Disney World has faced a wave of targeted attacks from the Florida state government in wake of recent statements made about the LGBTQ+ community, and Florida seeks to crack down on Disney’s local authority over the state.
After Florida’s senate passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida (formally known as the “Parental Rights in Education Act”), Disney World’s then-CEO, Bob Chapek, spoke out and received backlash as a result.
The Parental Rights in Education Act specifically targets schools, forbidding them to discuss topics related to sexuality and gender in grades kindergarten through third grade. This has sparked more than a dozen states to follow suit and pass similar laws targeting LGBTQ+ education across the United States.
In 2022, Variety reported that, in a letter from the LGBTQ members of Pixar, Bob Chapek, the then-CEO of Disney, was encouraged to speak out against the bill and the harm it would create for the LGBTQ+ community. Chapek released a formal statement that Disney “unequivocally stand[s] in support of our LGBTQ+ employees, their families and their communities.”
According to them.us, in response, DeSantis targeted the Reedy Creek Independent District, a tax district that allowed Disney full authority over construction projects and other Disney projects. In this attack against the company, DeSantis attempted to return full authority over the district to the state of Florida, removing Disney’s authority over the district that essentially allowed it to operate as a local government entity. The Reedy Creek Board was set to be dissolved in January 2023.
The ongoing dispute between Ron DeSantis, especially with the impending elimination of the Reedy Creek Board, has sparked rumors that Disney would be leaving Florida. Several states such as North Carolina and Texas have stated that they would welcome Disney to move locations to their respective states, though there are no confirmed plans for Disney to leave at this time. In a political move to welcome Disney to its state, North Carolina state senators passed the “Mickey’s Freedom Restoration Act,” a bill that “would create a study commission to develop a plan to attract family-friendly amusement parks to North Carolina,” according to Fox 35 News. It also seeks to support both small and large businesses alike.
However, it does not seem that Disney is going anywhere anytime soon. In a counter move, the outgoing Reedy Creek Board voted on a clause to allow Disney to operate “until twenty one (21) years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III,” according to CBC News.
Disney is not ruled by a monarchy. However, CBC reports that it is common practice to tie clauses to the lifespan of a single person. At this time, the youngest survivor of King Charles III is two years old.
This decision, reportedly, was not done in private. However, DeSantis has plans, according to CBC news, to investigate this decision further.
DeSantis has a record of targeting businesses that promote or engage in “critical race theory” in Florida under the “Stop W.O.K.E.” Act, highlighting attacks on what many conservatives call “the woke agenda” in the United States.
Sam Walsh, English Graduate Student