DeSantis Claims Florida Tourists Come To See Him, Not Disney

in Disney, Walt Disney World

Ron DeSantis wearing sunglasses with Captain Mickey

Credit: Disney/ Inside the Magic

Governor Ron DeSantis is making a pretty bold claim: tourists come to Florida because of him and not the massively popular, iconic Walt Disney World Resort.

Ron DeSantis looking sad with Mickey Mouse laughing on his shoulder
Credit: NBC/Disney/Inside the Magic

This very dubious notion is part of the presidential candidate’s recent push to assert that he is winning his ongoing feud with the Walt Disney Company, one of the most beloved media institutions in the world. Although there are still multiple lawsuits (in both federal and state court) pending between DeSantis and Disney, the governor really wants people to believe that Florida is benefitting because of his battle against Mickey Mouse.

DeSantis and Bob Chapek

Disney is one of the biggest employers in Florida, responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs in Central Florida alone. In fact, the Walt Disney World Resort (the target of much of Ron DeSantis‘ ire) is the largest single-site employer in the entire state and a huge source of tax revenue.

A stack of $100 bills with Walt Disney World Resort to the left and Disneyland Resort to the right.
Credit: Edited by Inside The Magic

Related: DeSantis Gives Bizarre Disney Interview, Says He’s Saving America

Despite that, Governor DeSantis turned on the Walt Disney Company hard when former CEO Bob Chapek publically condemned the Parental Rights in Education Act, better known as the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law. After months of public pressure, Disney cut political donations and came out against the act, leading to a furious war between the governor and a company that brings more than $40 billion a year in revenue to Central Florida.

Bob Chapek has since resigned and been replaced by former and current Disney CEO Bob Iger, but if anything, the feud has only heated up.

Disney, Reedy Creek, and Central Florida

Shortly after DeSantis and Disney began sniping at each other in the media, the governor dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement District and replaced it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, basically stripping away decades of Disney work and power in the area.

Ron DeSantis and Minnie Mouse in Disney World
Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney has accused Ron DeSantis of dissolving the special tax district around Walt Disney World as retaliation for protected free speech, which is currently being battled out in federal court.

In state court, the former Reedy Creek Improvement District is the topic of several different lawsuits, which are not going well for DeSantis and his handpicked board of directors. It doesn’t help that the board itself is being hit by accusations after allegations of corruption, insider dealing, and ethics violations.

Related: DeSantis Board Accused of Inside-Dealing After Lawyer Given $500 per Hour Pay

Who Creates Florida Tourism?

Recently, Disney released an extensive study from Oxford Economics that confirmed the literal tens of billions of dollars that the company brings to the Central Florida economy and the hundreds of thousands of jobs. Needless to say, it did not reflect well on Governor DeSantis to be feuding with the powerhouse of his constituency.

Now, in what is likely an attempt at a response, the governor’s official Twitter account posted a short infographic, claiming that Florida is doing record numbers of tourism and taking credit for it.

The post caption reads, “From July to September, Florida had 35.1 million visitors, which is a record for the third quarter and puts our state on pace for another a record-setting year. Thanks to our freedom first agenda, Florida’s tourism industry is thriving.”

While Disney is not the only tourist attraction in Florida, it is certainly hard to argue that it is not one of the primary reasons for people flocking to Orange County every year. Governor DeSantis, however, really wants people to think those tourists are traveling for the pure pleasure of his politics.

Do people come to Florida for DeSantis or Disney? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!

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