The Ongoing Feud between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney: A Clash of Business and Government

The ongoing feud between Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Disney began in early 2022, when Disney publicly announced that they intended to work towards repealing the Parental Rights in Education Act, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.[0] The law has been criticized by LGBTQ+ rights groups and Democrats for limiting classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.[1] In response to Disney’s statement, DeSantis signed legislation dissolving independent special districts created prior to 1968, including Disney’s special tax district.[1] This move put Disney under the control of a state board, but the original board, still under Disney-allied appointees at the time, transferred many of its duties to Disney’s control in the hours before the state takeover.[2]

Disney CEO Bob Iger fired back, calling DeSantis’ moves “anti-business” and “anti-Florida,” and arguing that the company had a “right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”[3] DeSantis retaliated by voiding the development agreement that Disney had tried to make and threatened to look into taxes on hotels, tolls on roads, and developing property owned by the district.[4]

In February 2023, DeSantis signed a bill into law that ended Disney’s self-governing power and put the media giant under the control of a state board.[2] However, the new board found an agreement that the previous Disney-allied board had made before the state takeover that drastically limited the control the new board had over Disney and the district.[5] The new board threatened lawsuits against Disney, and DeSantis ordered an investigation into the outgoing board in charge of Disney’s special taxing district.[6]

Despite the ongoing conflict, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the company’s plans to invest $17 billion into Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.[7] Iger argued that, although the company may have mishandled its public position on pending Florida legislation, it still had the right to freedom of speech.[8] DeSantis’ office replied that “while a company has First Amendment rights, it does not have the right to run its own government and operate outside the bounds of Florida law.”[9]

The conflict between DeSantis and Disney highlights the tensions that can arise between businesses and government officials. While companies have the right to freedom of speech, they must also follow the laws of the government in which they operate.[10] In this case, Disney’s public opposition to a Florida law led to a series of retaliatory actions from DeSantis that ultimately put the company under state control. It remains to be seen how this conflict will be resolved, but both sides appear to be digging in for a prolonged battle.

0. “DeSantis on Disney’s out-maneuver in Florida: ‘Story is not over yet'” Business Insider, 7 Apr. 2023,

1. “As Disney Outmaneuvers DeSantis, Florida Gov. Calls for Investigation Over Special District” Hollywood Reporter, 3 Apr. 2023,

2. “Disney thwarts DeSantis’ oversight board takeover using bizarre legal tie to King Charles III of England” Fox News, 1 Apr. 2023,

3. “‘COME HELL OR HIGH WATER’: Gov. DeSantis vows Florida will ‘win’ in latest spat with Disney” Fox Business, 7 Apr. 2023,

4. “DeSantis and Legislature ready to again take aim at Disney” ABC Action News Tampa Bay, 7 Apr. 2023,

5. “Mickey Mouse outsmarts DeSantis; group demands tougher gun laws” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3 Apr. 2023,

6. “DeSantis promises ‘very, very strong action’ against Disney over Reedy Creek agreement” WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando, 7 Apr. 2023,

7. “Disney CEO Bob Iger rips Ron DeSantis over ‘anti-Florida’ retaliation” CNBC, 3 Apr. 2023,

8. “DeSantis Teases New Toll Roads & Hotel Taxes for Disney World Visitors” Disney Tourist Blog, 7 Apr. 2023,

9. “Bob Iger calls Florida actions against Disney World ‘anti-business'” CNN, 3 Apr. 2023,

10. “Florida’s Ron DeSantis threatens Disney with tolls and taxes” BBC, 7 Apr. 2023,

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