Apr 20, 2022 - Politics

DeSantis declares war on Disney

Illustration of a shoe about to step on Mickey Mouse ears.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Gov. Ron DeSantis is going head-to-head with Disney.

What's happening: DeSantis added an agenda item to the Legislature's special session on redistricting this week, asking legislators to repeal the law that allows the Walt Disney World Resort to operate as a self-governing body.

Flashback: After pressure from employees and fans, Disney stopped political donations in Florida and vowed to help repeal the recently signed Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed "Don't Say Gay" by critics.

  • At the bill's signing, DeSantis said that no matter what kind of pressure he gets from activists, the media or companies like Disney, he's "not backing down."

Context: In 1967, Florida passed a law allowing Disney to control its own zoning through a governing body called The Reedy Creek Improvement District, covering 39 square miles, two cities and land in Orange and Osceola counties. There's even Reedy Creek police and fire departments.

  • Repealing Reedy Creek's special taxing district status would no longer exempt the park and its environs from some state regulations.

What they're saying: ​​House Speaker Chris Sprowls defended DeSantis, telling reporters Tuesday that the House was already considering repealing Disney's self-governance status for what he called abuse of its corporate power to impact political policy.

  • Disney representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

What's next: If DeSantis has his way, legislators will pass a law that would dissolve Disney's special district on June 1, 2023.


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