The Mickey Mouse Fight House: DeSantis v. Disney

The Mickey Mouse Fight House: DeSantis v. Disney

Benjamin Nguyen

On February 27th, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signed HB9B (2023) into Florida State Law.  HB9B’s purpose: to end Disney’s reign over its special district formerly granted to it by the State of Florida.  Prior to the bill, Disney had special oversight over the district formerly known as Reedy Creek Improvement District.  As the district’s largest land owner, they were given the exclusive de facto right to appoint district board members; however now, district board members will be appointed solely by the governor.

The bill trumped a previously submitted bill that would’ve dissolved the district entirely.  In addition to allowing the governor to appoint the district’s board members, it removes the current ones and also renames the district.  The district will now be known as Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

Governor DeSantis justified the bill saying, “This legislation ends Disney’s self-governing status, makes Disney live under the same laws as everybody else, and ensures that Disney pays its debts and fair share of taxes.”

According to the website of the Florida Governor, the bill ends Disney’s self-governing of the district, makes Disney pay its city taxes instead of Florida taxpayers, and disallows preferential treatment of and exemptions made for Disney.

While the bill aimed at ending Disney’s preferential treatments and special powers over the district, it comes just under a year after the Don’t Say Gay bill’s controversy and Governor DeSantis’ war with Disney over its opposition to the bill.

For a refresh, the Don’t Say Gay bill, as it was dubbed by critics, is actually titled the Parental Rights in Education Act.  In summary, the bill barred “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” from happening.  Essentially, schools cannot teach sexual orientation or gender identity, nor facilitate and harbor conversations on such.

The Don’t Say Gay bill was greatly criticized by democrats on local and federal level, as well as President Biden himself.  Notably however, the bill caused a rift between Governor DeSantis and former Disney CEO Bob Chapek.  From that rift, the Disney v. DeSantis quasi war began.

        While the former CEO Chapek has since been replaced by his predecessor and now successor, Bob Iger, DeSantis has continued his crusade against the Disney corporation for its support and alleged indoctrination of the ‘woke mob’ and woke policies.

With this blow to Disney under the governorship of DeSantis, future escalation may continue as the two clash on social policy.  Time will tell whether or not the multi-billion dollar company can survive the determined Governor DeSantis.