Florida Lawmakers Vote to Dissolve Walt Disney World’s Private Government

Florida Lawmakers Vote to Dissolve Walt Disney World’s Private Government

Empty tables at Walt Disney World's EPCOT (Photo via Brooke Geiger McDonald)

Florida lawmakers passed a new bill on Thursday that would dissolve Walt Disney World’s private government, dubbed the Reedy Creek Improvement District, by the end of June 2023.

According to The Associated Press, the Florida House of Representatives was tasked with passing a new congressional map drawn by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a move that would dissolve the 55-year-old Disney government body.

Now that the new bill has passed both houses of the state’s Congress, it moves to DeSantis’ office to be signed into law. Opponents of the new map staged a sit-in protest on the House floor, prompting supporters to briefly walk out.

While the bill would have ripple effects on the local economy, the measure allows for the districts to be reestablished, leaving an avenue to renegotiate in the future.

The 27,000-acre Reedy Creek Improvement District was a crucial element in Disney’s plans to build near Orlando in the 1960s. While the company’s plan to build a futuristic city never came to fruition, it became the Epcot theme park.

The passage of the bill is the latest step in a battle between DeSantis and Disney over its opposition to a measure that critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The Governor recently passed a law barring instruction that is not age or developmentally appropriate, including teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

Disney remains one of Florida’s largest private employers, with more than 60,00 employees on the books. It remains unclear how the company will be impacted if the district is dissolved.

Earlier this month, Disney World announced face coverings are now optional for all guests, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status, while indoors, outdoors and even utilizing transportation such as buses and monorails.

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