Walt Disney World in Florida loses self-governing authority

After more than half a century, the self-governing authority of Walt Disney World in Florida has been stripped,


“Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“Allowing a corporation to control its own government is bad policy, especially when the corporation makes decisions that impact an entire region,” DeSantis continued. “This legislation ends Disney’s self-governing status, makes Disney live under the same laws as everybody else, and ensures that Disney pays its debts and fair share of taxes.”

The creation of the self-governing district was instrumental in Disney’s decision to build in Lake Buena Vista near Orlando in the 1960s.

The company had initially told the state that it planned to build a futuristic city that would include a transit system and urban planning innovations and therefore needed autonomy in building and deciding how to use the land. But the futuristic city was never built and the land was instead turned into a theme park that opened in 1982.

The push to remove the special Disney district materialized last year after the company publicly opposed the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay act,” which bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and lessons deemed not age-appropriate.

DeSantis moved to penalize Disney, directing lawmakers to dissolve the district during a special legislative session last April.

“It’s their goal to inject a lot of this sexuality into the programming for young kids,” said DeSantis. “I am a dad, six, four and two, and my wife and I, and I know parents throughout Florida, we want our kids to be kids, we want them to be able to enjoy entertainment, school without having an agenda imposed upon them.”

The new measure requires the state to appoint a five-member board to oversee the government services the district provides at all of Disney’s properties.

It also changes the district’s name from the Reedy Creek Improvement District to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

“These are decades of subsidies and benefits that have really accumulated to this one powerful company, and now we’re basically just on an even playing field,” said DeSantis.


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