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22 Apr 2023


NextImg:DeSantis Threatens Putting Prison Next to Disney Park, Woke Giant Counters with Sick 'After Dark' Event

The House of Mouse is declaring all-out war on conservatives — and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading the counter-charge.

On Monday, as Disney announced its first after-dark “Pride Nite” for “celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community & allies” at its California flagship park with LGBT “themed entertainment,” DeSantis warned that the company’s self-governance over land in Florida was quickly coming to an end and half-joked that a state prison could be built next to the company’s vast holdings in the Sunshine State.

And while the crowd laughed audibly at DeSantis’ jab, the implicit threat was clear: DeSantis and the state’s GOP-dominated legislature have very real powers to make life difficult for a corporation that apparently considers itself above the law of the elected representatives of the people of Florida.

So, for those of you not up on the kerfuffle between DeSantis and Disney: Last year, after the entertainment giant began demonizing the Florida governor and other state Republicans for the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law — which barred public schools from indoctrinating those third-grade and under in issues involving gender ideology or sexual orientation — DeSantis announced he was going to revoke the brand’s effective self-governance over the jurisdiction where Disney World is located, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the New York Post notes.

This would mean that, as DeSantis noted in February, the company “no longer has its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else and pay its debts and fair share of taxes.”

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However, just as the five Disney-backed members of the board were about to be replaced by DeSantis-picked appointments, they voted to hand all power over the jurisdiction to Disney, effectively mooting what the new panel could do and handing full authority over land development to the corporation. DeSantis has promised the Republican-led state legislature will be doing something about that.

“You’re not going to have Disney have its own government in Central Florida,” he said at news conference Monday in Lake Buena Vista, a stone’s throw from the Disney World theme park. “You’re going to live under the same laws as everybody else.”

“Disney did special deals to circumvent that whole process,” he added.

“They controlled the board. It was basically a legal fiction where they negotiated with themselves to give themselves self-governing status. That’s in direct defiance of the will of the people of Florida.”

Furthermore, he noted that the state owns undeveloped land in the same area that it might, ahem, utilize.

“People have said maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks. Someone even said. ‘maybe you need another state prison,'” he said with a smile.

“Who knows?” he added. “The possibilities are endless. That is now going to be analyzed to see what would make the most sense.”

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And lo and behold, shortly after DeSantis’ announcment, here was a tweet from Disney, announcing the “After Dark: Pride Nite” event at Disneyland in California for June. It’s the company’s “first-ever,” the tweet declared.

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The event includes the “Rivers of America Dance Party” (“Feel the beat as the DJ keeps the party rockin’ along the water’s edge,” the website for the pride night boasts), the “Pride Cavalcade” (“Join in the fun as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends dressed in special attire dance along the parade route, working their way down to Main Street, U.S.A.!”) and “Fun Photo Ops” (“Say ‘Pride!’ as Disney PhotoPass photographers capture shots—and incredible memories—in front of Pride-themed backdrops, inspirational messages or with Disney Characters”).

Disney also encouraged attendees to “Dress with Pride.”

“Step out in style! Proudly display your true colors and be your unique and fabulous self,” the website notes, although there is a caveat for those who might want to be, um, too fabulous:

“Costumes are subject to Disney guidelines and should not be obstructive or offensive. While we encourage creativity, we also value safety and good judgment,” the website states. So, no Donald Duck in leather, I would guess.

Obviously, the company didn’t slap together this Disney-fied pride parade (for ages 3 and up, to boot) as an ad hoc response to DeSantis’ escalation of the culture war between the elected government of Florida and the unelected wokeistas at Disney.

However, the timing of how it was rolled out certainly gives the impression that the entertainment giant is willing to go tit-for-tat with the Sunshine State, no matter how well or poorly that might go over with the general public:

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Now, it is worth emphasizing that the “After Dark: Pride Nite” event is in Disneyland in California, not Disney World in Florida. However, it’s clear that new Disney CEO Bob Iger, despite initially signaling he wanted the company to steer clear of politics, is still willing to wade into the culture wars — even though he’s hinted at a possible rapprochement with DeSantis and Florida Republicans.

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“I do not view this as a going-to-mattresses situation for us,” Iger told Time magazine in an interview published last April 13.

“If the governor of Florida wants to meet with me to discuss all of this, of course, I would be glad to do that,” he added, saying he was the kind of guy “that typically has respected our elected officials and the responsibility that they have.”

At the very least, Iger is pushing a progressive agenda more quietly than his predecessor did. The “After Dark: Pride Nite” event isn’t in Florida and I don’t see California Gov. Gavin Newsom having too much of a problem with this going down in Anaheim.

That said, the timing of the announcement hardly seems coincidental. Disney won’t give up without a fight, half-hearted though it may be.

I say half-hearted because the company is the long-term poster-child for an object lesson in the “go woke, go broke” economic model. (Bud Light has replaced it in the short-term, but we’ll see if a fusillade of patriotic ads featuring a lot of CGI Clydesdales and American iconography can undo the whole Dylan Mulvaney mess.)

Sure, Disney may be able to maintain sole jurisdiction over Disney World, at least at present. But the Florida legislature will have something to say about that — a good deal to say about it, as DeSantis’ speech underscored — and the legal and political battle has doubtlessly cost Disney a great deal of money, not to mention customers.

In the meantime, two of the brand’s woker family films have under-performed at the box office. “Lightyear”, which included an entirely extraneous same-sex kiss, underwhelmed when it was released in June, only taking in $51 million in its first week against an estimate of $70-85 million. This was practically a blockbuster, however, when compared to “Strange World”, which was promoted as featuring the “first openly gay teen star” in a Disney animated movie.

According to Cartoon Brew, the film took in only $73.6 million at the box office in total against a budget so massive it ended up being a roughly $200 million loss for the company.

However, waving the white flag in the battle against DeSantis also doesn’t seem to be an option. Thus, we have the threat of a state prison next to Disney World vs. “Pride Nite.”

Good luck winning that one, Mickey.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.