Ron DeSantis may be moving on from his feud with Disney, but Disney isn’t. The entertainment giant has no plans to let the Governor of Florida off so gently. In fact, they just doubled down on the fight.
Gov. DeSantis felt the fight had gone on long enough and called for an end to the squabble recently, saying he has “moved on” from the fight. He’s learning the hard way that The Mouse doesn’t forgive and forget quite so easily, especially when they feel wronged.
How It Started
Last year, Ron DeSantis put forth his “Parental Rights in Education Act” (dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” by critics), which prevented elementary school teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with young children. After initially remaining silent, Bob Chapek, then CEO of The Walt Disney Company, condemned the law after harsh criticism from Cast Members and fans for his silence. In a statement, he even went so far as to say Disney would work to repeal the law.
That didn’t sit well with Ron DeSantis. In response, the Governor stripped Walt Disney World of its special governing district, Reedy Creek. In its place, he installed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and hand-picked the board members.
Naturally, Disney didn’t take too kindly to this. After all, they had essentially been a self-governing entity for 50 years. They filed a federal lawsuit against the Governor, claiming he had violated their First Amendment right to free speech.
How It’s Going
Shortly after, DeSantis announced his candidacy for President in the 2024 election. This took the fight to the national stage, where he faced opposition from not just the Democrats but from members of his own party as well.
In an interview, DeSantis stated that the reason he won’t pick up a phone to call CEO Bob Iger to attempt to end the battle is because “We’ve basically moved on. They are suing the state of Florida. They are going to lose that lawsuit. So what I would say is, ‘Drop the lawsuit. You have the state that even CNBC ranks as number one of all 50 states for economy.”
That wouldn’t be the end of the fight, though. Disney responded to the suggestion by filing a new claim for damages alleging breach of contract, stating that they “have suffered and will continue to suffer” from the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s nullification of several contracts.
The claim stems from Disney’s 11th-hour deal with the Reedy Creek Improvement District, signed by both parties just before the district was set to be dissolved. The agreement authorized the use and development of land for numerous new theme parks and hotels, essentially rendering the new Oversight board useless. The committee said that Disney acted illegally when striking these deals and rendered the contracts null and void. Disney claims the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has no authority to do this.
Disney has made it clear that you don’t get to make an enemy of Mickey. Ron DeSantis may want to end the fight, but Disney isn’t going to allow him to simply say, “I won. Fight over.” Disney is going for a full and complete victory over Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and nothing less will do.
Bob Iger has called DeSantis’ tactics “anti-Florida” and “anti-business.” Their newest lawsuit proves that Disney is intent on having their day court. It also sends a message to future combatants: mess with The Mouse, and you won’t walk away unscathed.