DeSantis tourism board approves $17 billion development deal with Disney that could pave the way for a 5th theme park

    Minnie Mouse at Walt Disney World.

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    The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District approved a $17 billion development deal with Disney.The development plan could allow Disney World to build a fifth major theme park and two minor parks.Disney must award at least 50% of all construction work to Florida businesses.

    Central Florida’s tourism district unanimously approved a $17 billion development deal with Disney that could mean a new era for the company’s profitable theme parks.

    Members of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s board of supervisors pushed through the landmark deal on Wednesday evening during a meeting at its Lake Buena Vista headquarters.

    The deal comes amid a détente between Disney and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose administration took control of the local tourism district from the entertainment conglomerate last February. Disney had previously self-managed any development in the area with little government oversight.

    The resulting legal battle between Disney and the DeSantis administration began in 2022 but ended this March when both parties agreed to a settlement.

    Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

    Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

    “This is the day we have all been looking forward to,” Board Member Brian Aungst said prior to the vote. “Walt Disney World is inextricably intertwined in the fabric of Central Florida.”

    After the vote, Board Member Charbel Barakat thanked DeSantis for his leadership, inspiration, and “tireless efforts” to reach a deal with Disney.

    The development deal, a version of which Business Insider reviewed, will allow Disney to spend billions of dollars on its Walt Disney World properties over the next 10 to 20 years.

    It will also permit Disney to build a fifth major theme park and two minor theme parks — something Disney fans have fantasized about for years. Reddit boards and Disney-themed discussion forums have long speculated about the so-called “fifth gate,” or a potential fifth theme park that would join the four existing locations.

    Disney hasn’t discussed how or when it could pursue the massive project, but fans have clamored for a villain-centric theme park in the past. Another popular idea was a Star Wars-based attraction, which came to life in 2019 when Disney unveiled Galaxy’s Edge.

    The development deal also authorizes Disney to add more rooms to its Central Florida hotel and expand its retail and restaurant space.

    In return, Disney must award at least 50% of its related construction work to Florida-based businesses and fund at least $10 million toward “attainable housing projects.” The company must also donate at least 100 acres of its land to the tourism district.

    In a hearing last week, local businesses came out in support of the deal, which they view as an opportunity to grow the local economy and increase sales.

    “The one thing we’re sure of is that investment and reinvestment guarantee growth and excellence,” George Miliotes, the owner and operator of Wine Bar George in Disney Springs, told board members. “So, when we see the billion-dollar number in front of the investment that’s on the table, we get very excited.”

    He added: “We know that we’re securing the future if we make this investment.”

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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