Here are the shadiest exchanges between Disney and DeSantis
It seems the happiest place on Earth and Florida’s governor are far from sharing a fairytale ending. The brewing conflict between Disney and Governor Ron DeSantis is capturing headlines and turning up the volume on their courtroom dance track. But as they say in showbiz, the show must go on. Here’s the newest update on the battle between Disney and DeSantis.
The Showdown Begins
The conflict kicked off when Disney vocalized its concerns over a Florida state law that prohibits classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the early grades. DeSantis didn’t take too kindly to this, and in what appeared as a retaliatory move, took control of Walt Disney World’s governing district. This 25,000-acre theme park resort isn’t just a child’s plaything; it’s a massive enterprise with real stakes.
Disney, not one to back down from a challenge, has filed a federal lawsuit against DeSantis, accusing him of suppressing their free speech rights. But DeSantis isn’t on the defensive alone. The governing district, now under his wing, has counter-sued Disney in state court. The drama revolves around past agreements that gave Disney the reins over design and construction, shielding Mickey and friends from any unapproved use.
As part of its legal strategy, Disney recently demanded a peek into DeSantis’ office’s internal chats – texts, emails, you name it. Their focus? The district’s operations, development agreements, and, most intriguingly, the legislation that allowed DeSantis to assume control of the district.
Moreover, the entertainment titan is trying to establish that it was transparent about its agreements. Their aim is to show that they followed the same procedures as other districts, countering claims from DeSantis’ camp that the deals were shadily publicized.
Running Disney’s Kingdom: Not a Walk in the Park
Running the vast expanse of Walt Disney World is no cakewalk. The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, mainly comprised of DeSantis’ appointees, learned this the hard way. With multiple key members exiting stage left and a public outcry over the decision to cut a coveted Disney attraction pass for the district’s workers, it’s clear that this newly-appointed board faces a rocky road ahead.
In a telling move, the board recently sanctioned a $194.5 million budget, reserving a hefty $4.5 million for litigation costs. Evidently, they’re gearing up for what could be an intense legal roller coaster ride.
For DeSantis, this clash isn’t just about Disney; it’s a broader campaign against what he terms the “war against woke.” The tension really heated up when Disney critiqued an educational bill he championed. This led DeSantis to rally for the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a crucial entity facilitating Disney’s mega theme park creation back in 1967.
This Disney vs. DeSantis saga has been a central tune in DeSantis’ political playlist, even as he vies for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. He believes Floridians are on his side, despite ongoing lawsuits suggesting the discord is far from over.
What’s at Stake?
Beyond the courtroom drama and political maneuvers, what’s genuinely at risk is the heart of Florida’s tourism industry. Disney World alone rings in tourism revenue surpassing $18 billion annually. The company even halted a $1 billion office project, which would have been a boon for Orange County’s job market.
But as they say in showbiz, the show must go on. The newly appointed board is trying to find its footing, with some members openly admitting the steep learning curve ahead. Matters like the utility bills Disney pays have them stumped, leaving many to wonder if they can truly navigate the complexities of such a massive operation.
As this saga unfolds, we’re left wondering: What does the future hold for Disney and its not-so-magical relationship with Florida’s governance? Can the two find a middle ground, or will this be a story of epic battles and fractured fairytales?