Feb 11, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Disney won't fight Ron DeSantis' takeover of Reedy Creek district

An entranceway to Walt Disney World on Feb. 8 in Orlando, Fla. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida lawmakers approved a bill Friday revoking Disney's special status over its theme parks in the state, granting more power to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

The big picture: Disney said it will not fight the bill and that it's "ready to work within this new framework," Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World, said in a statement.

  • "We appreciate all that the District has done to help our destination grow and become one of the largest economic contributors and employers in the state," Vahle added.
  • "We will continue to innovate, inspire and bring joy to the millions of guests who come to Florida to visit Walt Disney World each year," the statement continued.

Driving the news: The bill creates a special tax district to oversee the 25,000 acres of land surrounding the Walt Disney World resort.

  • The new entity, dubbed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, will be operated by a five-member board appointed by DeSantis and confirmed by the state Senate, per Variety.
  • The move effectively gives DeSantis power over operations, including collecting taxes.

Background: DeSantis has been battling with Disney ever since the company came out in opposition against the state's controversial Parental Rights in Education Law — dubbed by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" law.

  • Last April, DeSantis signed into law a bill that would revoke the special status of Reedy Creek, a municipal district operated by Walt Disney Co.
  • He then hinted the state would take control over Disney World's self-governing district, instead of handing it over to local governments if it dissolved.
  • The district was created in 1967 to allow Disney to carry out municipal functions of its own. The law allowed Walt Disney World Resort to operate as a self-governing body.
  • Repealing Reedy Creek's special taxing district status will no longer exempt the park from some state regulations.

Disney did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

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