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Could Disney World really move out of Florida? Experts weigh in

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ‘War on Woke’ has him locking horns with Disney. Since the spat began, the company has got offers to move. Will it take them seriously?

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ‘War on Woke’ has him locking horns with Disney. Since the spat began, the company has got offers to move. Will it take them seriously?

While he isn’t yet an official candidate in the 2024 presidential race, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is trying to boost his bonafides to be the Republican Party standard bearer with his ‘War on Woke.’ However, that has drawn him into conflict with the Sunshine State’s biggest employer, Disney.

The escalation now has the governor threatening Disney with legal action through the courts and/or legislation to curtail the decades-long special privileges the company enjoys in the state. As well as possibly making the access roads to the park toll roads, setting up an alternative theme park and even building a jail nearby as the company has outmaneuvered the governor.

The feud has sparked a couple politicians to make innuendos to Disney that it should pick up and leave Florida for a friendlier environment in their state. However, despite the current hostile situation in Florida, Disney World is not going anywhere according to an expert on the entertainment giant.

Disney’s opposition to Florida legislation draws ire of DeSantis

The conflict arose when the Magical Kingdom opposed the Republican-controlled state’s legislation dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.” The bill restricts what teachers can talk with their students about, specifically the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. In retaliation, the governor tried to revoke Disney World’s designation as a special tax district saying: “I will not allow a woke corporation based in California to run our state.”

However, that didn’t pan out once lawmakers realized the financial consequences that would befall the two counties surrounding Disney’s self-governed 25,000-acre resort. So, they settled with stripping Disney of the ability to appoint the five members of the tax district’s board, who the governor can now hand pick. One of them told NPR that they would conduct a sweeping financial and legal audit into Disney’s behavior.

But as anyone knows, don’t pick a fight with Disney, well at least not its lawyers. While DeSantis was declaring victory, he wasn’t paying attention to what was happening in plain sight. The former Reedy Creek Development board, that oversees the tax district, voted to strip the board of power and give it back to Disney. That situation would remain in perpetuity “until twenty one (21) years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III.”

After that humiliation, DeSantis threatened to build a prison on land adjacent to the four local theme parks among other potential possibilities. “I think the possibilities are endless,” said the governor during a press conference. The latest salvo by Disney is a lawsuit against DeSantis claiming “a relentless campaign to weaponise government power against Disney.”

Could Disney World move out of Florida?

North Carolina State Sen. Michael Garrett introduced a bill in his state called the “Mickey’s Freedom Restoration Act,” which would give Disney a place to move its theme parks. 2024 GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley offered Disney to relocate in her home state of South Carolina, where she was governor from 2011 to 2017. “We’ve got great weather, great people, and it’s always a great day in South Carolina! SC’s not woke, but we’re not sanctimonious about it either,” she posted on Twitter.

While Disney could pick up and move some of its businesses from Orlando to another state, Disney World and its other theme parks aren’t going anywhere. Moving all the infrastructure, including hotels, restaurants and shops as well as transportation to move guests around, just wouldn’t be feasible.

Richard Foglesong, an expert on Disney told Business Insider that, “they’re stuck there, and Florida is stuck with them.” Besides the immense cost of relocating on top of the billions it would need to spend on keeping its Florida operations up to date in the meantime, Disney would never be able to get the special privileges that it locked in with Florida in the 1960s.


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