Ron DeSantis says there is a ‘desire to move forward’ with Disney

Gov. Ron DeSantis is now blaming his long fight with The Walt Disney Co. on its California corporate headquarters, and said he knew Walt Disney World was not the force behind it.

“Some of that stuff was really driven by Burbank. It was not driven by Orlando, and I think we’ve always understood that,” DeSantis said at an Orlando press conference.

DeSantis’ remarks came shortly after Disney and the state-controlled Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board reached a settlement, ending litigation in state court.

“I think there’s a desire to move forward,” DeSantis said. “They probably have opportunities to do, to expand their footprint, to continue to attract visitors. And those things, when they coincide with the state’s interest, we think that’d be good.”

DeSantis’ feud with Disney began in 2022 when the entertainment company spoke out against Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education legislation banning classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity in schools.

Afterward, lawmakers punished Disney by passing legislation to give DeSantis the power to pick appointees on Disney World’s governing board and allow state inspectors onto the monorail.

Before Disney lost control of its governing board, the company approved last-minute agreements with its old board to limit the incoming state appointees’ control.

The board countersued Disney — but that litigation ended Wednesday in state court.

Disney’s federal free speech lawsuit against DeSantis and the tourism board was dismissed by a Judge, although the company is appealing.

DeSantis used Wednesday as an opportunity to flex on the legal victories.

“I would just point out a year ago, people were trying to act like that all these legal maneuverings were all going to succeed against the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “The reality is, here we are a year later, and not one of them has succeeded.”

DeSantis also brought up Disney’s competitor Universal which is building a new theme park, Epic Universe, to open in 2025.

“I got to think that Disney would want to answer that, to be able to kind of keep up with the competition,” DeSantis said. “That’s a good thing for Florida to have businesses competing against each other to offer more and more attractions for the tourists.”

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