Kotaku has contacted the Office of Governor Ron Desantis and Disney for further comment.

A storefront shows a giant Disney logo with Mickey Mouse.
Photo: Adam McCullough (Shutterstock)

The DeSantis-Disney Feud

In early 2022, Disney and governor DeSantis publically clashed over Disney CEO Bob Chapek’s critique of another controversial bill: HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education. Referred to by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, it targets “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels.” But aside from sweeping control over topics discussed in classrooms, the bill also contains enforcement mandates.


The bill, signed into law last year, requires schools to notify parents of “critical decisions affecting student’s mental emotional, or physical well-being” and “healthcare services” under the desire to “reinforce [the] fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbring [and] control of their children.” Critics have argued that this bill will lead to closeted and vulnerable queer youth being outed to parents. Chapek echoed criticism that “the legislation [...] could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary, and transgender kids and families.” Critics have observed that this gesture doesn’t match the company’s support of Republican politicians.

Following the signing of HB 1557, and public pressure over the company’s six-figure contribution to Republican members of Florida’s legislature and notable silence leading up to the signing of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the Walt Disney Company issued a statement calling for a repeal of the bill.


In response to Chapek’s public statements and Disney’s tweet, governor DeSantis said that the company “crossed the line.” He added: We’re going to make sure we’re fighting back,” characterizing Disney’s opposition to the law, and broader inclusivity measures as “threatening our parents and threatening our kids.” DeSantis has described conversations and education about LGBTQ issues and Black history in America as “Woke indoctrination.”


The Reedy Creek Improvement District is expected to be renamed to the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District” on June 1 of this year. Disney will now be subject to greater scrutiny and control over its operations in Walt Disney World, and reportedly has no plans to fight back against the bill.

Given DeSantis’ statements over LGBTQ issues and topics such as critical race theory, his personal selection of a new board of overseers is particularly concerning. Ron DeSantis is also reported to have his sights set on 2024, as he is expected to announce a run for president where he is likely to raise these issues on a national level.