Aug 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Disney-DeSantis feud takes another turn with new damages claim

DeSantis holds a press conference to discuss his dispute with Disney in April, 2023. Photo: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty

The Walt Disney Company filed a counterclaim Thursday against the board appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to take control of Walt Disney World's special tax district, per court filings.

The big picture: The move comes amid a yearslong feud between Disney and DeSantis, which ignited after the company publicly opposed the controversial dubbed "Dont Say Gay" law, championed by the governor.

  • DeSantis has cited his fight with Disney while campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. However, he suggested in a CNBC interview on Monday that he wants the ongoing legal battle to end, saying he had "basically moved on."
  • Disney seems to have other ideas.

Driving the news: Disney filed counterclaims this week against a lawsuit filed in May by the Desantis-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board, which was itself a countersuit.

  • The entertainment giant alleges breach of contract and the violation of the free speech clause of Florida's constitution.
  • Disney is seeking damages over the alleged breach as well as injunctive relief.
  • Representatives for Disney, DeSantis and the board did not immediately return Axios' request for comment.

Catch up quick: DeSantis revoked the company's 25,000-acre special tax district, known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District around Walt Disney World in Orlando, and created a board packed with DeSantis allies to oversee the district.

Of note: Disney in May canceled plans for a new, nearly $1 billion employee campus in Orlando.

  • The company said at the time that the cancellation was the result of "changing business conditions."

Go deeper: Disney leans into values amid Florida feud with DeSantis

Go deeper