Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Nixes Disney World’s Special Tax District

The new law will eliminate an independent tax district that allows Disney World—one of Florida’s biggest employers—to privately govern the land that it owns
140

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will dissolve Disney Co.’s independent tax district—it’s been called a “Vatican with mouse ears“—on the land just outside Orlando where Disney World sits, DeSantis announced in a press release Friday.

The new law eliminates an independent tax district that allows Disney World—one of Florida’s biggest employers—to privately govern the land that it owns, well as save tens of millions in tax obligations.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, as it is called—as well as a few similar districts—is slated to dissolve into Osceola and Orange County by June, 2023.

DeSantis and Disney have been at war since March, when the company publicly opposed his new law, nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay,” as anti-LGBTQ. DeSantis reacted by pulling Disney into a public culture feud as he accuses the company of being anti-parent.

Disney decided just weeks ago that it was “pausing” all political donations in Florida to show its opposition to the law.

The independent tax district at hand is the Reedy Creek Improvement District—the 38 square foot parcel of land outside Orlando on which Disney World sits. Not only does it save tens of millions in county and state taxes every year, it is also allowed self-governance, with its own fire and police departments. Reedy Creek and therefore Disney World is also exempt from many state and local rules when it comes to building codes and fees, as well as the environment, with its own services for zoning, utilities, and infrastructure.

The most obvious implications of the dissolution is the tax burden on the counties that Reedy Creek will be dissolved into.

At a Democratic fundraiser on Thursday, President Joe Biden spoke out about DeSantis’ war against Disney, reports Yahoo! News. While he said he had “respect” for conservatives, he added, “There’s nothing conservative about deciding you’re going to throw Disney out of its present posture because, Mickey Mouse? In fact, you think we should not be able to say, you know, ‘gay’? I mean, what’s going on here? What the hell is going on here?”

The “Don’t Say Gay” law prohibits teachers having classroom discussion about sexual identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade.


Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.