The Ongoing Feud Between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney Escalates

The ongoing feud between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney has recently escalated, with the governor ordering a state investigation into the outgoing board in charge of Disney’s special taxing district. This is the latest move in a public battle between the Republican governor and the state’s biggest and most popular corporation. The conflict began last year when the Florida legislature passed an education bill that prohibited teachers of younger students from using instruction time to discuss sexual orientation and sexual identity.[0] The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation had a significant impact on Disney employees, who felt the brunt of it given the company’s history of championing diversity and inclusion.[0] Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek criticized the act, which was backed by the governor, and Disney announced it would pause its political contributions in the state.

DeSantis then handpicked a new board to oversee Disney World’s infrastructure, a power granted thanks to a new law meant to punish the Walt Disney Company for speaking out against Florida’s parental rights in education legislation.[1] The Reedy Creek Improvement District’s name was altered to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District by the law.[1] The new board found an agreement made by Disney and the former board that the board claims stripped them of most powers, leading to threats of a lawsuit against Disney and an investigation ordered by DeSantis.[2]

Disney CEO Bob Iger has fired back at DeSantis, criticizing him for punishing a company for exercising its constitutional right to freedom of speech.[3] Iger reminded Disney shareholders that Disney World is Florida’s biggest employer, biggest tourist attraction, and plans to invest $17 billion in the next 10 years in Florida.[1] According to Iger, penalizing Disney would be considered as both “anti-business” and “anti-Florida,”.[4] Although acknowledging that the company mishandled its public stance on pending Florida legislation last year, he argued that Disney is entitled to exercise its freedom of speech.[3]

In his response, Iger highlighted Disney’s commitment to Florida, stating that the company has invested in Florida for the last 50 years and given back in the form of jobs, community service, taxes, and tourism.[5] He also said that Disney’s investment of $17 billion in Disney World over the next 10 years would create 13,000 new jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs, attracting more people to the state and generating more taxes.[2]

DeSantis, on the other hand, has threatened to void the development agreement that Disney tried to do and has stated that they will look at things like taxes on the hotels, tolls on the roads, and developing some of the property that the district owns.[6] He has also appointed a new board called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which is meant to supervise services and development for the land surrounding Disney World.[7]

The conflict between DeSantis and Disney highlights the tension between businesses and politicians who may not always see eye-to-eye. As Bob Iger pointed out, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do, and punishing a company for exercising that right can be detrimental to the state’s economy and reputation.[8] It remains to be seen how the investigation ordered by DeSantis will play out and how the conflict between Disney and the governor will be resolved.

0. “Why Building A Fifth Theme Park In Florida Could Give Disney A Happy Ending In Its Battle With Ron DeSantis” Forbes, 10 Apr. 2023,

1. “State-controlled Disney World government board seeks to regain more control” Florida Politics, 11 Apr. 2023,

2. “”That just seems really wrong to me” – Bob Iger Comments on DeSantis’ Actions Against Disney’s Reedy Creek” AllEars.Net, 3 Apr. 2023,

3. “DeSantis Threatens New Toll Roads & Hotel Taxes for Disney World Visitors” Disney Tourist Blog, 9 Apr. 2023,

4. “Opinion: Clarence Page: How Mickey Mouse outwitted Florida’s governor” Boulder Daily Camera, 9 Apr. 2023,

5. “Disney CEO Bob Iger Taking No Prisoners in Fights With DeSantis, More” Business Insider, 7 Apr. 2023,

6. “DeSantis Threatens Hotel Tax, New Development Near Disney World In Feud Escalation” Bisnow, 7 Apr. 2023,

7. “Prince Harry and Meghan’s daughter Lilibet has become an ‘honorary Disney princess'” Express, 5 Apr. 2023,

8. “DeSantis wants state investigation into Disney power play” POLITICO, 3 Apr. 2023,

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