Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Strikes Out at Disney During Presidential Announcement on Twitter Spaces

On Wednesday evening Florida Governor Ron DeSantis headed to Twitter Spaces to officially announce his run to become President of the United States. DeSantis supporter and donor David Sacks moderated the audio-only live broadcast on Twitter Spaces and included Elon Musk. During the Q&A portion of the Twitter Spaces, the conversation turned to the ongoing feud between him and Disney in Florida. As opposed to other times when DeSantis has said “There is a new sheriff in town,” DeSantis framed the argument as about self-governance.

The disagreement between DeSantis and Disney has led multiple Republicans to come out against his stance. DeSantis said during the Twitter Spaces that he won’t back down, though. “I think some of these Republicans that are taking Disney’s side, they’re basically showing themselves to be corporatists because these are all corporate goodies, this is not the way that you would run a competitive economy, and the arrangement had really outlived its usefulness but it persisted because Disney was so politically powerful,” DeSantis said.

As the conversation continued David Sacks also noted how Republicans are usually seen by the media as more friendly to corporations but DeSantis’ actions are not that at all. While continuing to talk about the media, DeSantis also used it as an opportunity to bring up the Lake Nona move’s cancellation.

“It’s interesting because the media in Florida for years had hammered Disney and they would point out like that this was not a good arrangement because you know Disney was not accountable to anyone,” DeSantis said. “And oh, by the way, on this project, you know, they had announced this many years ago, but they had not done anything for it. But that is actually not in Reedy Creek so that was at a different part of Orlando and so none of the issues that are involved in their suit would have made a difference there.” 

“Obviously, as a publicly traded corporation you know they have a fiduciary duty to do what’s best for their shareholders. So I’m assuming if they were in better financial shape and they saw the project as lucrative they would have gone forward with it,” DeSantis added. “And I’d just point out, nobody probably has made Disney more money than me because they were open during COVID when they were closed in California.”

This was in reference to the reopening dates of Disney’s theme parks in Florida versus California. In Florida, Walt Disney World Resort reopened its theme parks on July 11, 2023. The Disneyland Resort in California reopened its theme parks on April 30, 2021. In November of 2020, former Disney CEO Bob Chapek said how “extremely disappointed” he was with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s use of “arbitrary standards” for reopening the parks rather than basing decisions on science. Disney lost around $6.9 billion in 2020 due to the closure of its theme parks.

The Twitter Spaces to announce DeSantis’ candidacy was beset by problems initially, causing it to end up starting much later than initially planned. In his initial announcement, DeSantis said “I am running for President of the United States to lead our great American comeback.” He then continued to tout his accomplishments and fault the policies of the Biden administration. This included using Florida as an example of where he would like to take the country moving forward.

DeSantis also spoke about the importance of freedom of speech during the Twitter Space, which is a big portion of the lawsuit he is currently facing from Disney. Disney argues that DeSantis’s actions are an attack on its freedom of speech after it came out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law, commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It was after Disney came out against it that DeSantis turned his attention towards what he called “woke Disney” and began to attack the company and work to take apart the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which is now the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. If Disney wins the lawsuit, things could be reset to the previous status quo.

At this point, DeSantis shows no signs of letting up on his disagreement with Disney. This comes as the company continues forward with plans to invest $17 billion in the state in the coming years on one side and other GOP leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about chasing businesses away on the other. Currently, DeSantis is asking for a new judge for the lawsuit and is expected to then ask for it to be dismissed. With the legislative session over in Florida and the Governor now running for President of the United States, most updates for this feud will most likely come from the courts, along with any moves that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board makes that might end up being nullified by a court ruling.

What do you think about DeSantis’ new statements on the feud with Disney? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.