Disney v. DeSantis

The Cinderella Castle that guests walk through upon their entrance to the park.


The Cinderella Castle that guests walk through upon their entrance to the park.

Sophia Cooper, Staff Writer

   In recent weeks the debates in Florida over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay bill have been heating up. Disney spoke up against the bill, now Florida has retaliated by taking away Disney’s special tax status and self-governing status through a bill passed by DeSantis and the state legislature. 

   On April 20, DeSantis passed a bill in the Florida legislature as retaliation for Disney’s comments regarding the Don’t Say Gay bill. Essentially, the bill dissolves any special district created before 1968 that has not been ratified again since the them park’s creation. This applies to Reedy Creek, the district where Walt Disney World is located and five other special districts. Having been located in a special district, Disney was able to “self-govern” itself. Reedy Creek was established in 1967, one year before the deadline for dissolvement. The special district has very similar powers to those of county governments including construction, traffic, police, building codes and other special powers. Walt Disney World officially opened within Reedy creek in 1971 after all of the rides and buildings were built and the park was fully operational. 

   The bill was passed three days after it was introduced into Florida legislation. Disney has had a discussion with Sen. Linda Stewart (D- Orlando). Disney officials raised their concerns with the Sen. Stewart and were not sure whether the bill was legal to begin with. According to Forbes, the majority of the district’s landowners must vote in favor of it. The bill will go into effect on July 1, 2023. It is assumed by many that Disney will take the issue to court. 

   It is unknown what effect the dissolution of Reedy Creek will have. Florida’s taxes may rise by approximately 25% when the district is dissolved. In addition, it may be more difficult to create and build new rides because Disney, before any construction, will be required to clear the project with Florida. Florida will now be responsible for the trash pickup, clearing of snow, and many other tasks that Disney was liable for when the special district was in place, draining a lot of money from the state. 

   Disney’s Florida location opened at full capacity on Oct. 1, 1971 and since then has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, employing about 80,000 people. In theory, this could affect Florida’s tourism industry and local business owners who cater to tourists in addition to Disney, which hurts not just Florida but the local economy as well.