The Ongoing Feud Between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company Escalates

The ongoing feud between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company has escalated, with DeSantis threatening to impose taxes on Disney’s hotels and roads leading to the theme park.[0] The dispute began last year when Disney opposed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which limits classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.[1] In response, DeSantis signed legislation dissolving Disney’s self-governing status, which had allowed the company to manage its park as an almost independent municipality for the last 50 years. Earlier this year, DeSantis directed the state to take control of the special district where Disney World is located.[2] Consequently, a new board was appointed by the Republicans to supervise both the district and Disney, indicating that they might also have a say in the type of entertainment the corporation produces.[2] However, thanks to some inspired lawyering from Disney’s camp, DeSantis’ hand-appointed board of cronies will be more or less powerless to effect any change for, um, decades.[2]

Disney CEO Bob Iger fired back at DeSantis, calling his actions “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”[3] Iger argued that the company had a “right to freedom of speech just like individuals do” and announced plans to invest $17 billion in Disney World over the next 10 years, creating an estimated 13,000 new jobs within the company as well as “thousands of indirect jobs.” Disney has maintained that all agreements between the company and the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the special entity providing Disney overwhelming government-like control over the land housing its parks, were “appropriate” and “discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida Government in the Sunshine law.”[4]

DeSantis has ordered a state investigation into the outgoing board in charge of Disney’s special taxing district, his latest counterattack in the ongoing battle against the entertainment giant.[5] He has accused Disney of collusive and self-dealing arrangements that aim to nullify recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians.[6] DeSantis has also threatened to impose taxes on Disney’s hotels and roads leading to the theme park, claiming that Disney is “acting like somehow they pulled one over on the state.”[0] However, Disney has maintained that all its actions were legal and appropriate.[4] The feud between DeSantis and Disney shows no signs of slowing down, with both sides determined to come out on top.

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

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

2. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Learns Hard Lesson: Don’t Mess With Disney Lawyers” Kotaku, 30 Mar. 2023,

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

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

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

6. “DeSantis orders investigation into Disney district’s final act | West Orange Times & Observer” West Orange Times & SouthWest Orange Observer, 6 Apr. 2023,

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