Both chambers of the Florida Legislature have voted to eliminate the special district that allows the Walt Disney Company to self-govern its Orlando-area theme park.
The state Senate passed the measure 23-16 along party lines on April 20, and the House approved the bill 70-38 the next day. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill April 22.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was created in a 1967 deal between the state and the Walt Disney Company. For the last five decades, Disney has essentially operated its 25,000-acre property as its own municipal government, with its own board of supervisors and fire department.
In a video posted to his Twitter page, Florida state Rep. Spencer Roach explained: “They are their own government. They’re exempt from all county regulation and most state regulations. Legally under the law, Disney could build a nuclear power plant there and we couldn’t do a … thing about it.”
While lawmakers have long been critical of the special privileges afforded to Disney, the company’s recent threats to aid in repealing the state’s new “Parental Rights in Education” law has spurred Florida Republicans to action.
“There’s policy disputes, and that’s fine,” DeSantis told Fox & Friends on April 1, “but when you’re trying to impose a woke ideology on our state, we view that as a significant threat.”
As a result of the controversy, Disney’s stock price fell on April 21, ending the day down 2.3%.
Disney’s special district will be dissolved June 1, 2023.
Updated: April 22, 4:00 p.m.