It feels like there isn’t a day that goes by where the battle of Disney and Ron DeSantis in Florida does not escalate, and this week as a whole was no different. In fact, it showed that Disney beat the polarizing Governor of the Sunshine State.
The journey of Ron DeSantis taking on one of the world’s largest corporations can be boiled down to the arrival of the controversial Florida Parental Rights in Education Bill, or the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, in early 2022. After the bill passed through the House and the Senate, DeSantis signed it into law before it took effect state-wide in July.
Following former CEO Bob Chapek’s eventual condemnation of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a very public tête-à-tête began between the two powerhouses, leaving the Walt Disney World Resort’s historic Reedy Creek Improvement District in the dust. The self-governing special district has been rebranded as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, with a board of conservative individuals hand-selected by Governor DeSantis running the show. That was until Bob Iger and Disney invoked a King Charles III clause, which essentially rescinded the power DeSantis had just gained.
Following that, Disney sued the Florida Governor, with the latter countersuing shortly after. The political and cultural war has divided many individuals who see DeSantis’ attack on a private business as un-American. In contrast, others have applauded the politician’s swift actions against “woke” Disney. DeSantis did once say that Florida is where woke “goes to die,” after all.
And it was his conservative nature that initially gave him frontrunner status for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination. That reputation has been marred in the last few weeks as DeSantis digs his heels in deeper in his war against the Mouse, even leaving his own political party fractured over his actions.
Related: Video Shows “De-Wokeified Magical Kingdom” as Disney Becomes “DeSantis World”
That said, just as Disney stated the conflict has not hurt its business (in fact, they are still planning to invest billions in Florida over the upcoming years), Governor DeSantis has still gone ahead with announcing his presidential run.
In a move to engage the masses and tap into the popularity of social media in 2023, DeSantis chose to announce his presidential bid in a conversation with Elon Musk on Twitter Spaces. The widely-panned event saw technical difficulties damage the conference as 600,000 users tried to join in concurrently. Another Twitter Spaces room with DeSantis and David Sacks drew 300,000, and it is here that DeSantis announced his bid to be the next President of the United States, per The Verge.
To put it into perspective, Donald Trump’s CNN Town Hall, also on Wednesday night, drew 3.3 million viewers. The divisive former President is DeSantis’s party rival and the other frontrunner for the Republican nomination.
But to bring this back to Disney, Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) made a note to his 200k+ followers when he said:
Fact: Disney World of Florida had more visitors to their park last week than the number of people who logged into DeSantis presidential announcement.
Related: The Fight Is Done as Disney World President Releases Statement Over Florida Government Takeover
While there are no accurate numbers for Walt Disney World’s attendance this week, even looking at averages, Disney’s weekly attendance is far higher than the 600,000 that tried to join Musk’s Space and the subsequent DeSantis and Sacks call. To put it into perspective, in 2022, Walt Disney World Resort welcomed just over 58 million visitors, which works out to around 1.1 million Guests per week. Disney’s attendance vastly outperformed those signing in to hear DeSantis announce his bid live.
True, at the time of writing, the Twitter Spaces call now states that 3.9 million have tuned in, but arguably many could be clicking just to hear the technical shambles it ended up being reported as. Alas, we’ll never know. But what we do know is that Disney has not suffered any visitor repercussions because of DeSantis, and that is from Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chair Josh D’Amaro himself.
Did you tune into Twitter Spaces, or are you fed up with hearing about the battle of Disney and Ron DeSantis in Florida? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!