The Governor of Florida declared that the state law that allows the Walt Disney World resort act as its own ‘county government’ should be reconsidered by the state’s lawmakers.
Without naming Disney explicitly, the declaration submitted by the Governor’s office to Florida legislators mentions “independent special districts… established prior to November 5, 1968” and notes that Florida’s constitution, revised in 1968, “prohibits special laws granting privileges to private corporations,” but that its earlier incarnation contained no such prohibition.
DeSantis’ declaration comes amid the governor’s escalating weeks-long feud with the Walt Disney Company, one of the state’s largest employers, over Disney’s vow to pressure Florida lawmakers and ‘work to repeal’ the Parental Rights in Education Act, which opponents criticize as anti-LGBTQ.
Pressure from employees, LGBTQ activists and liberal allies led Disney to reverse its initial aloofness and denounce the legislation. The company has since halted campaign donations to legislators behind the bill, saying it ‘never should have happened.’ This came on March 28 – the same day Governor DeSantis had signed the bill into law.
Reedy Creek Improvement District was developed by means of a private-public partnership launched in 1967 between the Walt Disney Company and the State of Florida.
The partnership conferred to Disney the same authority and responsibilities as a “county government” to develop the nearly 40-square-mile fiefdom of “largely uninhabited pasture and swamp land” ten miles or more from the nearest power and water lines, according to the district’s website.
In the following decades, Disney built and maintained 134 miles of roadways and 67 of waterways and achieved a 6–8-minute response time for fire and emergency medical services. It logs 250,000 ‘daily guests’ and ‘2,000 vendors, suppliers and contractors used to provide high-quality services for visitors.’
On March 30, DeSantis delivered a scathing rebuke to the Disney leadership, who ‘don’t run this state’ and vowed that they ‘will never run this state as long as I’m governor.’
On the same day, Florida lawmaker and DeSantis ally Spencer Roach tweeted that Florida legislators had already met at least twice to discuss the prospect of dismantling the district that lets Disney ‘act as its own government.’
‘If Disney wants to embrace woke ideology, it seems fitting they should be regulated by Orange County,’ he said.