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Dear Disney – Please Don’t Let The Magic Sparkle Die

“I love Disney, but the more the company engages in politics, the more the magic sparkle fades,” writes Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis

The lawsuits are flying from the happiest place on Earth. I love Disney, but their claim that the legislature and the governor are limiting their freedom of speech seems like a stretch. I don’t see anyone telling them to be quiet. Even I have pleaded with their CEO, Bob Iger, to sit down with Governor DeSantis and come to a peaceful resolution on how they can keep growing in the Sunshine State. When have lawsuits ever helped a relationship?

The reality is that words – and actions – have consequences. When Disney decided they would publicly proclaim their intention to defeat every lawmaker who passed the Parental Rights bill in Florida, we heard them. And wouldn’t you know – when we took a closer look, Disney was benefiting from a special carve-out in laws that all other companies have to comply with – all the way down to being allowed to operate their own fire department (which my office works with). They were even inspecting the safety of their own rides. Why shouldn’t we be able to inspect them just like any other theme park ride in the state?

Seeing that these carve-outs for Disney resulted in an uneven playing field for other businesses in the state, the Legislature of Florida - duly elected representatives and senators – all took action to remove the carve-outs and make a fair set of regulations across all businesses. According to law, Disney is a city just like Tampa, Jacksonville or Destin, but they got to elect their own commissioners. That doesn’t make any sense.

The new legislation was more about creating predictability and fairness than any kind of “singled out” punishment, as some pundits and media outlets have alleged. If anything, Disney was singled out before the legislation because they had their own unique set of exclusions.

I love that Disney is a huge business in our state and I want them to continue to succeed here. I laughed when I saw the desperate tweet from former Governor Nikki Haley trying to get them to South Carolina... wouldn’t a Disney move there basically double the population of the state?

If I were Bob Iger, I would spend less time on politics and more time focused on creating high-quality content that is family friendly. That is what we all fell in love with! Just like in Cinderella – the pumpkin is only a carriage until the clock strikes midnight, and then it is a pumpkin again. I don’t want Disney to lose any of its MAGIC – but the more they tangle up in state and national politics, the more their sparkle fades.