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Ron DeSantis vs. Disney: A Mistake Donald Trump Will Use Against Him?

As Ron DeSantis moves from governor to presidential candidate, he will have bigger issues to deal with. He must pivot away from Disney.

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at a "Unite & Win Rally" at Arizona Financial Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. Image by Gage Skidmore.
Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at a "Unite & Win Rally" at Arizona Financial Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. By Gage Skidmore.

Rarely has a potential presidential candidate received as much attention before announcing an official bid for a primary nomination as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Conservative-minded Americans have been asked if they prefer Trump or DeSantis for the past six months, with Trump coming out on top in most recent surveys. The newest polling from the past weekend shows Trump leading DeSantis with anywhere between a 15-to-34-point margin. 

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Entrance.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Entrance. Image taken on April 20, 2023 by

The media has been buzzing about DeSantis ever since his contrarian policies during COVID. Yet the presidential hopeful has cycled through hype and fizzle phases before a formal announcement has even been made. While a declaration is expected shortly after Florida finishes its legislative session early next month, many in the press already claim DeSantis has lost his sparkle. Jesse Waters of Fox News claimed he “was taking a bruising” from former president and leading Republican nominee Donald Trump

Likely feeling sufficiently threatened by DeSantis, Trump seems to have recognized he needs to move beyond his typical tactics of name-calling and character assaults to attacking DeSantis’s policies. The man who once heralded DeSantis as “brilliant young leader” and “a TRUE FIGHTER” now calls DeSantis disloyal and an establishment RINO

Ron DeSantis and Disney: A War Just Getting Started? 

Trump also asserts “DeSanctus is being destroyed by Disney” in a recent Truth Social post. He claims the governor’s PR plan against the entertainment giant has failed. So now, “he’s going back with a new one in order to save face.” 

DeSantis originally planned to tighten control over Disney by installing a hand-picked board of directors to oversee the Reedy Creek Improvement District (now the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District), which essentially allows the company to operate as a type of local government governing itself. It afforded Disney special privileges and shielded the company from typical local government regulations and property taxes, worth as much as $200 million per year, by some estimates. 

However, in a surprising counter punch, the new board discovered a last-minute deal between Disney and outgoing board members that employed what’s known as a “royal clause.” Such a provision is usually used when it comes to trusts. It provides a buffer against perpetuities, essentially letting attorneys establish a window of time that would legally never expire. DeSantis then announced new legislation that would override Disney’s efforts to circumvent state authority. 

The clash came as a result of Disney’s opposition to DeSantis’s “Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act” also known by the progressive left as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation bans classroom instruction on sexuality and gender ideology in kindergarten through third grade and requires that sex instruction in other grades be age appropriate. For the past year, DeSantis has been rallying against corporations that use their power to push “woke” agendas, particularly when it comes to LGBTQIA+ activism.  

As an increasing number of corporations like Disney seem intent on pursuing and promoting such policies to further their ESG rankings, it’s important that DeSantis demonstrates he can take on big businesses that are not only invested in pushing political agendas unrelated to their bottom line, but those that punish consumers who don’t agree with their agendas. Remember when PayPal denied services to customers who promoted ‘misinformation’? However, as the recent Bud Light debacle made apparent, some cultural battles may best be fought in the free market. 

Walt Disney World Boardwalk Hotel

Walt Disney World Boardwalk Hotel. Image by

Many Republicans, like Trump, see an opening to attack the conservative contender claiming DeSantis is engaging in political stunts. What else is new? In an increasingly bitter political divide, presidential races have devolved into little else. No one, particularly Trump, is immune from such tactics.   

There is legitimate concern that DeSantis’s refusal to let go of the Disney bone may push one of Florida’s biggest economic draws out of the state. The entertainment behemoth is the state’s largest private employer and corporate taxpayer. At a press conference last week, Ron DeSantis more than hinted at potential retaliatory measures such as building another amusement park, a state park, or even a prison near Disney World. Some view such punitory rhetoric against corporations as notoriously liberal and anti-Republican.

However, there is a growing number of conservatives that decry establishment Republicans’ defense of big business that operate unfettered under government protections despite potential violations of the public good. In DeSantis’s case, that good is morality and unfair economic advantage. Disney is in DeSantis’s backyard and the magic kingdom has relied on more than merely mouse appeal to build its vast empire, which makes it fair game for the governor. 

Reedy Creek

Reedy Creek Sign. Image Taken April 2023 by

While the culture war is one that needs to be waged, once DeSantis moves from governor to potential presidential candidate, he will have to tackle important foreign policy issues and strengthen the country’s increasingly weak posture on the global battlefield. That will mean turning his attention away from the mouse in the house to the elephant in the room. 

Jennifer Galardi has been a leading voice in the health and wellness industry and will be graduating in April with a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University. She has been published in the Epoch Times and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy, and anything she finds interesting. 

Written By

Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor for She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.