Florida governor signs law revoking Disney’s special status
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday signed legislation that repeals a law that for decades has allowed entertainment giant Disney to act as local government in Orlando, where its theme park is located.
The move was the latest installment in a dispute between the Republican DeSantis administration and Disney, after the company criticized the passage in March of a law banning school classes on sexual orientation.
There was no immediate response from Disney to the decision, which is part of a cultural battle waged by Republican leaders across the United States.
Disney was initially silent on the law. But widespread criticism of the company, which employs more than 75,000 people in Florida, after it failed to speak out publicly, ultimately prompted Disney CEO Bob Chapek to condemn and suspend donations to state politicians.
The remarks upset DeSantis and prompted swift approval for the removal of Disney’s special status, which will take effect in June 2023.
“You are a corporation based in Burbank, Calif., and you are going to harness your economic power to attack parents in my state,” DeSantis said, according to NBC’s information.
“We see this as a provocation and we will fight against it,” he said.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was an area created by the Florida Congress in 1967 to facilitate the construction of Disney World in Orlando.
The area is approximately 38 square miles (100 square kilometers) and includes two cities and land in Orange and Osceola counties in central Florida.
Under the deal, Disney runs the neighborhood as if the entertainment juggernaut were a local government, including collecting taxes and guaranteeing essential public services like garbage collection and water treatment.
The decision to scrap the special ward has raised doubts about the future of the ground.
Under Florida law, if the special district is dissolved, its assets and debts would be transferred to the local governments that surround the area.
“Removing the district could transfer $2 billion of Disney debt to taxpayers,” Democratic Senator Linda Stewart warned Wednesday.