walt Disney World.

The four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando – Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, EPCOT and Magic Kingdom – attracted roughly 47 million visitors in 2022, according to industry statistics.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr DeSantis said the state’s actions had been “vindicated”.

“A year ago people were trying to act like all these legal manoeuvres were all going to succeed, and the reality is here we are a year later, not one of them has succeeded,” he told reporters, according to the New York Times.

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