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DeSantis’ Disney District to Meet in Secret About Multiple Lawsuits

DeSantis Disney Board Secret Meeting
Credit: Disney/Flickr

In February 2023, the battle between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came to a head. After more than a year of fighting, the governor and the Republican-led Florida legislature officially dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The special district of Reedy Creek had been in place since 1967 and essentially allowed the Walt Disney World Resort to function as its own government.

But Disney didn’t take the defeat lying down. The company fought back, suing the governor for violating its First Amendment right to free speech. That suit was recently dismissed by Federal Judge Allen Winsor, but Disney is appealing the ruling.

Ron DeSantis

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Related: DeSantis’ Disney District Ends First Responder Protection in Multiple Cities

Disney also filed a lawsuit against the new board running the district formerly known as Reedy Creek. After dissolving Reedy Creek, Governor DeSantis handpicked a new board of loyalists to run the area and renamed it the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Disney is suing the CFTOD for violation of its First Amendment rights, as well as Breach of Contract, and violation of Florida’s Public Records Act.

reedy creek fire department building at disney world

Credit: Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District

Both sides have refused to back down, with the CFTOD suing Disney for contracts issued when the Reedy Creek Board was still in charge. But it looks like the end may finally be in sight.

According to a public notice, the CFTOD Board will meet behind closed doors — along with its legal counsel — to discuss the multiple lawsuits filed by and against the Mouse House. The supervisors will meet on Wednesday, February 28, and will discuss “strategy and settlement negotiations related to litigation expenditures.”

astro orbiters

Credit: Ben Mcleod, Unsplash

Disney and the CFTOD are expected to be fighting these court battles for years, with the district setting aside $5 million just for litigation this year alone. That is more than double what the board spent on legal fees in 2023. And it is no secret that Disney is footing a lot of the legal bills, considering the CFTOD controls the purse strings for the area.

The February 28 meeting will be attended by the following board members: Chairman Martin Garcia, Vice-Chairman Charbel Barakat, Brian Aungst, Jr., Ron Peri, and Bridget Ziegler. Administrator Glen Gilzean will also be in attendance.

Glen Gilzean Ron DeSantis

Credit: Central Florida Urban League

Related: DEI is DOA: Board Overturns Disney’s Diversity Hiring Initiative

Gilzean has been the center of controversy since he took over. When he took on the administrator role, Gilzean was also the head of Florida’s Committee on Ethics, which (ironically) was a major ethics violation. Gilzean was informed by legal counsel that he would have to resign from one of his positions. He ended up resigning from the Ethics Committee.

Who do you side with in the battle between Disney and the CFTOD? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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