DeSantis’ Crusade Against Disney Is Not Entirely Wrong

in Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World

Mickey Mouse and Ron DeSantis in front of Cinderella Castle, representing the Disney DeSantis legal battle.

Credit: Inside the Magic

As the legal war between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company continues, a recent report takes DeSantis’ side with a divisive view.

The Disney vs. DeSantis feud seems far from over, with both sides continuing to tug in their favor, ignoring the impact the conflict — which has been going on for over a year — is having on both parties, affecting public image and attendance in Disney’s case. 

Related: Disney Is Losing Support to Ron DeSantis, Shocking Poll Reveals

Unsurprisingly, the legal and political conflict has stirred strongly polarized opinions surrounding it, with some fearing for the company’s future, its permanence in Florida, and the lengths both parties are willing to go.

Additionally, the growing tension has even caused fans to point out a growing disfavor towards Florida from The Walt Disney Company. And while no official statement has addressed this opinion, ignoring it is becoming increasingly difficult.

Ron DeSantis scared at Cinderella Castle amid his conflict against Disney
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Disney Is Not Even Trying To Hide Its Disfavor Toward Florida With Upcoming Offerings

However, a recent report sided with the Florida Governor, discussing a divisive view of the conflict and stating that DeSantis chose the wrong Disney battle but is fighting the right war. But is he really?

DeSantis vs. Disney

Disney this, DeSantis that. Appointments, resignations, lawsuits, and more have surrounded Walt Disney World Resort for over a year, causing a palpable tension to grow around the Orlando-based resort, harming local businesses, and forcing hundreds of fans to reconsider their trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth.

Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom
Credit: Victoria Mills

Related: Op-Ed: Is Disney Announcing Its Exodus From Florida?

A quick summary of the ongoing battle

The ongoing legal and political battle in Florida was triggered by Disney’s refusal to support the Florida Governor’s divisive Parental Rights in Education — commonly known as “Don’t Say Gay” — law, set in motion in early 2022. The tug-war has since strained both parties, with no end to the conflict in sight.

The growing tension and continuing feud have even caused Disney to withdraw billion-dollar projects from Floridapossibly announcing the company’s departure from the Sunshine State. Additionally, Disney officials continue to push forward on a multi-decade investment out of Floridaofficially pitching the idea to local government.

Latest developments

Recent polls have revealed that Americans agree with DeSantis over the ongoing Disney feud, standing behind the Governor’s severe actions to limit Disney’s autonomy and remove its special tax status. However, Disney is unwilling to go down without a fight, as the company recently filed a lawsuit against Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board for allegedly violating the Florida Constitution.

Bob Iger and Ron DeSantis
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Disney “Reclaiming the Magic,” DeSantis No Longer an Obstacle

The most recent lawsuit caused the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to file a motion asking for a dismissal, but no further updates have become public. Additionally, several Central Florida Tourism Oversight District members have been forced to leave their positions as the conflict continues.

Related: DeSantis Administration Crumbles, Forced to Make Drastic Changes

Could other businesses afford to put up a similar fight?

Considering that a recent report revealed that Disney would lose nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in its legal battle against Gov. DeSantis, it’s safe to say that no other business could afford to engage in a legal drama as big as the Disney vs. DeSantis feud. Not even other theme parks in the Sunshine State.

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort has flown under Gov. DeSantis’ radar for the entirety of his crusade against Disney and its “wokeness.” While Universal has publicly celebrated its support toward the LGBTQIA+ community, the company remained silent when the divisive “Don’t Say Gay” Bill became public.

Universal Orlando Resort Annual Passholders (Guests) posing outside Universal Studios Florida
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Additionally — despite ongoing projects — Universal does not own a special district for its development and doesn’t receive any special privileges from the Florida Government, which also defeats any attempt to pursue the Orlando-based resort.

What is going on at Universal?

Universal Orlando Resort continues to go toe to toe with Walt Disney World Resort to earn the title of “Best Theme Park,” recently hammering the House of Mouse despite the top-voted attraction being in Disney World.

As the company continues to expand with all-new locations and experiences currently in development in Frisco, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada, it appears nothing is stopping Universal from taking over as the country’s top theme park and entertainment company.

Are any new projects taking place at Universal Orlando Resort?

Yes! While the company’s Texas and Nevada locations continue their respective development processes, Universal Orlando Resort is going full steam ahead on constructing the resort’s third theme park — deemed by many as the “Disney Killer” — Universal’s Epic Universe. The new park is set to be home to breathtaking new experiences, innovative rides, and more!

Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and Universal's Volcano Bay
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Related: Universal Is Making All the Wrong Moves Ahead of Epic Universe’s Opening

Additionally, Universal announced that the company would jump in on a multi-million-dollar improvement project in Central Florida.

Are other Orlando theme parks being affected by Gov. DeSantis’ decisions?

While Disney and Universal are Florida’s most notorious theme park and entertainment companies, the Sunshine State is home to more amusement parks packed with fun for the whole family. But have they been shaken by Governor DeSantis?

SeaWorld theme parks

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment owns and operates two theme parks in Florida: SeaWorld Orlando — which opened a groundbreaking attraction earlier this year — and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay — recently forced to make significant modifications in the park in response to irresponsible guest behavior.

Fortunately, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has not reported any friction with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, though other SeaWorld locations are being targeted by local government.

Guests on a roller coaster inside of SeaWorld Orlando
Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

LEGOLAND Florida

Similarly, LEGOLAND Florida has flown under Governor DeSantis’ radar while the theme park continues to develop new experiences for Guests of all ages. 

Related: Did You Know Single Men Cannot Enter This Theme Park?

ICON Park

While ICON Park has not been particularly targeted by Ron DeSantis, a unanimous bill approval recently put the amusement park back in the spotlight.

The “Tyre Sampson Act,” approved unanimously by the Florida Legislature, aims to tighten regulations at amusement parks in the Sunshine State following the tragic death of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson in 2022 aboard Orlando FreeFall at ICON Park in Orlando.

Family arriving at the entrance for ICON Park
Credit: ICON Park

Beyond Governor DeSantis’ Crusade

Leaving theme parks aside, a recent report boldly stated that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is fighting the right war, but he picked the wrong adversary.

The report states that, beyond DeSantis’ personal crusade against “woke” companies, the Governor made the right decision in trying to strip The Walt Disney Company of its incentives and special status, as granting companies with those privileges often proves counterproductive for the states that home multi-million-dollar brands.

Bob Iger in front of the Disney logo
Credit: Disney

The report questions why Disney should deserve “white glove tax treatment,” particularly considering that NBCUniversal, a part of Comcast Corporation, didn’t receive similar incentives despite owning a theme park in Florida.

Is giving incentives beneficial for the states’ development?

Several multi-million-dollar companies, including Apple and Amazon, often receive tax breaks and incentives to move to states. However, these benefits are not granted perpetually, as was the case for Disney. Apple’s subsidies to build in North Carolina lasted 39 years, while Amazon’s subsidies in Virginia were set for 15 years.

However, while these incentives look to attract investment into the states and create more sources of employment, providing special conditions for companies “can go badly,” according to the report. “A 1994 study by economist Timothy Bartik suggests that incentives are often revenue negative. Even when they work, they aren’t always slam dunks. North Carolina is expected to lose money on its deal with Apple.”

Ron DeSantis
Credit: Wikimedia

“Florida’s own analysis in 2021 suggested that for every $1 break given to the entertainment industry, it receives just 7 cents back.” author Jennifer Saba continued, adding, “DeSantis chose the wrong battle but the right war.”

Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District

“In 1967 the Florida State legislature, working with Walt Disney World Company, created a special taxing district – called the Reedy Creek Improvement District – that would act with the same authority and responsibility as a county government.” This is how the official website of the Reedy Creek Improvement District describes Disney’s special district.

While the development of Reedy Creek aimed “to turn 38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swamp land, into a global destination resort that welcomes millions of visitors every year,” the autonomy the Improvement District provided for The Walt Disney Company is something not many are happy with.

Reedy Creek Improvement District sign with red flowers in the foreground
Credit: Wikimedia

As the feud between Disney and DeSantis continues, the future of the Reedy Creek Improvement District remains uncertain, and The Walt Disney Company’s benefits with it.

Do you think Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is right in continuing his battle against The Walt Disney Company? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!

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