“Nobody Has Made Disney More Money than Me,” DeSantis Claims

in Disney, Walt Disney World

Disney and DeSantis, laughing while Mickey Mouse looks scared, in front of Space Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort. The DeSantis Disney battle.

Credit: Inside the Magic

After some technical difficulties, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his bid for the 2024 United States presidential campaign during a Twitter Space with Elon Musk on Wednesday. DeSantis opened the floor for questions after giving a speech about the importance of free speech and American freedom. Of course, the moderator quickly highlighted his battle against Walt Disney World Resort.

DeSantis touted defeating the company, passing the Parental Right In Education Act despite former Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s fierce opposition to the anti-LGBTQIA+ law known as “Don’t Say Gay.” He accused The Walt Disney Company of “jamming” inappropriate ideology into children.

“We did, as you say, win on the issue,” DeSantis said. “But, what happened was Disney’s posturing, some of the other statements that their executives were making, kind of the corporate culture, had really been outed as trying to inject matters of sex into the programming for the youth.”

Ron DeSantis in a 'Top Gun' inspired jacket, standing in front of an American flag. Text reads, "Never back down from a fight."
Credit: RonDeSantis.com

Though Disney accused DeSantis of illegally retaliating against the company’s protected speech by dissolving the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Republican presidential candidate argued that Florida “put them on a pedestal many decades ago.”

“We just didn’t feel that we were comfortable maintaining that relationship, and so we ended their self-governing status,” he continued. “So Disney has to live under the same laws as everybody. They gotta pay the same taxes as everybody, and obviously, they’ll be responsible for those debts.”

The only reason the fight continued, DeSantis claimed, is the lawsuit that Disney filed against the state of Florida. He called any Republicans who supported the company “corporatists.”

Reedy Creek Fire Dept. truck in front EPCOT's Spaceship Earth at Disney World
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

“These are all corporate goodies. This is not the way you run a competitive economy, and the arrangement had really outlived its usefulness,” DeSantis said. “But it persisted because Disney was so politically powerful. I think the company’s ethos have changed in a way that’s alienated a lot of people in our legislature and in Florida, so there was really no justification to keep it.”

“They want to be treated differently than Universal and Sea World, and we don’t think that’s appropriate,” he concluded. “I think that they should withdraw the lawsuit, but obviously, we’re going to defend our actions because we think we have the right to do what we did.”

DeSantis also accused the media of flipping loyalties, having previously “hammered Disney.”

“Just because I happened to be involved in bringing it back to reality and making sure that they were under the same laws, well then all of a sudden, they’re running to Disney’s defense,” he said. “I mean, are you kidding me?”

disney imagineers in front of spaceship earth
Credit: Disney Parks Blog

When asked about the now-canceled Walt Disney Imagineering move to Lake Nona, Florida, DeSantis told Musk that it had nothing to do with the fallout of “Don’t Say Gay” and the Reedy Creek conflict.

“I’m assuming if they were in better financial shape and they saw the project was lucrative, they would’ve gone forward with it,” he said. “But I think clearly they’ve had some problems with their stock price and a lot of other issues.”

Despite the conflict, DeSantis maintained that he had done more for The Walt Disney Company than anyone else.

“Nobody probably has made Disney more money than me because they were open during Covid and they were closed in California,” he concluded. “That went on for many, many months, where literally I had all the theme parks in Florida open in 2020. People are going. It’s safe. They’re having fun… We were, I think, a much better place to be doing business.”

Follow Inside the Magic’s coverage to keep up with this developing story, and share your thoughts on the “DeSantis Disney battle” with us in the comments. 

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