Disney, Florida’s DeSantis end spat with deal on 15-year expansion plan

By Thomson Reuters Jun 12, 2024 | 10:01 PM

(Reuters) – Disney and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have put an end to their feud with a deal that allows the entertainment giant to develop the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando for the next 15 years.

DeSantis and Disney, one of Florida’s biggest employers, had been embroiled in a dispute since 2022, when former Disney CEO Bob Chapek criticized a state legislative effort to limit classroom discussion of sexuality and gender issues for younger students. Critics described it as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Under the agreement with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, Disney said it would spend at least $8 billion at the resort over a decade with a total of $17 billion invested over 10 to 20 years.

It will also expand an affordable housing initiative and ensure at least 50% of its total spending in the expansion goes to Florida businesses, according to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The agreement also gives Disney the ability to build a fifth theme park, expand retail and office space and add about 14,000 hotel rooms for a resort total of nearly 54,000.

Disney President Jeff Vahle said in a statement the new agreement “paves the way for us to invest billions of dollars in Walt Disney World Resort”.

The agreement comes after Disney and appointees of Ron DeSantis reached a settlement in March to end a high-profile lawsuit in state court over control of the special district that includes the Walt Disney World theme parks.

(Reporting by Rishabh Jaiswal in Bengaluru and Dawn Chmielewski in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Abinaya V; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)