Florida Legislature Votes to Strip Disney of Self-Governing Powers as Democrats Shriek in Protest


The Florida House of Representatives on Thursday gave final passage to a bill that would dissolve Walt Disney World’s private government, handing Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis a victory in his feud with the entertainment giant over its opposition to the state’s Parental Rights in Education law.

The move could have huge tax implications for the Walt Disney Co., whose series of theme parks have transformed Orlando into one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

For DeSantis, his refusal to back down to the megacorporation’s demands on sex and gender education, along with his boldness in defiance of COVID-19 lockdowns and other left-wing agenda items, has made him one of the most popular GOP politicians in the country and a strong 2024 presidential candidate.

The bill passed Thursday would eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the Disney government is known, as well as a handful of other similar districts by June 2023.

The measure does allow for the districts to be re-established, leaving an avenue to renegotiate its future.

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It now moves to DeSantis’ office to be signed into law.

Democratic legislators yelled in protest as the bill was approved, with one observer describing the outbursts as “a literal temper tantrum.”

The Florida GOP’s dispute with Disney began with the company’s vocal criticism of a new law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as well as instruction that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

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The company and other critics disingenuously labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. That word does not appear in the legislation.

In March, Disney said the parental rights bill “should never have been passed and should never have been signed into law.”

“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts,” the company said, declaring that it was “dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family.”

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DeSantis has remained defiant in support of the parental rights law, which polls show has strong support, even among Democrats.

“Disney and other woke corporations won’t get away with peddling their unchecked pressure campaigns any longer,” the governor wrote in a fundraising pitch Wednesday. “If we want to keep the Democrat machine and their corporate lapdogs accountable, we have to stand together now.”

Democratic politicians have criticized the Reedy Creek legislation as retaliation against the company.

Disney is one of Florida’s biggest private employers, last year saying it had more than 60,000 workers in the state.

It is not immediately clear how the company or local governments around its properties would be affected if the district was dissolved.

The creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and the control it gave Disney over 27,000 acres in Florida, was a crucial element in the company’s plans to build near Orlando in the 1960s. Company officials said they needed autonomy to plan a futuristic city along with the theme park. The city never materialized, however; instead, it morphed into the Epcot theme park.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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