DeSantis Seeks to End Disney’s Special Status

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that lawmakers would consider terminating special districts enacted in Florida before 1968, including the district that gives Disney World extensive control over the area where it operates its park.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, the official name of the 25,000-acre property owned by Disney, was negotiated in the mid-1960s to give Disney a special taxing district and allow it to operate as a quasi-government agency, exempting it from most state regulations. Disney is Florida’s largest employer and draws about 20 million visitors a year. 

While Democrats have been critical of Disney’s relationship with lawmakers in the past, citing large donations to Florida politicians, including DeSantis, some are questioning the timing of the proposal. DeSantis has criticized Disney for requiring its employees to wear facemasks and Disney CEO Bob Chapek recently spoke out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

It is unclear how Disney or the surrounding local governments would be affected by the change.

Additional Reading

DeSantis wants to end Disney World’s special status in Florida, NPR (April 19, 2022)

DeSantis: Florida lawmakers to consider elimination of Disney’s self-governing status, The Hill (April 19, 2022)

DeSantis proposes dissolving special tax status for Disney World, The Washington Post (April 19, 2022)

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