People gather at the Magic Kingdom theme park before the "Festival of Fantasy" parade at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, U.S. July 30, 2022.
New York CNN  — 

A yearslong fight between Disney and Florida is set to end after the two parties agreed to a settlement.

In a meeting Wednesday morning, members of the board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, a body that governs the special tax district Disney is located in, approved a settlement to end a legal dispute.

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis set up the Central Florida Tourism District to oversee the area in which Disney operates nearly two years ago, amid a growing conflict between the Florida governor and the entertainment giant.

The war of words between Disney and DeSantis began in March 2022, after Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against the controversial bill that restricts certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. Opponents have labeled the controversial law “Don’t Say Gay.” Chapek called the bill a “challenge to basic human rights.”

Shortly after, DeSantis asked Florida’s legislature to terminate the longstanding special privileges granted to Disney in Central Florida, appointing a new board of hand-picked supervisors to oversee the district.

The board has threatened to hike taxes, raise utility rates and develop the land around the entertainment giant’s Central Florida theme parks. Disney sued DeSantis and his allies last year, claiming the company’s free speech was violated.

“Everything we’ve done has been in the best interests of the state of Florida,” DeSantis said Wednesday at a press conference in Orlando. “I’m glad that they were able to do that settlement,” he said.

What the settlement entails

Per the terms of the settlement, Disney will drop its public records request lawsuit it filed last year against the special tax district that alleged the oversight board was withholding files in violation of Florida law. Disney was seeking to build a case against the current tax district to fight its claims that agreements with the prior one governing the same area, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, were null and void.

A trial was set to begin in June. But now, Disney holds that prior agreements are null and void and intends to negotiate a new deal that likely would be beneficial to Disney’s development plans in the area.

Separately, in January a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Disney filed accusing DeSantis of weaponizing his political power to punish the company for exercising its right to free speech. Disney quickly filed an appeal, but it will now put that on hold “pending negotiations” on a new development deal, among other matters, with the district.

Additionally, both parties agreed to drop the various state-wide lawsuits they’ve filed against one another. Instead, both agreed to resolve their differences outside of the courtroom in way that would not require either to admit any fault or liability, according to text of the settlement.

“A year ago people were trying to act like all these legal maneuverings were all going to succeed against the state of Florida and the reality is here we are a year later and not one of them has succeeded,” DeSantis said Wednesday. DeSantis’s office did not directly respond to CNN’s request for a comment on the settlement.

However, the governor, who recently ended his presidential bid, said Wednesday he views the settlement as a mutual victory for Florida and Disney. DeSantis suggested the settlement could give Disney more of an edge to compete with neighboring Universal Orlando’s theme park, which recently announced an expansion slated to be complete next year.

“We are pleased to put an end to all litigation pending in state court in Florida between Disney and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District,” Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World, said in a statement.

The head of the oversight district for Central Florida also applauded the settlement.

“With this agreement, we’re eager to work with Disney and other businesses within Central Florida to make our destination known for world-class attractions and accountable governance,” Charbel Barakat, vice chairman of Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, said in a statement to CNN.

Moving forward

The spat became a source of distraction for Disney and a criticism for DeSantis, even from Republicans. Yet DeSantis and current Disney CEO Bob Iger did not shy away from trading barbs during their legal battle.

Last year, Iger called DeSantis’ actions toward Disney “anti-business” and “anti-Florida,” and in May, Iger said the Florida governor’s attacks on Disney could threaten the company’s future investment in the state.

On a call with investors, Iger asked: “Does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes or not?”

DeSantis stepped up his own attacks on Disney, as well. At one point DeSantis accused Disney of adding a lot of “sexuality into the programming for young kids,” something the company denies.

Disney has effectively closed the chapter on its protracted fight against DeSantis just one week before the company faces another existential battle.

Billionaire activist Nelson Peltz, whose Trian Partners has built up a stake in Disney, has been critical of the company’s management decisions and Iger’s leadership, saying Disney has “lost its way.” That battle will come to a head on April 3 at Disney’s shareholder meeting, where Peltz is seeking to win two board seats at the company.

This story has been updated with additional context and developments.