During the company's annual shareholder meeting on Monday, Iger told investors while addressing the company's dispute with Florida that Disney has more than 75,000 employees in the state, and plans to continue to add 13,000 new positions through more than $75 billion in investments at Walt Disney World. He also noted that Disney brings around 50 million visitors to Florida each year and is the state's largest taxpayer.
But how did this all begin?
Just over a year ago, Florida removed Disney's special tax status in the state after the entertainment giant issued a statement calling for the repeal of the HB 1557, dubbed the "Don't Say Gay," law, which bans early education teachers from talking to students about gender identity and sexuality.
"While the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do," Iger said on Monday.
DeSantis took further actions earlier this year by appointing a new board to oversee the Reedy Creek district, now named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which is the special land entity previously granted to Disney that gave the company government-like control over the land its Walt Disney World parks resided.
However, weeks before the new board members were set to begin their tenure, it was revealed that the previous board had signed a long-lasting agreement that effectively limits governmental control over Disney and the land it operates on.
Where are we now?
Florida than took the dispute further on Monday, asking the state's inspector general to determine whether Disney's move to retain control over the district is legal, and to investigate if the company's executives were involved in the agreement.
"The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he's decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me," Iger told investors.
"Our point on this is that any action that supports those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida," Iger added. "And I'll just leave it at that."
Until this recent feud, no major public discussions nor actions have been taken to limit Disney's control over the established special district, which the company has had jurisdiction over for more than 50 years.
DeSantis is expected to run for president in 2024, and has leveraged his efforts against Disney and other corporations he deems to be "woke" as a key part of his campaign.