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What Happens to Disney if DeSantis Becomes President?

ron desantis white house mickey mouse
Credit: NBC/ Canva

From lawsuits and prison threats to even King Charles III, the battle between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has escalated dramatically over the last year or so.

It’s been a wild roller coaster just keeping up with the fight between Disney and DeSantis, and now, Governor DeSantis is running for the position of President of the United States in the 2024 election, hoping to take the reins from current President Joe Biden.

But what would happen to Disney if Ron became “President DeSantis”?

DeSantis Disney law may be unconstitutional

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Lawsuit Between Disney and DeSantis

It’s been quite the saga between DeSantis and Disney, all stemming from a political boycott of The Walt Disney Company after former Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, criticized the Florida Parental Rights in Education law (otherwise called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill).

DeSantis signed a law in April 2022 to strip Disney of its self-governance privileges, claiming back then that “If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy.”

Since 1967, the Walt Disney World Resort has been able to reside in Florida unregulated. Reedy Creek allowed Disney to act with the same authority as a county government. Local taxpayers – residents of Orange County and Osceola County – did not have to pay for building or maintaining Disney’s essential services.

After Governor DeSantis removed Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District and his board nullified Disney’s agreement to keep control over its property, Disney sued DeSantis – and then DeSantis countersued.

Bob Iger Pay Cut

Credit: Thomas Hawk, Flickr

Disney filed a lawsuit back in April, suing Ron DeSantis for “a targeted campaign of government retaliation.” Disney CEO Bob Iger argued that the policies set for the theme park giant by Governor DeSantis were “not just anti-Florida, but anti-business.” Iger added that “a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”

In a twist, the former Reedy Creek Development board had signed its power back to Disney before leaving office, a binding declaration that didn’t expire until England’s new King Charles III’s ancestors died out (no, seriously). The agreement severely handicapped the new Ron DeSantis-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.

The Walt Disney Company defended its deals with the board, claiming that when “faced with a newly hostile state administration,” Disney tried to protect its investments in central Florida. Disney said in a motion:

Just over a year ago, Disney expressed a political view that Governor DeSantis did not like. In response, the Governor unleashed a campaign of retaliation, weaponizing the power of government to punish Disney for its protected speech.

Ron DeSantis

Credit: ABC

If DeSantis came into power, would his government continue to “weaponize its power” and retaliate whenever a political view was expressed by a company that he didn’t agree with?

Would we see Disney Parks, Disney Cruise Line, Disney’s streaming service, and Disney movies get more and more restricted – with harsher rules and a never-ending battle of lawsuits? Would this level of “retaliation” extend to other companies not just based in the state of Florida?

Or, could we expect nothing to happen? Was all this “fighting” with Disney and Iger just a method for DeSantis to gain traction and media buzz ahead of his presidential campaign?

Right now, Governor Ron DeSantis is struggling to win over voters in the Republican primary race and has been criticized by not only Democrats but others in his party over his war over Walt Disney World Resort. The Walt Disney Company has also been caught up in the cultural and political war. Theme park attendance is decreasing, subscribers are dropping on Disney Plus, and Disney stock has hit the lowest price in a decade.

Disney argues Judge in DeSantis case should stay

Credit: ABC

DeSantis Has “Moved On” From Disney

In a recent CNBC interview, Governor Ron DeSantis claimed he has “moved on” from Disney and urged Disney CEO Bob Iger to “drop the lawsuit.”

DeSantis went on to boast that he made Disney more money during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Disney Parks were allowed to be open in the state while in California, Disneyland was shut down.

On the flip side, Disney is one of Central Florida’s top taxpayers, contributing more than $1.1 billion in taxes last year, and it’s one of the largest employers in Florida with tens of thousands of Cast Members.

DeSantis Reedy Creek Investigation

Credit: RCID

Related: DeSantis Tells Iger To ‘Drop the Lawsuit’, He and His Allies Have ‘Moved On’

Of course, we can speculate as to why the United States presidential candidate has decided to “move on” from his battle with Disney. Has he realized the pursuit was futile?

Initially, the lawsuit with Disney was one of the main focal points amid other cultural issues in his presidential campaign. Now, his poll numbers have lagged behind the Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has maintained a large lead nationally and in key early primary states.

Governor DeSantis has fallen into third place behind former President Trump and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. DeSantis has dropped 32 points since he announced his presidential bid earlier this year.

In a further blow, billionaire donor Ken Griffin publicly announced that he would not support DeSantis’ campaign, pointing to DeSantis’ “pointless” feud with the Walt Disney Company. Griffin gave DeSantis $5 million for his re-election campaign for governor.

DeSantis responds to billionaire donor criticism over Disney

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Related: After Disney Cost DeSantis His Billionaire Donor, He Tries to Claw Back Some Respect

So if he did become president, would all this Disney feuding be forgotten? Would he focus on more pressing issues that the country faces?

Bob Iger’s words at the Disney company’s annual shareholder meeting in April were that “Our primary mission needs to be to entertain … and to have a positive impact on the world.” If we had President DeSantis, his primary mission should be to have a “positive impact” on the country, not just fight Disney.

Ultimately, if Florida Governor Ron DeSantis becomes the President of the United States, we don’t believe anything would happen to the Walt Disney Company that hasn’t already happened. As much as Disney is the company that entertains, it all feels like DeSantis’s battle was for the one for “show.”

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who has worked at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Adventures by Disney! A British native, she has traveled the world, and now resides in Florida with her husband, an Air Force pilot. Find her children's book at @bear.hug.book

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