BREAKING: Disney Countersues CFTOD Board for Breach of Contract, Florida Constitution Violations

Shannen Ace

Front of Cinderella Castle and lantern at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

BREAKING: Disney Countersues CFTOD Board for Breach of Contract, Florida Constitution Violations

In addition to their federal lawsuit against Governor DeSantis and his appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board, Walt Disney World is now countersuing the Board at the state level.

Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom

After Disney filed their original federal lawsuit, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) Board filed a counter state lawsuit.

Walt Disney World has now responded to CFTOD’s lawsuit in a 55-page filing, denying the District Board’s claims and countersuing them for Breach of Contract, violations of the Florida Constitution, and more. Disney asks the judge to declare Senate Bill 1604: Land Use and Development Regulations unconstitutional, or order that the District cannot enforce the bill.

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District logo

One of Disney’s major arguments is that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District is more-or-less the same as the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis created his Board of Supervisors, he did not technically dissolve RCID as he originally intended, but just renamed the District.

Walt Disney World has put forth an estoppel against the CFTOD regarding the Development Agreement and Restrictive Covenants that the Board tried to declare null and void, arguing that because the District is the same and the 2023 District Charter created by the Florida Legislature stated previously existing RCID contracts were still valid, the CFTOD cannot void them.

Disney originally filed their federal lawsuit immediately after the CFTOD Board declared the agreements void.

An estoppel is a legal principle that prevents someone from asserting something contrary to a previous action they took or a statement they made.

In July, Judge Margaret H. Schreiber ruled against Disney’s motion to dismiss CFTOD’s lawsuit. The District, meanwhile, is hoping to bypass the lawsuit with early judgment.

The Disney-DeSantis Feud

This is the latest installment in the overall, long-running feud between Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who hand-picked members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board when the Reedy Creek Improvement District was dissolved.

The Florida Governor and Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.

Bob Chapek was Chief Executive Officer at the time and initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from Cast Members, the LGBTQ+ community, and controversy over Disney’s practice of making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.

florida state capitol
Image Source: Orlando Weekly

In an apparent act of retribution over Chapek’s expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and eventual transfer of power directly under his control. DeSantis argues he is attacking an incredibly vague perception of something he calls “woke politics,” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through these actions and the newly-formed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board:

Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.

Every member of this governing body has been a handpicked ally of the Governor thus far, including a Christian nationalist and lawyer who donated $50,000 to the DeSantis gubernatorial campaign, among others. In May, an administrator for the district (Glen Gilzean) was also appointed, with a significantly increased $400,000 salary directly related to ongoing DeSantis-led legal fights regarding Disney and several other issues around the state. The legal expenditures made by the Governor are being funded by Florida taxpayers.

Ron DeSantis Nov 22

DeSantis has previously argued that he is attacking a vague perception of something he calls “woke politics,” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through these actions and the newly-formed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board:

Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.

DeSantis said in a recent CNBC interview that he has “moved on” from his battles with The Walt Disney Company, and wants the whole issue to be dropped.

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Author

  • Shannen Michaelsen

    Shannen has been a Disney Parks fan and lover of dogs since childhood, despite Pluto's attempt to eat Shannen's Minnie Mouse doll the first time they met. They've made up now. You can email Shannen at shannen@wdwnt.com.