Everything You Need To Know About The Disney vs. DeSantis Feud & How It Could Affect You

Disney is too "woke" for Florida's government.

Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World. Right: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Florida Associate Editor

Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World. Right: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

There's an ongoing battle of territory happening right now between Walt Disney World and Florida's government, and this could mean big changes for those who live in the area as well as visitors.

Let's break down the topic that's been making headlines for the past couple of weeks.

In the 1960s, Walt Disney World wanted to build "the most magical place on earth" in a secluded area in Orange and Osceola counties that was far away from the resources and services, like power and waterlines, that would help it run as it does today.

So in 1967, Florida's government helped them create a special taxing district called the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

That meant Disney could govern itself as it turned "38.5 square miles of largely uninhabited pasture and swamp land into a global destination resort that welcomes millions of visitors every year," and essentially run as its own county.

Only the landowners within the district (primarily Walt Disney World) had to pay the taxes to fund the municipal utilities and services for the park, not those in the surrounding counties of Orange and Osceola.

In March 2022, the Florida Senate passed the "Don't Say Gay" bill that prevents schools from teaching students about sexual orientation and gender identity at certain grade levels.

After Disney drew criticism for having donated to Governor Ron DeSantis' political campaign (among many others), and following heavy pressure from many organizations and prominent members of Disney's talent, the company started to push back against the bill.

Cue the beginning of the feud.

DeSantis continues to call the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity "woke ideology," and he doubled down on his views in an interview with Fox News.

"Look, there's policy disputes, and that's fine. But when you're trying to impose a woke ideology on our state, we view that as a significant threat," DeSantis said.

"This wokeness will destroy this country if we let it run unabated."

In retaliation, the governor passed a bill this month that would eliminate all special districts that were created before 1968.

Yes, that's one year after Disney's district was formed, and based on the closeness of his response in the timeline, many are assuming that this was an intentional attack on Disney.

"If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy. As governor, I was elected to put the people of Florida first, and I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state," DeSantis wrote in a fundraising email.

This would go into effect at the start of June 2023.

While the details of what would happen are still unclear, tax experts and legislators say taxpayers in the surrounding counties will probably have to take on additional costs related to providing municipal services to the park, according to CNBC. Not only that, but the surrounding counties could have to take on the district's debt, which is estimated at over $1 billion.

Recently, Narcity posted an unrelated story about affordable hotels to book in Disney, and commenters used this Instagram post to share their thoughts on what's currently going on and how they feel about the situation.

Instagram users comment their thoughts on Disney and DeSantis' feud.Instagram users comment their thoughts on Disney and DeSantis' feud.@narcityusa | Instagram

One user thinks that Disney itself will have to raise their rates for their hotels, which makes a visit to Disney way more expensive than the prices listed now.

Other commenters on Instagram are saying they are canceling their trips altogether, presumably due to the current feud between the park and the government.

It can be safe to say that Disney will most likely fight this, and we'll be staying on top of the "woke" battle between the two powerhouses.

Jenna Kelley
Florida Associate Editor
Jenna Kelley was an Associate Editor for Narcity’s USA Desk focused on trends and celebrities in Florida and is based in Miami-Fort Lauderdale in Florida.