During a recent episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the comedian and talk-show host presented a satirical version of the Walt Disney World Resort following the Reedy Creek District’s dissolution by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Ironically, DeSantis apparently accepted multiple donations to fund his campaign platform between 2019 and 2021, amounting to $100,000. However, following tensions between the Southern legislator and the animation mogul after Disney spoke out against his controversial “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” DeSantis began a campaign to revoke Walt Disney Company control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Although initially proposed when Walt envisioned EPCOT as an active urban community during the early days of the Florida project, the Reedy Creek Improvement District act allowed Disney to build the new theme park space between two separate Florida counties, Orange County and Osceola County, without invalidating local laws or causing Florida residents to foot the bill for construction costs.
In addition, company executives retained significant control over the area’s management, allowing for stricter Covid-19 guidelines at the start of the pandemic and vaccine requirements, unlike much of the rest of Florida, as well as the operation of a Reedy Creek fire department which serves the Walt Disney World area exclusively. Now, the formerly self-governed district will now answer to a board appointed by DeSantis himself, who stated in a news conference: “We’re not going to have a corporation controlling its own government,” nor “going to bend the knee to woke executives in California.”
Of course, DeSantis isn’t the only one to take issue with recent Company developments. In fact, conservative fans have similarly harshly criticized the animation studios for its recent inclusion of more racially diverse castings, as well as LGBTQ+ themes and representation, and the theme park division’s commitment to inclusion, the fifth key, through decisions such as removing the racially insensitive Splash Mountain ride.
Even so, Colbert’s satirical segment shows just how joyless the Disney Parks could be for everyone if DeSantis’ new legislation does become more restrictive. As Walt Disney World’s signature fireworks launch above Cinderella Castle, the voiceover explains, “We here at Disney Parks have received our marching orders and are thrilled to announce updates to our newly de-wokeified magical kingdom.”
Moreover, a later bit jokingly reimagines the Hall of Presidents as impacted by DeSantis’ bill, which primarily regulates K-12 education curriculum from mentioning specific topics or figures, especially history. In it, Abraham Lincoln’s achievements selectively focus on his creation of the Department of Agriculture, as Disney announces it will “no longer include parts of American history Ron’s supporters don’t want to talk about.”
Later in the skit, Colbert’s DeSantis World goes so far as to provide entertainment character costumes with “realistic genitalia” to prevent any misconceptions of their gender, turns “it’s a small world” into It’s A Straight World, deports Encanto’s Tio Bruno, and transforms Disney’s Animal Kingdom from an animal sanctuary to a public hunting ground. While the clip is obviously overexaggerating for the sake of humor, it does pose a bold question about the fate of the Florida Disney Parks Resort now that it is not only subject to internal Company approval.