The Feud Between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney Draws Conservative Criticism

The ongoing feud between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and entertainment giant Disney has drawn criticism from conservatives who argue that the governor is interfering in business matters and acting against the Republican party platform.[0] The conflict started when Disney opposed DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education law, which critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.[1] The legislation limited classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.[2] In response, DeSantis took action to acquire authority over the company’s previously bestowed self-governance abilities as a form of retaliation.[3] Disney took action to ensure that these powers would always be protected.[3]

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie argued that DeSantis is “not a conservative” due to his ongoing war with Disney.[4] While DeSantis has backed legislation taking away Disney’s self-governing status in Florida, the company has continued to find paths to circumvent the state’s control.[5] On Monday, DeSantis announced that legislation to revoke Disney’s agreements is set to be presented by Florida lawmakers.[6] He also proposed legislation that would erase any deal Disney made with the previous special district board and subject the company to state inspections of all its theme park rides.[7]

DeSantis suggested that the district owns a lot of land not currently used by Disney, and speculated that the state could use that land for other purposes, such as creating a state park, more amusement parks, or even another state prison.[8] He argued that the possibilities are endless, and so the land will be analyzed to see what would make the most sense.[8]

Disney has essentially governed what was formerly called the Reedy Creek Improvement District as a “kingdom within a state” for decades. However, DeSantis targeted the organization for responding to employee demands to denounce the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in the state. He took control of the district, renamed it the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, and appointed a personally selected board.[9] Then it was revealed that prior to the takeover, the former, Disney-aligned board of supervisors granted the company control over nearly every aspect of the district “until twenty one (21) years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England.”[9] It took DeSantis’s administration a month to realize Disney’s subterfuge despite the fact that the document had been publicly filed.[9]

On Monday, DeSantis unveiled several actions aimed at Disney, which included proposing a new law to eliminate the exemption of its theme park attractions from state scrutiny.[7] In addition, he proposed the possibility of developing the land in Florida adjacent to the Disney resort, which could include the construction of a new state prison.[10] However, critics argue that DeSantis is overstepping his bounds and interfering in the private sector. Christie argued that as a conservative, the job of government is to “stay out of the business of business.[1]

0. “Gaming the government is not going well” CNN, 18 Apr. 2023,

1. “Trump, other potential 2024 rivals slam DeSantis over Disney feud” Axios, 19 Apr. 2023,

2. “DeSantis says lawmakers will reassert control of Reedy Creek, jokes about building prison” Orlando Sentinel, 17 Apr. 2023,

3. “Chris Christie derides Ron DeSantis for being outfoxed by Disney” The Guardian US, 18 Apr. 2023,

4. “Chris Christie bashes Ron DeSantis over war on Disney: ‘I thought that’s what liberals did'” Fox News, 18 Apr. 2023,

5. “Christie, Trump hit DeSantis after prison comment in Disney dispute” USA TODAY, 18 Apr. 2023,

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

7. “DeSantis doubles down on Disney deal, subjects the Mouse to inspections” Bay News 9, 17 Apr. 2023,

8. “DeSantis says Legislature plans to void agreement that Disney made to avoid state control” Florida Phoenix, 17 Apr. 2023,

9. “Ron DeSantis Responds to Disney Attempt to Thwart Takeover” Curbed, 17 Apr. 2023,

10. “‘Disney Outsmarted DeSantis Again’ Over Development Dispute, Attorney Says” Newsweek, 18 Apr. 2023,

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