OAN Deven Berryhill
UPDATED 1:06 PM PT – Monday, February 27, 2023
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday advancing state oversight on the property surrounding Walt Disney World.
During a press event at Lake Buena Vista near Orlando, Governor DeSantis (R- Fla.) announced that the Walt Disney Company will “lose its self-governing status.” Critics have claimed that the Florida theme park has enjoyed too much autonomy during its 50 year history.
“Allowing a corporation to control its own government is bad policy, especially when the corporation makes decisions that impact an entire region,” said DeSantis. “This legislation ends Disney’s self-governing status, makes Disney live under the same laws as everybody else, and ensures that Disney pays its debts and fair share of taxes.”
According to the Governor’s website, Florida House Bill (HB) 9-B, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Orange, and Osceola Counties, will end self-governing status and all special privileges provided to Walt Disney World. The website stated that The Reedy Creek Improvement District will establish a new state-controlled district accountable to the people of Florida. The Florida Governor listed eight amendments regarding the Reedy Creek Improvement District charter.
- ENDS Disney’s self-governing status.
- ENDS Disney’s exemption from the Florida Building Code and Florida Fire Prevention Code.
- ENDS Disney’s exemption from state regulatory reviews and approvals.
- ENDS Disney’s secrecy by ensuring transparency.
- ENSURES that Disney will pay its fair share of taxes.
- PREVENTS leftist local governments from using the situation to raise local taxes.
- IMPOSES Florida law so that Disney is no longer given preferential treatment.
- ENSURES that Disney’s municipal debt will be paid by Disney, not Florida taxpayers.
Its reported that Governor DeSantis will be appointing a five-member state “Control Board” to oversee the management of Florida House Bill 9-B. The Governor said that these appointments will still be subject to state senate approval.
“What’s good for Sea World is good for Disney,” said DeSantis regarding fairness. “We have a situation here that was basically indefensible from a policy perspective. How do you give one theme park its own government and then treat all the other theme parks differently? We believe that that was not good policy.”
According to the Themed Entertainment Association, Disney World is reported to be the largest employer in central Florida with 75,000 employees. The theme park drew in an estimated 36.2 million visitors in 2021.
“[I am] very proud of our [Florida] parks, and the many people who have been able to come here over the years.” concluded the Governor. “[Disney] has been a ‘rite of passage’ for many people over the years.”
In March 2022, Disney’s then-chief executive officer, Bob Chapek, voiced his disappointment with the bill for limiting LGBTQ discussion in Florida schools. Disney has since ousted Chapek, reinstating former CEO Robert Iger.
“We want Disney to be what Walt Envisioned,” said DeSantis. “When you lose your way, you gotta have people to tell you the truth. We hope that they (Disney) can get back on [track]. We want the type of entertainment all families can appreciate.”