The Florida Senate passed a bill Wednesday suspending Disney World’s government-like control over its properties in the state, leveling up tension that’s arisen with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and GOP state lawmakers with Disney over the Sunshine State’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.
The feud continues: Disney transformed the Orlando area starting in the 1960s through its massive investments in Walt Disney World and, later, Epcot Center. The company employs some 60,000 in Florida and oversees many duties on its 27,000 acres in the area that would typically fall to government entities, like zoning, fire protection, utilities and infrastructure, according to the Associated Press.
The proposal to end Disney’s authority in these areas still needs to get approval from the Florida House before making its way to DeSantis’ desk.
Per AP, the measures, pushed by DeSantis, come as the governor battles with Disney after the company’s criticism of a new GOP law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as well as instruction that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
In a campaign fundraising email sent Wednesday, DeSantis showed no signs of backing off his hardline stance on Disney’s reaction to the state’s new limits on educational instruction for younger students.
“If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy,” DeSantis wrote in the email. “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.”
Where it all started: After initially declining to weigh in, Disney CEO Bob Chapek publicly criticized Florida lawmakers for passing the Parental Rights in Education bill, which opponents called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, last month and apologized to the company’s LGBTQ employees for not being a stronger advocate, per CNN.
Chapek announced that the company would stop making political donations in Florida after decades of contributing generously, mostly to Republicans, including a $50,000 donation to DeSantis’ reelection effort.
CNN reported that DeSantis ripped Disney as a “woke corporation” and criticized its business in China. After DeSantis signed the bill, Disney wrote in a statement that its “goal” was to get the law repealed or see it defeated in the courts.
Attempted mayhem at the Magical Kingdom: Salon reports that at least 100 right-wing protesters assembled just outside of Disney World in Orlando on Saturday in protest of the company’s position on the Parental Rights in Education bill, holding up banners and flags in support of expanding “parents’ rights” in education.
Calling themselves the “Patriot Convoy,” dozens of conservative protesters unsuccessfully attempted a car “blockade,” which proved to be more of a minor inconvenience than the major headache organizers were likely hoping to cause, per Salon. Such protests were outlawed by Florida Republicans in reaction to the anti-police brutality protests of 2020, although a federal judge has since ruled the ban unconstitutional.