Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis voiced support for removing Disney World’s 55-year-old special status, which permits the entertainment giant to operate as an autonomous government around its Orlando theme park. It’s the latest development in DeSantis’ dispute with Disney, Florida’s largest private company, over a bill that prohibits schools from teaching young children about sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Disney has alienated a lot of people now,” DeSantis said. “And so the political influence they’re used to wielding, I think has dissipated. And so the question is, why would you want to have special privileges in the law at all? And I don’t think that we should.”
Disney has expressed its interest in repealing the law, stating that they are committed to change.
“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.” said Disney after DeSantis signed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill on March 28, 2022.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was founded in 1967, allows Disney World to function as its own government; the park manages its own land use, buildings, and roadways, and virtually provides all of the services that a municipal or county government would. Disney World would be subject to county regulations if this act were repealed.
David Grimes, a Tallahassee resident and theme park enthusiast says the governor wants to punish Disney because the company does not support the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“Disney World attracts millions of visitors a year from all over the world. Half of the visitors are children who dream about coming to this historic park,” Grimes said. “If DeSantis vacates Disney’s right to self-rule, I think it will hurt Disney in the long run. Disney would have to rely on outside companies to pave the roads in the park, get permits approved from the local government to build attractions, and to pick up trash. That would lead to asking residents to pay more taxes. Take a minute to analyze this situation to understand what’s really going on and who has the agenda.”