Disney and DeSantis have been hand in hand recently in media coverage of the Florida theme park giant.
In what was seen as an act of political retaliation, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis successfully passed legislation dissolving Walt Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, which has allowed them to operate municipal services since 1967 privately.
Now, though, it seems Disney is winning in national popularity in a recent poll from NBC.
Since 1967, the Walt Disney World Resort and its four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) have resided in Florida unregulated. Local taxpayers – residents of Orange County and Osceola County – do not have to pay for building or maintaining Disney’s essential services.
Republicans introduced a bill to repeal Reedy Creek after Disney publicly opposed Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill. Disney CEO Bob Chapek initially shied away from making a public statement regarding Florida’s new bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which restricts conversations about gender and LGBTQ+ identities in schools. Disney’s statement against the bill caused a feud with Ron DeSantis, who set about dissolving Walt Disney World’s special bubble in Florida.
The bill proved controversial, with taxpayers of the counties surrounding Walt Disney World filing a complaint in Florida federal court back on May 3. The taxpayers claim that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis violated their rights, arguing that they will be stuck with at least a $1 billion bill if the state follows through with its plan to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Republicans across the country have rallied in support of Governor DeSantis. Republican Senator Josh Hawley introduced a bill that would strip The Walt Disney Company of copyright protections, including one that keeps Mickey Mouse out of the public domain.
United States Representative Troy Nehls wrote letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, asking them to revoke the “No-Fly Zone” privilege that Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort enjoy.
Despite Republican support in Florida, it appears that Governor DeSantis has lost the popularity battle with The Walt Disney Company nationally. In a new NBC News poll performed by Hart Research Associates and Public Opinion Strategies, respondents ranked their opinion of Disney three points higher than that of Ron DeSantis.
The survey asked 1,000 adults various questions, including measuring the popularity of Disney and Governor DeSantis. In overall popularity, Disney outperformed the Florida Governor with 33%, while DeSantis received a 28%.
While only 7% of respondents felt neutral about Disney, 31% of respondents reported complete neutrality towards Governor DeSantis. 20% of all respondents said they saw DeSantis in a very positive way. The same number saw him in a very negative way. Disney saw the same polarization, but with 15% at each extreme. The NBC News poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.19%.
The war between Disney and DeSantis comes as the Walt Disney Company is handling its post-pandemic recovery, as well as the growth of its Disney+ streaming service. In an earnings call last week, Disney revealed that it earned $470 million, or 26 cents per share, in the three months ended April 2. That’s down from $901 million, or 49 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Adjusted for one-time items, Disney earned $1.08 per share in the latest quarter. Disney’s revenue grew 23% to $19.25 billion from $15.61 billion.
We’ll keep you updated on the ongoing political fallout in Florida