Florida lawmakers back scrapping controversial Disney agreements

Florida lawmakers on Thursday approved a proposal aimed at invalidating controversial development agreements involving Walt Disney World, sending the issue to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has feuded with Disney for the past year.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 27-13 on Thursday to give final approval to a bill (SB 1604), which seeks to nullify agreements reached by Disney and the former Reedy Creek Improvement District board. It would allow DeSantis appointees to the renamed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board to reconsider the agreements. 

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a law on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, that gives the state control of Disney Worldâs Reedy Creek Improvement District, stripping the resort of its self-governing powers. (Ricardo Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Gett

The former Reedy Creek board reached the agreements shortly before it was replaced by the new board. Under the bill, special districts would be prohibited from complying with development agreements executed three months or less before new laws take effect that change how district board members are selected. The bill also would give new boards four months to review any development agreements and decide if they should be re-adopted. 


DeSantis has taken aim at Disney for the past year after the entertainment giant opposed a 2022 law that restricts instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in schools. 

The former Reedy Creek district was created in the 1960s and largely gave Disney self-governance power. The feuding has led recently to lawsuits filed by Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, joined Democrats in voting against the bill Thursday, saying the Legislature "should be finding ways to support our job creators."