The DeSantis-Disney Saga: A Week For The Ages

in Disney, Walt Disney World

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Credit: Inside the Magic

What a week it has been in the most recent iteration in the saga that has been dubbed The Walt Disney Company versus Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The drama keeps increasing; the heat of the battle between these two goliaths has seemingly turned up in the last few weeks.

Governor DeSantis VS. Walt Disney World
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: DeSantis Plagiarizes Disney In Latest Political Move

The Events Leading Up To The Last Few Weeks

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been fighting non-stop against Walt Disney World and the Walt Disney Company over Disney’s refusal to support his “Don’t Say Gay” bill, among other political proposals.

The battle between Governor DeSantis and Disney has lasted for over a year at this point. The dispute between the two began with Disney’s public stance against Florida’s HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education bill, which was drafted to prohibit classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 classrooms and to require such conversations after third grade to be age-appropriate. After Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in late March 2022, Disney immediately fired back with a statement condemning the bill’s passing and vowing to stand with those who endeavored to see the law repealed.

In response, Governor DeSantis has ferociously gone after the Reedy Creek Improvement District, dismantling their power and implementing his own Tourism Board, threatening tolls, taxes, and even building a state prison on a parcel of land adjacent to the Walt Disney World Resort. Eventually, the Florida Governor got what he wanted. He successfully took control of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District after Ron DeSantis led a charge against the company for calling out the state’s controversial bill. The controversy caused many problems for Bob Chapek, who was serving as CEO of The Walt Disney Company at the time, and was cited as one of the main reasons as to why he ultimately lost his job.

Bob Iger in black and white and Ron DeSantis in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World

Related: World Turns on DeSantis as Disney Plays its Greatest Trick Yet In Reedy Creek Battle

Eventually, the world would come to find out that it seemed that for all of Governor DeSantis’ efforts, his legislation, and his new board would have little to no effect on Walt Disney World Resort after all. In a brilliant legal maneuver by The Walt Disney Company’s legal team, a report from The Orlando Sentinel revealed it effectively made The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, previously the Reedy Creek Improvement District, had become powerless. The Walt Disney Company passed an agreement with the board just one day before Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s hand-selected committee took over the Osceola/Orange County district.

In summary, the Walt Disney Company used a “royal lives clause” to enact strict covenants on the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District that rendered it practically useless until “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England.” The new rules forbid the district from using the Disney name or “fanciful characters such as Mickey Mouse” until such time.

The move seemingly poked the proverbial bear and began an all-out war between the two sides.

Governor DeSantis on the left, and Mickey and Minnie Mouse on the right
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: DeSantis Threatening Retaliation Against Disney Over “Secret” Reedy Creek Maneuvers

The last 14 days have been littered with lawsuits, public threats, and seemingly outrageous claims. We review some of what has transpired during these last few weeks:

Gov. DeSantis Targets Disney’s Monorail

On April 25, Florida legislators amended a new bill targeting Disney’s Monorail system in Walt Disney World. This action by the Florida Legislature came days after a press conference held by Gov. DeSantis in which he discussed the recent state takeover of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District.

This new bill attempts to cause more inconveniences to Disney and allow the state of Florida even more control over the Resort. The amendment explicitly targets the Monorail system at Walt Disney World, stating that “any governmentally or privately owned fixed-guideway transportation systems operating in this state which are located within an independent special district created by a local act which has boundaries within two contiguous counties.”

desantis-monorail

Related: Disney Shutting Down Several Iconic Rides Indefinitely

The amendment requires that the monorail must be closed during all safety inspections.

Gov DeSantis revealed he wants to change safety protocols for the Walt Disney World Resort. It’s possible the new bill could also affect Disney’s Skyliner, which connects to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, EPCOT, and several hotels across the Orlando property.

Disney Sues DeSantis 

The feud between Disney and DeSantis finally came to a roadblock when Disney officially filed a lawsuit against the Florida Governor. Disney and its CEO Bob Iger have been vocal that they believe DeSantis’ actions to be “anti-business” and “anti-Florida,” as Disney is the single largest taxpayer in the state and the largest employer in Central Florida. Recently, they released a new page on their website outlining their service to the community and the importance of Reedy Creek.

In the filing and statement made by The Walt Disney Company, the lawsuit claims that the board’s actions were “orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech” and “Now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”

Reedy Creek Disney Lawsuit
Credit: CBS News

Related: DeSantis Responds to Disney World Lawsuit, Refuses to Back Down

It also cites Disney’s first amendment rights as a company and draws back to the fact that they are being retaliated against because they expressed an opinion that DeSantis and his allies did not like. However, Disney also notes that they are in a fortunate position to have the power and resources to fight back, “a stand smaller businesses and individuals might not be able to take when the State comes after them for expressing their own views. In America, the government cannot punish you for speaking your mind.”

In response, DeSantis’s Communications Director, Taryn Fenske, said that Florida is “unaware of any legal right that a company has to operate its own government or maintain special privileges not held by other businesses in a state.”

In a press release, Fenske wrote that the “lawsuit is yet another example of [Disney’s] hope to undermine the will of the Florida voters and operate outside the bounds of the law.”

BREAKING: Walt Disney World Suing Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Credit: Inside The Magic

Related: Gov. DeSantis Makes Activity Illegal in Disney World

Covid-19 Safety Mandates Are Now Illegal at Walt Disney World Resort

One of the most shocking changes enacted by the new board involves COVID-19 safety protocols, all of which are now illegal within the district’s reach. The board recently passed a resolution that makes COVID-19 safety mandates from businesses, such as wearing masks and social distancing, illegal. The move is considered political in nature and helps Governor DeSantis claim on the campaign trail that he continues to fight for civil liberties.

Guests wearing face masks at disneyland resort
Credit: Disney

Related: DeSantis Plagiarizes Disney In Latest Political Move

What Will Happen Next?

Perhaps the main reason why Florida Governor Ron DeSantis decided to start a war against Disney is because he had plans to run for President in 2024. DeSantis made a political calculation based on polling that “fighting the woke” was popular among the Republican base and would help him land a primary win against more moderate candidates, as former President Donald Trump’s popularity seemed to diminish following the events of January 6.

However, given the recent embarrassment, this has seemed to have backfired on DeSantis. Not only have many high-ranking and national Republican figures stated that his war against Disney had gone too far, but he is also receiving criticism within his own caucus in his home state.

Mickey sticks out his tongue at a crying Ron DeSantis
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: DeSantis Will Lose in “Bloodbath” Case Against Disney

Even if a lawsuit isn’t successful against DeSantis, The Walt Disney Company and CEO Bob Iger could ultimately enjoy the last laugh. Given his political standing, DeSantis has looked more and more incompetent in this ordeal. The final nail in the coffin for Disney could be that DeSantis ultimately gets pushed out of the primary for lack of political and financial support from his base of donors.

After all, even if DeSantis doesn’t become President, the Florida Governor seat has term limits. It’s safe to say that Disney will reside in Florida much longer than DeSantis ever will.

Do you think Disney has prevailed over DeSantis? Drop us a comment below and let us know what you think!

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