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Disney holds first ever Pride Night as DeSantis threatens company

The governor threatened to sell the land surrounding Disney World to rival theme parks

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 18 April 2023 16:50 BST
Related video: Moment Protesters Run On Stage During Ron Desantis Speech

Disney announced it will hold its first ever "Pride Nite" event, a move that will no doubt drive a further wedge between the entertainment titan and Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis.

Hours before the announcement, Mr DeSantis held a press conference where he laid out a menu of potential retaliatory schemes he could undertake to get back at Disney for using an obscure property law to retain its self-governance.

Those plots included raising the park's taxes, building a prison next door, or selling the land surrounding Disney to another theme park. The governor also highlighted proposed legislation that would impose new inspection regulations on Disney.

Disney's pride event will be an after-hours celebration and will require a separate ticket to attend.

“The first-ever Disneyland After Dark: Pride Nite is coming to @Disneyland during Pride Month in June! This separately ticketed event celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community & allies will have themed entertainment, Disney characters, specialty menu items & more,” Disney announced in a Twitter post featuring its iconic characters in rainbow-themed costumes.

The company and Mr DeSantis began clashing publicly when Disney objected to the Republican's "Don't Say Gay" legislation. That frustrated Mr DeSantis and set Disney in his crosshairs. Mr DeSantis justified the targeted legislation by saying he simply wants to "make sure Disney lives under the same laws as everyone else."

Conservatives typically support limiting government intrusion into the marketplace, a fact former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pointed out while criticising Mr DeSantis over his heavy-handed legislating.

"I don't think Ron DeSantis is a conservative based on his actions towards Disney," Mr Christie said in an interview with Semafor Principals.

He expressed concern that government retaliation against its critics — in the way Mr DeSantis is targeting Disney — would be normalised by the governor's actions.

“Where are we headed here now, that if you express disagreement in this country, the government is allowed to punish you? To me, that’s what I always thought liberals did," he said. "And now all of a sudden here we are participating in this with a Republican governor.”

He also took a shot at Mr DeSantis's expected presidential run in 2024, saying if the governor couldn't foresee Disney's power play then "that’s not the guy I want sitting across from President Xi [Jinping] and negotiating our next agreement with China.”

Mr DeSantis wasn't the only notable conservative handwringing over Disney and the LGBT community this week. Podcaster Ben Shapiro also had a meltdown on his show, predicting the company's total demise should they make a beloved princess a lesbian.

"The great suspicion is that in Frozen 4, they'll make Elsa a lesbian," Mr Shapiro, an adult, said on his show. "If they do that, it is the end of Disney as a company. Predict it. You can write it down. It is April 17th. If they do that in Frozen 4, it will destroy Disney."

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