Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took a stand trying to get back to Disney for speak against the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill – something that only happened after members of the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies put pressure on the company by protests which received an outpouring of support across the country.
DeSantis responded this week by calling a special legislative session that voted to end Walt Disney World District Special Privilegescreated in 1967 under the name of “Reedy Creek Improvement District.” Essentially, the vote revokes the Disney Company’s ability to manage what belongs to one’s own city without bureaucratic interference, but it could also transfer $1 billion in municipal debt to surrounding counties.
What is the Reedy Creek Improvement District?
Reedy Creek is currently its own district entity in Florida where Walt Disney World exists. It manages its own infrastructure, including but not limited to fire and sheriff contracts, waste disposal systems, and municipal works that approve its permits as well as road construction. And yes, that’s how Disney has bypassed the state for approvals for hotel expansions and constructions for Walt Disney World for the past few decades.
The Special Ward was originally set in motion to aid Walt Disney’s plans for EPCOT as he described in 1966, which he wanted to build as an example of a sustainable city of the future. With the Florida Projecthe dreamed of creating a new urban community where American free enterprise could test the latest innovations, with the goal of beginning to solve problems that suburban sprawl and the auto industry ignored. At the time, Florida was fine with Disney’s ambitious idea, as long as there was still a theme park aspect to attract tourists. However, the Special Ward did not come through until after Disney’s death in late 1966 and has since been used as a way to cut red tape and expedite building plans with minimal state interference. and county. The only remnants of some of Walt’s old plans exist in his transportation system, comprehensive recycling program, commitment to wildlife preservation, and aspects of his park-to-table food service – a highlight of the EPCOT’s “Living with the Land” attraction learns how Disney grows some of its vegetation and fish on its own property. It offers pure nostalgia for retro futurism amid the IP-heavy escapes of nearly everything else in the park.
Thanks to Reedy’s CreekDisney was able to operate as an independent entity and also paid exorbitant property taxes in Orange and Osceola, the counties affected by its land. Bloomberg reported that if Reedy Creek is dissolved, it will come at a huge cost to Florida taxpayers: $1 billion in debt for 27 square miles of land they don’t really need to be responsible for. In other words, it feels like Florida is going to shoot now and find out – and its people – will bleed later.
Why is Florida dismantling the Reedy Creek Improvement District?
The Walt Disney Company under the current CEO Bob Chapek came under fire for not initially speaking out against Florida’s HB 1777 Legislature, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which was supported by politicians who had received donations from Disney. (Chapek later announced the company “suspended” these donations.) Eventually, Disney released a statement against the bill, but only after it has been passed and after extensive public scrutiny. “Our goal as a company is to see this law repealed by the legislature or struck down by the courts, and we remain committed to supporting national and state organizations working to achieve this,” he read. “We are committed to defending the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.” The company continued to restore a kiss between a same-sex couple in Pixar Light year.
It’s unclear if Disney still expects employees to move to its new campus in Lake Nona, Fla., particularly if they feel they or their families are at risk if they identify themselves. like LGBTQ+. Currently, “Don’t Say Gay” restricts discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms. Moreover, the Florida Department of Health. described the following for anyone living in the state: “Social gender transition should not be a treatment option for children or adolescents.”
What will happen next for Disney?
As for the future of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, it’s up to the Florida House to make the final decision on who will pay the price, especially the billion dollar bond debt. “As a bondholder, we worry about who is going to pay us back,” said Evgenia Lando, portfolio manager for Thornburg Investment Managementfor Bloomberg how it may fall to surrounding local governments to absorb the blow. But even though she thinks it’s just a show, “it’s definitely the headlines and the noise; it’s nothing you want attached to an entity.
Starting Thursday, the bill that could dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District was pushed through the Florida House of Representatives for DeSantis to sign a 70-38 vote. Ultimately, however, it will come down to a vote among the residents of Reedy Creek. The probability of it do not to pass and be knocked down seems high, as taxpayers may prefer not to have to shoulder a behemoth industry that functions quite well as its own municipal government and provides jobs while stimulating the state economy. So it could very well be done in a mutual agreement between Disney and Orange County voters. DeSantis, who was hoping for a Republican presidential bid in 2024, might just be preparing to take his own bait — and the downfall.
We have reached out to The Walt Disney Company for comment on the vote and will update this post if and when we receive a response.
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