Recent reports are coming out that The Walt Disney Company will be able to preserve its special district in Florida, as those familiar with the situation shared that lawmakers in Tallahassee were willing to work with The Mouse House to keep the Reedy Creek Improvement District alive and well.
Journalists on both sides are touting this as Florida’s “U-Turn,” but the preservation of Reedy Creek has always been on the table and an expected outcome from this battle. On top of that, the legal reason for Reedy Creek’s termination had nothing to do with the Parental Rights in Education Law and everything to do with pre-existing discrepancies that needed to be dealt with.
Florida’s state legislation that threatened the termination of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District was not a product of some blind political witch hunt. Rather, it was the result of a series of unfortunate coincidences for which Disney can only blame itself.
Here’s the timeline:
- Florida’s State Government planned to meet to discuss refreshing district lines.
- Florida legislatures pass the Parental Rights in Education Law.
- Disney came out against it, declaring that it would work to undo a policy passed by Florida’s residents.
- Florida lawmakers noticed that the Reedy Creek Improvement District was one of five special districts that never amended to align with the State Constitution.
- Florida lawmakers called for a special session to extend the pre-established redistricting discussion to deal with unconstitutional special districts in the state once and for all.
- Disney needed to fix its district and reapply by summer 2023.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District, in its current state, is out of step with Florida’s ratified constitution. And like its extended copyright protection on Mickey Mouse, its outdated status would have probably continued to thrive just fine if they did not decide to threaten real action against the will of a State whose residential majority is very “anti-woke” and “anti-California.” The legislation that put Disney on the clock was introduced in the Senate and passed 23-16 before passing in the House 70-38. In other words, the Mouse House got comfortable in a vulnerable position thanks to old relationships.
Back in April, Disney Fanatic reported that Amending Florida Statues Section 189.0311 regarding independent special districts and their charter requirements, SB 4-C states:
“…any independent special district established by a special act prior to the date of ratification of the Florida Constitution on November 5, 1968, and which was not reestablished, re-ratified, or otherwise reconstituted by a special act or general law after November 5, 1968, is dissolved effective June 1, 2023. … An independent special district affected by this subsection may be reestablished on or after June 1, 2023, pursuant to the requirements and limitations of this chapter.”
Not once did Governor Ron DeSantis or any other Florida official go on the record to say that the new Reedy Creek District would be rejected. Why would they? It would be a financial calamity. From the moment the legislation came to light, I shared with our readers that the Summer of 2023 will see a less autonomous Reedy Creek Improvement District under more state control.
The whole affair has been played up as a petty dispute over LGBTQ+ issues, but that alone would have been impossible and arguably illegal. If The Walt Disney Company had ensured that its Reedy Creek Improvement District was amended to fit the new constitution, then it is unlikely that Tallahassee would be able to find any serious grounds to terminate after Bob Chapek declared his dissent. But like getting a paper knocked down from a breezed-over A- to a carefully-reviewed C- after mouthing off to a teacher, Disney had to learn the hard way who is in charge in Florida, and that is the residents themselves backed by the leadership in the capital.
It was a rude awakening to the bosses in Burbank that no corporation will have an oligarch-size hold over the Sunshine State and how its people decide to live their lives.
Now, the current legislation states that the re-establishment process can begin after the termination period. The Financial Times reports that lawmakers are now drafting up a “compromise bill,” and this makes logical sense. It more than likely will just expedite the re-establishment process to a less-autonomous, constitutional special state district.
An amended Reedy Creek District will be a “win-win” situation. But make no mistake, that first win still belongs to Governor Ron DeSantis and the State of Florida.
We at Disney Fanatic will continue to update our readers on Disney news and stories as more developments come to light.
Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.