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DeSantis Continues to Fight with Disney in Latest Legislative Move

Governor Ron DeSantis intensifies his conflict with Disney, seeking to nullify their attempts to bypass state oversight and revoke a development agreement amid an ongoing dispute over a controversial education bill.

Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has escalated his ongoing conflict with Walt Disney Co, announcing that the state's Republican legislature will work to nullify Disney's efforts to bypass state oversight of Walt Disney World. DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential candidate, has frequently targeted "woke Disney" in his speeches and aims to revoke a development agreement that the company made with outgoing members of an oversight board.

Origins of DeSantis-Disney Tussle Over Controversial Education Bill

The ongoing dispute between DeSantis and one of Florida's largest employers began in March 2022 when then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against a bill limiting the discussion of sexuality and gender identity in Florida elementary school classrooms. The bill, called the Parental Rights in Education Act by Republicans and criticized as the "Don't say gay" law by opponents, has fueled the tension between the two parties.

Proposed Bill to Return Control of Disney World District to State

DeSantis revealed Monday that the new bill would give control of the special district housing Disney World back to a state oversight board run by the governor's appointees. The board would have the authority to determine the development of land adjacent to Disney's theme parks, with possibilities including a state park, other amusement parks, or even a state prison.

DeSantis and Legislature Target Disney's "Unfair Advantage"

DeSantis and the Florida legislature have been working to end Disney's virtual autonomy over Disney World for over 50 years, claiming it constitutes an "unfair advantage." Disney currently employs around 75,000 people in Florida. In February, Florida lawmakers passed a bill granting DeSantis control over a board overseeing municipal services and development in a special district that includes the Walt Disney World resort.

Bob Iger
Bob Iger

Disney CEO Accuses DeSantis of Retaliation and Anti-Business Actions

Disney CEO Bob Iger has labeled the move as retaliation, "anti-business," and "anti-Florida." The company has not commented on DeSantis' remarks from Monday. Before the takeover by DeSantis' appointees, Disney implemented changes to the special tax district agreement, limiting the board's actions for decades. The agreement includes a 10-year comprehensive plan that serves as a blueprint for future development and ensures future boards will honor a commitment to $527 million in planned capital improvements for Walt Disney World over the next decade.

DeSantis Defends Actions, Criticizes "Woke" Corporations

Governor DeSantis defended his actions, stating, "We are a government of laws, not a government of individual men or even a government of 'woke' corporations based in California." The ongoing battle between DeSantis and Disney will likely continue to evolve as both parties maintain their stances on the issues at hand.