When Walt Disney decided to build a brand-new theme park in Central Florida, he knew he had to be secretive about it. Walt’s Disneyland Park was seeing massive success, and the ingenious creator knew that if people knew he was the one looking to buy land, the price he would pay would skyrocket. In order to keep things on the down-low, he created a number of shell companies to buy the land. Those shell companies would then be united as part of the Reedy Creek Improvement District with the passing of a government act in 1967.
Reedy Creek is technically its own little government. It has its own electric grid, its own medical services, and even its own Wi-Fi service. It has been nearly completely independent since 1967. During that time, things have been going well for both Disney and the state of Florida. Disney is one of the largest employers in the state, and Florida rakes in millions of dollars every year in Disney World tourism.
Unfortunately, the relationship between Disney and Florida has recently become incredibly strained. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law the Parental Rights in Education Bill — which Disney was very vocal about being against. Disney has said they will work to repeal the bill, and DeSantis has said that Disney does not run the state.
Every day, it appears that the relationship between Disney and Florida falls apart a little more. It is now being reported that several Florida legislators are looking at repealing the Reedy Creek act that granted Disney its own government. According to ClickOrlando:
“In effect, they’re their own city out there. They can zone the way they want. They can do things the way they want. They can even build a nuclear power plant if they want,” News 6 political analyst Jim Clark said.
Those rights are now being discussed among some Florida lawmakers who are thinking about repealing the Reedy Creek Improvement Act of 1967.
“I think that this is a feud that is escalating into a war between Florida Republicans and the Disney corporation which is the largest single-site employer in Florida,” Clark said.
Richard Foglesong, a retired Rollins College political science professor and the author of Married to the Mouse, said he believes talks of revoking the act is just a way of the Republican party showing what they stand for, but no real change will come out of those discussions.
“If you ask me whether it’s politically possible to take these privileges away from the Disney company, I don’t think so,” Foglesong said. “I think that cooler minds will prevail and that this is really a shot across the bow to try to bring the Disney company, Mickey Mouse if you will, into line with Governor DeSantis. I thought it was more of March Madness of the political kind, the thought that the Republican Party, which used to be the party of business, would want to take on of their biggest donors.”
If Republican legislators try to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, it would most likely only make the relationship worse. Disney is currently planning to move thousands of employees to the state. Lake Nona, Florida is set to be the new Imagineering hub. Disney will receive major tax breaks for doing so, but Florida would also get millions of dollars. It is already rumored that Chapek is being pressured to stop the move, and if legislators try to follow through on their threat, that rumor could become reality.
Disney has not commented on the possible repeal at this time.