Disney Ratings Fall Significantly as Company Faces Political Backlash

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Credit: Disney

It would be an understatement to say that the last few months have been an incredibly tumultuous time for The Walt Disney Company. As soon as word got out that the company had supported Florida’s controversial Parental Rights law, fans, employees, and leaders were stunned.

alice and the white rabbit at disney world
Credit: Disney

Many felt betrayed that The Walt Disney Company, a business so dedicated to family-friendly entertainment, would even get involved with such a hot-button issue. Though, in the social media age, companies are way more willing to step out and at least voice some of the core values of said company (whether or not their actions line up with these beliefs is another story).

Eventually, The Walt Disney Company took a stance against the bill after waiting a little too long, which caused friction between the company and the state of Florida, with Gov. Ron DeSantis continuing to escalate the battle with incendiary words and even more hostile actions.

mom taking picture of two daughters by cinderella castle at disney world
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney D23 Announcement a “Step in the Right Direction” Says Imagineer

This decision caused an immense amount of friction between Disney and its employees as well. After the original stance on Florida’s bill, thousands of employees protested and walked out, with videos going viral online. This mess was made even messier when Pixar issued a statement directly toward Disney, criticizing the company’s stance on the issue.

Pixar also made the claim that Disney had tried to cut and censor LGBTQ+ content. A portion of the statement reads,“[n]early every moment of overtly gay affection is cut at Disney’s behest, regardless of when there is a protest from both the creative teams and executive leadership at Pixar.”

Pixar staff also requested that Disney “immediately withdraw all financial support from the legislators behind the ‘Don’t Say Gay” bill.” Over the last two years, Disney donated 300K to 68 Florida politicians backing the bill. The Senate sponsor, Ocala Republican Dennis Baxley, has actually backed anti-gay legislation in Florida for years. Baxley once compared kids with same-sex parents to kids raised by alcoholics and abusers, saying: “I’m not phobic, but I simply can’t affirm homosexuality.” The next year, The Walt Disney Company wrote Baxley a check, with the most recent one coming in last year.

Reedy Creek Fire Dept.
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

Related: Disney’s Iconic Railroad Back in Motion at Magic Kingdom Amid Closure

These events sparked widespread speculation on whether or not this more open political stance would hurt Disney’s bottom line. So far, this has not been the case, with the most recent quarterly earnings report showing Disney is still on top.

According to the report, The Walt Disney Company’s revenues for the quarter and nine months grew 26% and 28%, respectively, an impressive number considering the earnings report for the first quarter of the year already showed record growth for the company.

“We had an excellent quarter, with our world-class creative and business teams powering outstanding performance at our domestic theme parks, big increases in live-sports viewership, and significant subscriber growth at our streaming services. With 14.4 million Disney+ subscribers added in the fiscal third quarter, we now have 221 million total subscriptions across our streaming offerings,” said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company.

“We continue to transform entertainment as we near our second century, with compelling new storytelling across our many platforms and unique immersive physical experiences that exceed guest expectations, all of which are reflected in our strong operating results this quarter.”

Bob Chapek
Credit: CNBC

Related: Disney Ending Infamous Daytime Show This Month

Disney’s stock price has been wobbly as well over the last few months. Since the start of the unprecedented pandemic, The Walt Disney Company’s stock price has been floating between $95 and $110. At $95 earlier this year, this is less than half of what it was last year. While all of this is speculation, many would suggest that some of the drops in stock price correlate with the controversy and backlash the company has faced within the last few months, as stated above.

The month of March was not a great one, with Disney first finding itself at the center of a tense situation regarding Florida’s controversial bill. However, Disney has been making progress. This has come quite slowly, but progress nonetheless.

As of September 15, 2022, Disney’s stock price sits around $112 per share.

Walt Disney Company Water Tower
Credit: Disney

This bump in the stock price is impressive, considering a new poll that was revealed recently showing approval ratings for Disney are falling. You can see the data in a tweet shared below:

Exclusive: New polling from @WPAIntel shows that Disney’s approval rating has fallen from 77% last year to just 51% today. The company is now underwater with Republican voters.

As you can see, according to a new poll from WPAIntel, Disney’s approval rating has fallen from a healthy 77% to just 51%. The company is specifically having trouble with Republican voters and Guests who are on the conservative side of the aisle.

The poll was expanded upon further in a tweet below:

By comparison, other tech and entertainment firms that compete with Disney, such as Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and Google, have approval ratings mostly in the 80s.

Related: Iconic Disneyland Attraction Rumored to be Closing in Near Future

It is not a surprise that Disney would be struggling with conservatives, considering the aforementioned issues the company has faced against the state of Florida.

Gov. DeSantis has spearheaded an effort to remove Disney’s special Reedy Creek Ruling. The Reedy Creek Improvement Act essentially allows Walt Disney World to reside in Florida unregulated, acting as its own “government” in a way. The act involved creating a special taxing district that acts with the same authority as a county government.

The legislation made the claim that landowners within the Reedy Creek Improvement District, primarily Walt Disney World, could be allowed to be solely responsible for paying the cost of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection etc. Local taxpayers, meaning residents of Orange and Osceola County, would not have to pay for building or maintaining those services. Reedy Creek, which is controlled by Disney, can issue tax-free bonds, levy taxes, oversee land use and environmental protections and provide essential public services.

Reedy Creek Fire Department
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department Website

“The path forward is, that Disney will not control its own government in the state of Florida,” DeSantis has stated. “Disney will have to follow the same laws that every other company has to follow in the state of Florida. They will pay their share of taxes, and they will be responsible for paying the debts.”

Under current Florida state law, the district’s assets and responsibilities would be transferred to the “local general purpose government” when and if the Disrtict is officially terminated. Those specific governments include Orange County and Osceola County and the Disney-controlled cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista which contain multiple Disney World properties.

“I’d much rather have the state leading that effort than potentially having local government [in charge]. … I’m worried that they [local officials] would use that as a pretext to raise taxes on people when that’s what they would want to do anyways and then try to blame Reedy Creek. So we’re not going to give them that opportunity,” said Gov. DeSantis

magic kingdom monorail with cinderella castle and space mountain
Credit: Disney

The relationship between the state of Florida and the Walt Disney World Resort seems to be hanging in the balance. We recently reported how the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement Act could financially affect taxpayers. We will continue to update our story as more information comes out.

However, the future looks potentially very bright for Disney, especially Walt Disney World. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind just opened at EPCOT, making it the very first roller coaster to open in the Park. Fans have been loving the new ride and consider it a stepFollowing months of political struggles and battles, Disney’s approval rating has fallen significantly with a select group of people. in the right direction for the future of Disney World attractions.

More on Cosmic Rewind

Begin your adventure by touring the Galaxarium—a planetarium-like exhibition showcasing the similarities and differences between Xandar and Earth’s galaxies. You’ll even get to discover some of the incredible wonders of Xandar and learn about their technology

Just as you are about to reach the culmination of the tour, everything goes sideways, and you are called into action to help the Guardians of the Galaxy. Join Rocket, Groot, Gamora and Star-Lord on an urgent mission where you’ll rewind, rotate and head towards the action through an exciting space pursuit.

Ready for an awesome quest across the cosmos to save the galaxy? It’s all up to you!

Tron at Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney

We also just found out that TRON Lightcycle/Run is set to open Spring 2023 at the Magic Kingdom during Disney’s most recent D23 expo.

Disney D23 is “The largest Disney fan event in the world,” and this year’s expo will be no different. This year’s  D23 Expo Presented by Visa celebrates the wonderful worlds of The Walt Disney Company, including Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars across film, television, theme parks, and more!

More on TRON

Based on the popular film franchise of the same name, TRON Lightcycle Run in Orlando will be heavily influenced by the TRON Lightcycle Power Run coaster at Shanghai Disneyland. This ride is officially described as:

Experience high-speed thrills and chills as the Grid comes alive in a heart-pounding race for survival. Created as a friendly way for “Programs” and “Users” to interact, the Power Run pits team against team in the quintessential quest to capture 8 Energy Gates and triumph over opponents.

Prepare for digitization after entering the portal—this is your access into the energy, lights and excitement of TRON’s high-tech universe. As you leave the real world behind, you’ll proceed to the games as a member of Team Blue, ready to compete against some of the Grid’s most menacing Programs.

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