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

The ongoing feud between Walt Disney Co. and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has escalated, with Disney CEO Bob Iger calling DeSantis’ policies “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”[0] Earlier this year, at DeSantis’ direction, the Florida legislature passed a bill stripping leadership of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which gave Disney government-like control over the land housing its parks.[1] But weeks before new DeSantis-appointed members were set to take control of the district’s board, leadership approved a declaration granting Disney “prior review and comment” over proposed property changes.[2] DeSantis then 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.[3]

Iger slammed DeSantis’ actions as retaliation for Disney’s exercise of its First Amendment rights.[4] He pointed out that the company plans to spend more than $17 billion in investments at Walt Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.[0] Disney had operated for more than 50 years with broad power to control land use in and around its theme park through its self-governing Reedy Creek Improvement District.[5]

DeSantis initially tried to revoke Disney’s special tax status altogether last year, following the corporation’s opposition to the Florida education bill dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”[2] In the end, he had no other choice but to abandon the idea as it was not feasible.[6] But this year he engineered what was billed as a takeover of the board that oversees Disney’s development, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District.[6] There are presently five board members who have been nominated by the governor.[6]

“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,” DeSantis’ office said in response to Iger’s comments.[4] “The Florida Legislature and Gov. DeSantis worked to put Disney on an even playing field, and Disney got caught attempting to undermine Florida’s duly-enacted legislation in the 11th hour.[4]

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

1. “4 big questions about Disney and Ron DeSantis answered” Tampa Bay Times, 4 Apr. 2023,

2. “Disney is in a land war with the state of Florida” The Verge, 4 Apr. 2023,

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

4. “Defiant Disney CEO has a lot to say, accusing DeSantis of punishing free speech” Miami Herald, 4 Apr. 2023,

5. “Gov. Ron DeSantis orders investigation into Reedy Creek Improvement District agreement with Disney” WESH 2 Orlando, 3 Apr. 2023,

6. “How DeSantis’ dispute with the Disney board could affect 2024 race” The Washington Post, 30 Mar. 2023,

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