The Feud Between Florida Governor DeSantis and Disney: What You Need to Know

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has been engaged in a feud with Disney over issues including the company’s opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law and its stance on LGBTQ+ issues.[0] DeSantis has threatened to revoke Disney’s special district and self-governing status, which would have allowed him to exert more control over Disney World’s government body.[1] Although he was unable to dissolve the district completely, he did acquire unprecedented control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which oversees much of Disney’s operations.[2] DeSantis also fired the existing controlling board, replacing them with a five-member body that he picked himself, including one who helped craft the “don’t say gay” bill.[2]

The district has since been renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, and DeSantis has threatened to give the Florida government additional oversight over Disney’s rides.[3] He has also suggested building a new state prison on land next to Disney’s theme parks.[4] In February, the day before the Florida House voted to establish the new board, Reedy Creek and Disney held a public meeting to discuss and approve a developmental agreement that moved control over a lot of what Reedy Creek used to handle under Disney for the next 30 years.[5] According to board members recently appointed by DeSantis, they have limited authority over Disney as stipulated in the agreement.[5]

The Reedy Creek Improvement District has been overseeing the land containing Walt Disney World since the 1960s, functioning like a municipal government and handling infrastructure like road maintenance, waste collection, and building permits.[6] The special district has always been formally separate from Disney, but the company has previously been able to exert significant control over it as its major landowner, able to elect the board members that control the special district and handpick other residents in the special district who have voting powers.[0]

DeSantis’ feud with Disney and his punishments against the resort have drawn criticism from former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and even former President Donald Trump, who wrote in a Truth Social post that DeSantis is being “absolutely destroyed by Disney.” If Trump’s attacks on DeSantis and his Disney imbroglio end up sticking, there’s no telling how they could affect the 2024 election season.

0. “Here’s How DeSantis And His Board Could Change Disney World” Forbes, 18 Apr. 2023,

1. “DeSantis-appointed Disney board outlines aggressive changes” NBC News, 19 Apr. 2023,

2. “What’s Going On With the DeSantis vs. Disney Debacle?” Vogue, 19 Apr. 2023,

3. “DeSantis-picked board votes to give itself ‘superior authority’ over Disney” WESH 2 Orlando, 19 Apr. 2023,

4. “Triad senator files bill to attract Disney to North Carolina” WXII12 Winston-Salem, 19 Apr. 2023,

5. “DeSantis vs. Disney: Florida governor vows more control of land” Tallahassee Democrat, 17 Apr. 2023,

6. “DeSantis allies on Disney oversight board threaten company with taxes, rate hikes and affordable housing” CNN, 19 Apr. 2023,

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