DeSantis Tries to Kill Disney Suit

walt disney world company lawsuit dates lose president desantis
Credit: Disney, Gage Skidmore/ Flickr

Here we are again. Another update on the fight between the Walt Disney Company and the Government of Florida. Or, as I may start referring to it…the Ronny and Bobby Battle. Let’s recap.

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storm castle

Credit: Disney and Canva

The Bill That Started It All

In March of last year (2022), the Florida legislature passed a bill to limit the instruction of gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-3. The bill was criticized by many claiming that it targeted members of the LGBTQ+ community and could cause harm to students who identify as such, as well as teachers.

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Since the Walt Disney Company was one of the biggest employers in Florida, there was a lot of pressure put on it to take a stand and fight the bill. Disney CEO Bob Chapek, at the time, decided to stay out of any political battles and keep the company as neutral as he could. However, this stance angered many people both in and around the company. More pressure was put on Bob Chapek to speak out on behalf of the company against the Parental Rights in Education Bill (which others called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill).

Bob Chapek

Credit: Disney

Finally, Bob Chapek DID speak out against the bill, but it had already been passed. So Bob Chapek then announced Disney would halt all political donations in Florida.

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The Battle for Reedy Creek Improvement District

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pushed back on the Walt Disney Company, claiming that since it was based in California, it had no business getting involved in Florida politics. As such, he threatened to terminate the long-standing privileges that Walt Disney World Resort enjoyed in the state. Although many thought Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Republicans would never be bold enough to go after Disney in such a way (i.e. eliminating the Reedy Creek Improvement District), that’s just what they did.

Reedy Creek

Credit: Reedy Creek

In 2023, Florida lawmakers worked to create the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which would oversee Walt Disney World Resort’s theme parks and municipal services in the area.

RELATED: Disney World President Gives Up the Reedy Creek Battle

It then came out that the Reedy Creek Improvement District had tried to set up rules and motions to limit the power of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Next came some harsh language by Governor DeSantis (and some more by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who was back running the company). Then came the lawsuits. One by the Walt Disney Company suing Governor Ron DeSantis. And one by the Ron DeSantis Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board against the Walt Disney Company.

reedy creek fire department building at disney world

Credit: Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District

A Year Later

And now here we are. Governor Ron DeSantis is running for president and has been criticized by Republican and Democrat politicians for his war with Disney.

florida governor ron desantis disney lawsuit lose presidential

Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr

Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Company’s stock hasn’t recovered much from its low last year, Disney Plus numbers are falling, the company is not making much money at the box office, and its theme Park attendance has been reported as down. So it doesn’t seem like either party is winning in this fight. However, both continue digging their heels in deeper.

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This Week

Reported on July 26, the legal team representing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis requested a motion to toss out the lawsuit filed by the Walt Disney Company.

Disney, however, had no desire to do such a thing. They released the following statement, “The Governor seeks to evade responsibility for his actions on a narrower ground, asserting that a governor cannot be held officially liable for implementing, administering, and enforcing state laws that punish residents for political statements violating a state-prescribed speech code.”

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The Walt Disney Company then asked for a court date set on July 15, 2024, the same day as the Republican National Convention. Meanwhile, Governor DeSantis and his team have been trying to push the court date until after the 2024 Presidential election.

Bob Iger

Credit: Disney

However this Disney battle ends…one thing’s for sure: we have at least another full year of it.

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About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)