On April 19, the news broke that Governor Ron DeSantis would extend the special session of Florida’s state congress to discuss terminating all special districts created before 1968, which most notably includes Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). This is just the latest update in what is being constructed narratively as an all-out feud between DeSantis’ Republican-majority government and the “far-left” leaning Walt Disney Company that appears to have been started with the Parental Rights in Education legislation and the false narrative surrounding it.
But from this reporter’s perspective, this is nothing but a game of chicken that will end with “The Battle of Reedy Creek Improvement District” going to Disney, but with this glorified culture war being won by the men and women of The Sunshine State.
Here’s the deal: The RCID is better for Central Florida. According to the District’s charter, Disney is responsible for financially supporting everything needed to legitimize the district like the fire department. And Disney still pays taxes to Orange and Osceola Counties on top of it. Yes, Disney World does not have to jump through as many hoops as competitors like Universal Orlando Resort, but it still costs a lot of money to run the Mega Resort that would otherwise fall on the everyday taxpayers. What has Disney gotten for paying that price? Mostly space and less red tape.
It should be noted that DeSantis is not leading this charge. It is other members of the State government like State Representative Randy Fine who are putting forward the eliminating legislation, and DeSantis is simply allowing the Congressmen and women to state their case.
BREAKING: Disney is a guest in Florida. Today, we remind them. @GovDeSantis just expanded the Special Session so I could file HB3C which eliminates Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 50 yr-old special statute that makes Disney to exempt from laws faced by regular Floridians.
— Rep. Randy Fine (@VoteRandyFine) April 19, 2022
But Florida’s governor wants to hit Disney where it hurts the most, and why wouldn’t he? A law that puts the power of education back into the hands of parents and keeps all talk of sexual orientation and gender identity out of classrooms from kindergarten through third grade–that means 5, 6, and 7-year-old kids–has been erroneously labeled as a prejudicial bill targeting the supposed youngest members of the LGBTQ+ community; when, in reality, there is no such language or motion anywhere in the legislation. The Walt Disney Company–a global entertainment and media conglomerate based in Southern California–has bought into the false narrative and announced it would actively use corporate influence and financial means to attempt to overturn a bill that a majority of Floridians support.
For those who have not read the bill, here is the synopsis according to myfloridahouse.gov:
“Requires district school boards to adopt procedures that comport with certain provisions of law for notifying student’s parent of specified information; requires such procedures to reinforce fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing & control of their children; prohibits school district from adopting procedures or student support forms that prohibit school district personnel from notifying parent about specified information or that encourage student to withhold from parent such information; prohibits school district personnel from discouraging or prohibiting parental notification & involvement in critical decisions affecting student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being; prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels; requires school districts to notify parents of healthcare services; authorizes parent to bring action against school district to obtain declaratory judgment; provides for additional award of injunctive relief, damages, & reasonable attorney fees & court costs to certain parents.”
But imagine, readers, if an outside global corporation suddenly wanted to push its policies onto your state’s legislature regardless of which corporation it is or what the legislation is. How would you feel about it?
In this reporter’s opinion, the “Theme Park Vatican City” The Walt Disney World Resort and RCID were able to create over the past 50 years is an industrial and enterprising marvel. It is not only a state-of-the-art urban planning development. It also hosts massive conservation areas and will soon be the home of a brand new affordable housing development. The area is also one of the largest employers in the state and is a significant goose for the state’s overall economy.
But Florida and California are growing further and further apart in ideologies. What is stopping Disney’s “Theme Park Vatican City” from becoming a “Far-Left Hollywood” colony that takes advantage of the special privileges to push the “far-left” agenda found in its “Reimagine Tomorrow” campaign that could potentially go against Florida State law like employee training injected with Critical Race Theory or employee benefits that help pay for gender reassignment procedures for children? That is, in this reporter’s opinion, the crux of this issue and what DeSantis’ special session should be discussing.
As Gov. DeSantis said, “This state is governed by the interest of the people of the state of Florida. It is not based on the demands of California corporate executives. They do not run this state, they do not control this state.”
But Disney World is different than Disneyland in California and every other Park and aspect of the company with its own Cast Members, Management, VPs, and Presidents that live and do business in Florida. They make decisions on their own, and they proved during the pandemic that they are ready to work side by side with Tallahassee for the entire state’s benefit.
It is this reporter’s expectation–and hope–that these threats back and forth are all part of a game of chicken that will end with the agenda-pushing corporate leaders going back to California and Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District remaining intact, albeit perhaps more susceptible to Florida State Law.
Readers, this reporter does not enjoy covering this story, but it would be wrong not to cover what is turning out to be a major point in the history of the company we all love so much. This political tide will retreat soon enough, and The Most Magical Place On Earth will be magical once again. It has to.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.