Sunday, April 24, 2022

Governor DeSantis and Florida Republicans repeal the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney World's own government

For this week's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm following up on an aside in 'SNL' satirizes 'Fox & Friends' in its Supreme Court cold open: "I'm going to have to examine the right wing's attack on Disney; it's surreal." This took several forms, but the most serious was the repeal of the legislation authorizing Disney's own government, the Reedy Creek Improvement District. I begin today's examination with the Wall Street Journal's Disney's Special Tax District in Florida, Explained.

Since 1967, the Florida land housing Disney’s theme parks has been governed by the company, allowing it to manage Walt Disney World with little red tape. WSJ’s Robbie Whelan explains the special tax district that a Florida bill would eliminate.
That's a good description of how this particular part of the political battle played out. Reuters presented a broader if briefer description in Florida governor signs bill stripping Disney of special status.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that strips Disney of self-governing authority at its Orlando-area parks in retaliation for its opposition to a new law that limits the teaching of LGBTQ issues in schools.
Not only did Reuters explain what led up to the revocation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, but it also showed the spectacle of the right-wing protests of Disney at one of the entrances to the complex. That was one of the things I found surreal.

I could share many more videos, but I'm going to embed just one more, CNN's Tax collector says DeSantis' move could end up hurting his own voters.

Orange County, Florida, tax collector Scott Randolph goes through the fallout of Gov. Ron DeSantis' move to dissolve Disney's special self-governing status.
What a mess! Not only did CNN report on the effects of the repeal on services and taxes, it also mentioned the other actions DeSantis wanted passed during the special session, a congressional district map that disenfranchised African-American voters and a repeal of a provision of an anti-censorship bill that exempted Disney — two legislative acts of revenge on the Mouse, not just one! In the bigger picture, the apparent violations of state and federal law in passing the maps that DeSantis wanted over those passed by the Florida Legislature, which he vetoed, are the most important of all of them, but I'm not surprised that attacking Disney got more attention. As I first wrote in 2011, "America is quite clear about its screwed up priorities­. My experience has convinced me that the surest way to get Americans to act is to mess with their entertainm­ent." Retaliating against Disney in ways that might affect its ability to provide services for its guests has at least the appearance and maybe even the reality of messing with Americans' entertainment. This might not end well for DeSantis.

Another reason for the attention this story has attracted is its "man bites dog" aspect. Aren't Republicans supposed to be the business-friendly party? Well, they were, but this split has been building for a decade since I wrote about how Newt Gingrich threw big business under the bus while campaigning against Mitt Romney. Ten years later, the rift between Republicans and big business has opened up wide enough for everyone to see. Who knows? Maybe the Republican Party or at least DeSantis will fall into it. Break out the popcorn.


  1. Always love your prose. Pass the popcorn indeed. Always a bad policy to penalize a company since they "cannot" move. My guess is Disney will setup shop in a location that is more amenable to their business I threats and move the facility over time. Opportunity for GA or LA to get some jobs.

    1. Thank you. I hope I have enough popcorn. As for Disney moving the theme parks, they won't, although they might reconsider relocating Imagineering and Consumer Products from California to Florida. That's more than 1,000 jobs that the Orlando Metro Area won't get.