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Ron DeSantis’ War on Disney Goes ‘Nuclear’

For the last several months, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney have been gunning for each other. Now things could get worse.

Ron DeSantis. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Governor Ron DeSantis speaking with attendees at the 2021 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Photo by Gage Skidmore .

Disney says “Gay,” will go ahead with Pride celebrations amid DeSantis fight: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, ahead of his expected run for president, has declared war against Disney, the best-known corporation in his state, in a dispute that started over their objection to DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” law. But Disney isn’t shying away from celebrating Pride month. 

Ron DeSantis vs. Disney: The Latest

For the last several months, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney have been gunning for each other. 

Last spring the company, after first taking a neutral position, came out against DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” proposal. Officially called the Parental Rights in Education law, the bill restricted what can be taught in schools about sexuality. 

DeSantis went on to retaliate against Disney, seeking to appoint a new board to replace the board of the Reedy Creek Entertainment District, which has long governed the area around Walt Disney World in a special manner. However, Disney soon outfoxed DeSantis, reaching a deal at the last moment with the previous board to block DeSantis’ plans. 

The governor, in turn, has sought to use Florida’s legislature to overturn the Disney deal. Per Politico, he has also threatened to “subject the company theme parks to new inspections of its rides and famed monorail in the final three weeks of its annual session.” He also threatened to turn land near Disney World into either a prison or a rival theme park. 

“They are not superior to the laws that are enacted by the people of the state of Florida,”  DeSantis said at a press conference held near Disney World. “That’s not going to work, that’s not going to fly.” 

Meanwhile, as reported by Vox, Disney is undeterred in going ahead with its planned Pride celebrations this summer. 

Disney tweeted this week about those plans for a special “Pride Nite,” over a picture of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and the other iconic Disney characters. The planned event is at Disneyland in California, and there’s no word on whether anything similar is planned at Disney World in Florida. 

“The first-ever Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite is coming to @Disneyland during Pride Month in June!,” a tweet this week from Disney’s main account said. “This separately ticketed event celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community & allies will have themed entertainment, Disney characters, specialty menu items & more.”

There have been events called “Gay Days,” in which LGBTQ people attend Walt Disney World and Disneyland on a specific day, and that goes back to the early 1990s. However, those events were not officially sanctioned by Disney. Nevertheless, Disney’s refusal to block such celebrations led it to be boycotted by the Southern Baptist Convention in the late 1990s, many years before the current dispute. 

”When Disney crosses to the other side of the street, there’s a sense of betrayal and outrage,” Richard Land, then president of the Southern Baptist morals and ethics panel, said in 1997, per the New York Times. “You can’t walk the family side of the street and the gay side of the street in the Magic Kingdom at the same time.”

Donald Trump Has Thoughts 

Meanwhile, DeSantis’ possible future opponent, Donald Trump, has been ripping him for how he has handled the fight with Disney. 

“DeSanctus is being absolutely destroyed by Disney. His original P.R. plan fizzled, so now he’s going back with a new one in order to save face,” the ex-president said on Truth Social Tuesday. “Disney’s next move will be the announcement that no more money will be invested in Florida because of the Governor – In fact, they could even announce a slow withdrawal or sale of certain properties, or the whole thing. Watch! That would be a killer. In the meantime, this is all so unnecessary, a political STUNT! Ron should work on the squatter MESS!”

Also this week, DeSantis jumped into the boycott of Bud Light, nearly two weeks after the campaign against the beer brand began. The governor said in an interview that he personally prefers to drink Guinness Stout. He also released a wildly mean-spirited video taking aim at trans athletes. 

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Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.