Disney Vs. DeSantis: The Next Volley In Florida's Political Fight

Zinger Key Points
  • Walt Disney lobbied for the Reedy Creek Improvement District's creation.
  • DeSantis accused the company of bringing "California values" to Florida's political environment.

The political feud between Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Co. DIS took a sharp right turn with the governor calling a special session of the state legislature to revoke a special status that enabled the company to operate as an independent government in the area around its Orlando theme parks.

What Happened: During a press conference on Tuesday, DeSantis announced the legislature was meeting for its decennial reconfiguration of the state’s congressional district map based on the results of the recent U.S. Census data updates.

He then added an extra agenda item for the Republican-majority legislature to pursue that involved “termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968, and that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”

The Reedy Creek Improvement District functions as a county government and covers roughly 39 square miles that includes the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista plus the unincorporated land within its parameters. It was created in 1967 at the insistence of Walt Disney when was planning to create his Florida theme parks.

The legendary studio head stated the company would function more efficiently with full autonomy rather than answering to county governments. Gov. Claude R. Kirk Jr., a Republican, signed the legislation creating the district in May 1967, seven months before Disney passed away.

See Also: Billie Eilish To Headline Disney+ 'Simpsons' Short: Here Are The Details

What Happens Next: Disney and DeSantis have been at loggerheads since the company came out belatedly against the controversial so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that prohibits sex education teaching in schools prior to the third grade; the company later issued a statement that it would work to have the new law overturned while DeSantis called the company "woke" and accused it of injecting "California values" in his state's political environment.

If the Reedy Creek Improvement District was dissolved, its functions would be absorbed by Orange and Osceola counties and the district’s tax revenues would be divided between the two counties.

However, an analysis by WFTV.com determined that the costs of dissolving the district might outweigh the political benefits. The district has been operating at a loss of approximately $5 million to $10 million per year, which Disney has subsidized, but taxpayers in the Orange and Osceola counties would then become responsible for a new wave of infrastructure costs plus the district’s debt, which is reportedly as high as $1 billion.

Disney did not respond to DeSantis’ action and could take the matter to court to prevent Reedy Creek Improvement District from being dismantled.

Posted In: Don't Say GayFloridaReedy Creek Improvement DistrictRon DeSantisWalt Disney Co.GovernmentNewsPoliticsTop StoriesGeneral

Ad Disclosure: The rate information is obtained by Bankrate from the listed institutions. Bankrate cannot guaranty the accuracy or availability of any rates shown above. Institutions may have different rates on their own websites than those posted on Bankrate.com. The listings that appear on this page are from companies from which this website receives compensation, which may impact how, where, and in what order products appear. This table does not include all companies or all available products.

All rates are subject to change without notice and may vary depending on location. These quotes are from banks, thrifts, and credit unions, some of whom have paid for a link to their own Web site where you can find additional information. Those with a paid link are our Advertisers. Those without a paid link are listings we obtain to improve the consumer shopping experience and are not Advertisers. To receive the Bankrate.com rate from an Advertiser, please identify yourself as a Bankrate customer. Bank and thrift deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Credit union deposits are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Consumer Satisfaction: Bankrate attempts to verify the accuracy and availability of its Advertisers' terms through its quality assurance process and requires Advertisers to agree to our Terms and Conditions and to adhere to our Quality Control Program. If you believe that you have received an inaccurate quote or are otherwise not satisfied with the services provided to you by the institution you choose, please click here.

Rate collection and criteria: Click here for more information on rate collection and criteria.