Helena Lyng Blak
1 week ago

Disney to Invest $17 Billion Into Florida Resorts - and Forges Path to Possible New Park

Disney’s $17 billion investment heralds a new era for Florida resorts, as legal battles with Governor DeSantis conclude.
Orlando , Florida. September 21, 2020. Panoramic view of Partners statue (Walt Disney and Mickey) in Magic KIngdom (76 — Photo by VIAVAL
Orlando , Florida. September 21, 2020. Panoramic view of Partners statue (Walt Disney and Mickey) in Magic KIngdom (76 — Photo by VIAVAL

It has been two years since a political and legal tug-of-war between Republican Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company began. 

Now, months after the legal disputes have been settled, Disney is set to invest up to $17 billion into its Florida resorts, expanding with a fifth theme park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The issues between the two parties began when Florida’s House and Senate passed the Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which prohibited discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms.

Disney employees quickly expressed their dissatisfaction with the bill. Soon after, then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek stated that Disney’s upper management was opposed to the bill “from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we thought we could be more effective working behind-the-scenes, engaging directly with lawmakers — on both sides of the aisle.”

After Disney’s public condemnation of the bill, Republican lawmakers passed another bill, at DeSantis’ urging, which stripped Disney of its self-governing authority in Walt Disney World. 

The bill allowed the creation of a new board for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which the park is a part of.

Disney responded by filing a lawsuit, alleging “government retaliation.” 

In March 2024, however, the two sides reached an agreement, with Disney agreeing to operate under the board, paving the way for this new development agreement.

According to AP, DeSantis’ five appointed supervisors voted in favor of initial approval on Wednesday, June 6, 2024. A second vote for final approval is scheduled for next week.

“We are heading towards a brand new day, and I’m excited about where this is going,” said vice chair of the district’s board Charbel Barakat. “I only wish we could have gotten here sooner.”

If the development agreement is approved, it would last 15 years. According to Woody Rodriguez, director of external affairs for the Disney parks, this agreement would allow the company to make significant investments in their Florida parks.


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