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The Magic Kingdom in Turmoil: Disney’s Ongoing Struggle with Florida Politics Gains Traction

The saga continues in Florida, where Disney and Governor Ron DeSantis are locked in a high-profile tussle.

The flashpoint? Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act, enacted in March 2022, is often referred to by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The act puts restrictions on public school teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.

Disney, home to a substantial LGBTQ+ workforce, publicly expressed disagreement with the legislation, citing it as discriminatory. This disagreement set the stage for a heated legal battle and a media storm, with sharp-edged comments volleyed from both sides.

Governor DeSantis, seizing a political opportunity, fortified his stand against what he terms “woke” policies.

Rising Political Heat: Disney in the Crosshairs DeSantis’ stance has found its way into his campaign as a cornerstone issue in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, potentially setting the stage for an extended conflict.

While Disney presumably has little interest in the limelight of a political debate that could risk alienating a broad base of potential consumers, it appears to be increasingly drawn into one.

“If you have a blue brand or red brand, regardless, you have less of a brand,” John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, was quoted as saying in the New York Times.

The GOP primary campaign season doesn’t conclude until July 24, leaving Disney in a precarious position for a considerable duration. Disney, a company that has for a century diligently steered clear of political and cultural controversies to protect its “happily-ever-after” brand, now risks being dragged through the campaign mud.

DeSantis Amplifies the Dispute Through Campaign Adverts In a strategic move, DeSantis’ presidential campaign, supported by a PAC named Never Back Down, released an advertisement to capitalize on the controversy.

The advert narrative subtly slams Disney, claiming, “Once upon a time, Disney films were for kids, not secret sexual content.” DeSantis is then positioned as a moral crusader appealing to a particular voter segment.

“We stand for the protection of our children,” he’s quoted as saying in the advert. “We will fight those who seek to rob them of their innocence. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob.”

Disney, however, has signaled that it won’t be a passive participant in this political spectacle. The company scrapped plans to invest $1 billion in a new headquarters near Disney World, a move that would have created 2,000 high-paying jobs in Florida – a decision likely to give ammunition to DeSantis’ political adversaries.

Disney CEO Bob Iger has also hinted at the possibility of revising the company’s $17 billion investment plans for Florida in the coming decade, showcasing Disney’s resistance to being used as a political football.