Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill granting him control over Walt Disney World’s self-governing district in response to the company’s opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law. As part of the new law, DeSantis will appoint a five-member board to oversee government services in the sprawling Florida theme park properties. The move follows Disney’s opposition to the law, which prohibits teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Critics accuse the company of promoting “woke” ideology that is inappropriate for children’s entertainment.
DeSantis’s swift response to Disney’s opposition is viewed as a cultural and political win for him, strengthening his position as a Republican leader on the national stage. The law allows the district to continue issuing bonds and providing utilities and infrastructure services while subjecting it to multiple layers of state oversight. Although the creation of the self-governing district was critical to Disney’s decision to build in Orlando in the 1960s, the company did not respond to requests for comment on the latest development.
The governor’s takeover of Disney’s self-governing district marks another chapter in his controversial leadership style, which often pits him against perceived political opponents. DeSantis has been leveraging cultural and political divides to gain national attention and position himself as a conservative leader in the Republican Party. The move also aligns with his larger political ambitions, as he is widely speculated to run for president in 2024.
The new law not only changes the name of the district but also subjects it to various layers of state oversight, which would limit the autonomy that Disney once enjoyed. While the district’s financial abilities and debt obligations remain intact, the law prohibits people who have worked with or contracted with a theme park in the past three years from serving on the new governing board. The move is seen as a clear attempt to cut ties between Disney and the district, as well as to prevent any potential conflicts of interest.
DeSantis’s handling of the Disney district issue has drawn criticism from some quarters. Some have accused him of using his power to punish the entertainment giant for expressing its opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law. Others have questioned the governor’s motives, wondering if the move is purely politically motivated and designed to boost his profile among conservative voters.
The feud between DeSantis and Disney highlights the increasingly polarized nature of politics in the US. As both sides dig in and refuse to back down, it is unclear how the situation will play out in the long run. However, what is clear is that the governor’s actions have sent a clear message that he will not hesitate to use his power to pursue his political agenda, regardless of the consequences.
In the coming months, DeSantis is expected to continue to push his conservative agenda and strengthen his position in the Republican Party. The fact that he has been able to take on Disney and come out on top is seen by many as a clear sign of his political strength and determination. However, whether this will translate into national success remains to be seen, as he faces stiff competition from other potential presidential candidates within his own party.