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With lawsuits in rearview mirror, Disney World government gets back to being boring

ORLANDO, Fla. — For the first time in more than a year, the monthly board meeting of Walt Disney World’s governing district on Wednesday was back to being what many municipal government forums often are — boring.

There were no rants against Disney by the board’s chairman nor demands by local opponents for board members appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to resign immediately. Instead, board members approved contracts for the installation of pipelines for chilled water, sediment removal, the replacement of a wastewater lift pump and the removal of compost waste.

What made this meeting different from most during the past year or so was that it came a month after Disney and DeSantis’ board appointees reached a deal to end their state court lawsuits over DeSantis’ takeover of the district. The district provides municipal services such as firefighting, planning and mosquito control, among other things, for the theme park resort.

“We’re doing the people’s business,” said Charbel Barakat, the board’s vice chair.

Not even a group of Disney supporters who regularly speak out against DeSantis’ board appointees bothered to show up during the public comment period on Wednesday.

Until last year’s takeover of the governing district, it had been controlled for the entirety of its five decades by Disney supporters.

The takeover by DeSantis and the Republican-led Legislature was sparked by Disney’s opposition to Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law, which bans classroom lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades. DeSantis championed the 2022 law and repeatedly took shots at Disney in speeches until he suspended his presidential campaign.

Lawsuits in federal and state courts followed. The state lawsuits have been dismissed, and the federal lawsuit is on hold pending further negotiations over agreements between Disney and the DeSantis appointees.

During Wednesday’s board meeting, the only reference to the lawsuits was a housekeeping matter that resulted from the deal. Board members approved an amendment to a labor services agreement, shortening it to 2028 instead of 2032.

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Follow Mike Schneider on X, formerly known as Twitter: @MikeSchneiderAP.

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