The Ongoing Feud Between Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney Raises Concerns About His Leadership

The ongoing battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and entertainment giant Disney has been making headlines for almost a year now.[0] The feud began when Disney opposed the Parental Rights in Education bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prohibits teachers from leading classroom discussions on gender identity and sexual identity in kindergarten through third grade.[1]

DeSantis, angered by Disney’s opposition, sought to revoke the company’s special district and self-governing status, which allowed Disney to act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.[2] Although the district could not be dissolved completely, DeSantis acquired unprecedented control over Disney World’s dedicated government body, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and threatened new legislation that would give the Florida government additional oversight over Disney’s rides.[3] The governor also fired Reedy Creek’s 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]

However, before DeSantis could strip the district where Disney is based of its self-governing status and replace the board that oversaw the area, a Disney-allied panel signed a long-lasting development agreement that drastically limits the governor’s control.[4] According to DeSantis, the state lawmakers are preparing a bill to void the said agreement.[4]

The feud has caught the attention of former President Donald Trump, who continues to top DeSantis in most polls on the favorite for next year’s Republican presidential nomination. Trump has been lashing out at DeSantis, saying that he is being “absolutely destroyed by Disney.”[2] Former New Jersey Gov.[5] Chris Christie has also criticized DeSantis, saying that he does not believe he is a conservative based on his actions towards Disney.[6]

Despite his efforts, DeSantis has been struggling to win the public relations battle and is attempting to redeem himself.[5] New legislation was announced by him earlier this week, mandating more inspections to be conducted on the rides at Disney theme park and its monorail that connects the hotels and theme parks.[5] He also suggested the new state board could convert land in and around the Orlando theme parks into a state park, a competing amusement park, or a state prison, and that the board should investigate raising taxes on Disney.[7]

However, DeSantis’s efforts to punish Disney for being “woke” have become a political headache, with his potential 2024 Republican presidential primary opponents using it to go on the attack. DeSantis may be too committed to back down at this stage.[5]

The new board DeSantis appointed to oversee the company’s Orlando theme parks has discovered a new wrinkle in its plans.[5] The board’s chairman said Wednesday that another “11th hour agreement” was signed before the board took over that allows Disney to set its own utility rates for its resorts through 2032.[8] DeSantis will have departed long before 2026, as he is term-limited and ineligible for reelection.[5]

Disney ran its own government for over 50 years, controlling the 40 square miles in and around its parks in Central Florida.[9] It did so by allowing a few loyal employees to live on the property, making them the only people who could vote for and serve on the Reedy Creek board of supervisors, where they carried out the company’s wishes.[9]

The ongoing battle between DeSantis and Disney raises concerns about the governor’s ability to negotiate with foreign leaders and resolve issues on a global scale. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie said that DeSantis’s actions towards Disney do not make him an imposing figure to sit across from leaders such as China’s President Xi Jinping or Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

In conclusion, the feud between DeSantis and Disney has been ongoing for almost a year now, with both sides refusing to back down. DeSantis’s efforts to punish Disney for being “woke” have become a political headache, with his potential 2024 Republican presidential primary opponents using it to go on the attack. The ongoing battle raises concerns about DeSantis’s ability to negotiate with foreign leaders and resolve issues on a global scale.

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

1. “DeSantis-picked board passes resolution to have ‘superior authority’ over Disney” ABC Action News Tampa Bay, 19 Apr. 2023,

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

3. “DeSantis threatens retaliation over Disney’s attempt to thwart state takeover” CNN, 17 Apr. 2023,

4. “Disney tells its lobbyists to step up fight against DeSantis and his allies in Florida” CNBC, 20 Apr. 2023,

5. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis loses again to Disney”, 20 Apr. 2023,

6. “Disney vs. DeSantis: Florida lawmakers join fight for control” Tallahassee Democrat, 19 Apr. 2023,

7. “DeSantis political rivals seize on Disney feud” Tampa Bay Times, 20 Apr. 2023,

8. “Disney’s battle with Ron DeSantis escalates as company prepares for layoffs” Yahoo Finance, 20 Apr. 2023,

9. “In DeSantis Vs. Disney World, Governor Misstates Facts on Taxes” NBC 6 South Florida, 20 Apr. 2023,

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