Another Swing and a Miss From Florida Against Disney

January 7, 2023, 5:20 PM · If any Disney fans remain concerned about the Walt Disney World Resort's legal status with the state of Florida, don't be. Disney continues to control its own operations in Florida, despite the governor's latest attempt to pander to anti-Disney constituents in the state and beyond.

The Florida Legislature last year voted to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District that has administrative authority over the Walt Disney World Resort property and that Disney effectively controls. [See What Is Next for Disney in Florida's Battle Over Reedy Creek?] The state's action seeks to dissolve the RCID on June 1, with an out for Disney to apply for its re-formation before then.

But the state's action violates the terms under which Florida created the RCID in the 1960s (see the link above for an explanation), so Disney has an excellent court case here if it wants to challenge the state's move against the RCID. This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pitched a state-controlled board to take over the functions of the RCID rather than allowing Disney to re-form the district.

DeSantis and his allies went after Reedy Creek when then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek finally stood up for Walt Disney World cast members and spoke out against Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law, which outlaws mention of gender or sexual orientation in K-3 classrooms in the state. (If anyone thinks that teachers will in get trouble with the state for using the words "Mom and Dad" in their classroom, you've got to be kidding. It's only mentions of "Mom and Mom" or "Dad and Dad" that will draw retribution from state authorities - thus, the pejorative, "Don't Say Gay." The law likely is headed for a long journey through the courts.)

Chapek's gone, and Bob Iger is back in charge at Disney, so some Florida Republicans now are willing to deal on the RCID. But DeSantis is all but officially running for President and is looking to appeal to conservative culture warriors among Republican voters. Taking Disney's government away and putting it under his control plays well to that base. That's why we're getting these news stories this week.

It's not going to happen, though - not without a court fight. And I would bet on Disney's lawyers against DeSantis' every single time.

My guess? Disney plays out the clock until May and then offers Florida a deal - an agreement to "re-form" the RCID by keeping the district as it has been, indefinitely, with no future legislative option to revoke it without district residents' permission. Otherwise, it's "see you in court."

The sooner that Florida officials cave and let Disney have its way, the sooner that theme park fans can expect announcements from Walt Disney World on new attractions and developments going forward at the resort. Otherwise, Disney is smart to keep future Florida expansion publicly in limbo until the state stops trying to mess around with the legal district that manages development at the Walt Disney World Resort.

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Replies (44)

January 7, 2023 at 6:22 PM

The Reedy Creek thing has been a sore subject for Florida politicians who felt taken for ride doing this when they thought EPCOT was going to be a real city. DeSantis is just the first dumb enough to try something with it and this is going to be an interesting court fight.

January 7, 2023 at 8:54 PM

Ron DeSantis is a bully and a piece of garbage.

January 8, 2023 at 1:43 AM

The thing is it really doesn't matter. DeSantis did this to play the tough man and get headlines for "owning the libs" (whatever that means). He succeeded. Most Floridians and Republicans nationwide have no idea what the Reedy Creek deal is, except that DeSantis "won".

When this is overturned and Disney goes on with business as usual, it will happen without any mention in Fox News or any of the right-wing media. DeSantis will not lose out in the court of public opinion, which is the only thing that matters to him.

January 8, 2023 at 9:07 AM

Politics is fair game on a theme park web page, huh?
Well then, most of you don’t like DeSantis because he’s the daddy you’ve never had and may never be - direct, hard-nosed and uncompromising to bull$hit. Virtue and common sense will always be valued by most American families and daddies have a moral obligation to teach and uphold these values with themselves and their children. The problem is there are not enough quality daddies to go around. If you really care, ask yourself, “Who is your daddy and what does he do (for you and your family)?” If you can’t answer this quantifiably, then grow a set and become a man that any American family would be proud of. BTW, blubbering about DeSantis on a theme park web page makes you look weak and dysfunctional. God bless America!

January 8, 2023 at 10:30 AM

I obviously can't speak for everyone, but as someone who was lucky enough to have an exceptional father (and is trying to provided the same for my children) I don't like DeSantis because he is a cruel bully, a charisma free version of the wanna be fascist who attempted a violent overthrow of our democracy two short years ago.

I get that Ron appeals to millions of folks who want government to use its resources on punishing those they hate instead of lifting us up collectively. Why spend the time and effort improving the quality of life of all citizens when you can get more airtime on far right media by trafficking immigrants and harassing transgender teens? We've seen that this tactic works in certain circles and may very well work again in 2024. Merica!

January 8, 2023 at 10:27 AM

Keith Schneider's post pretty much proves the point of the post above his lol.

I've got lots of experience dealing with politics in Florida, the Republicans in Florida remind me a lot of the Democrats in Illinois. They are total sellouts for the organizations that fund them (which are unions in Illinois and big business in Florida). Desantis had no problem with Reedy Creek while Disney was writing those checks, he also had no problems pushing laws that were literally written by the Walt Disney company to exempt them from other laws that were being passed (media regulation bill that specifically exempted Disney for example). Desantis doesn't give AF about the average person, just look at how he handled the unemployment situation during the pandemic if you want evidence of that.
Both the Republicans in Florida and Democrats in Illinois/New York are bullies that put political power over common sense, unabashedly gerrymander like crazy, and have shady people doing shady things behind the scenes. If you want a snapshot into how Florida Republicans operate just look at Randy Fine, Desantis' sidekick, flipping out and threatening to take funding away from the Special Olympics because he wasn't invited to a party at Chik Fil A. These are the people we are dealing with here in Florida politics.

January 8, 2023 at 11:09 AM

@keith:

“The problem is there are not enough quality daddies to go around.”

This innuendo-laced quote is so laden with self-owning humor that you surely must have meant it in jest, no?

January 8, 2023 at 11:26 AM

What is it called when government takes over the functions of a private, for profit corporation? Weird how socialism is bad if it helps poor people but good if a republican snowflake gets his feelings hurt.

January 8, 2023 at 11:44 AM

as an orange county resident, i fear my property taxes could increase 25-30% to satisfy desantis' over-inflated ego and to pander to his base. we have tons of housing issues here in FL. homeowner's insurance is skyrocketing or folks are losing it completely. rental property increases are out of control and corporations are snatching up properties right and left and wreaking havoc on the market. with so many service workers who live here, folks are being forced to take in boarders and share their homes. this is what big "daddy" desantis should be focused on, FL's working families, instead of "owning the libs"...incidentally, someone recently asked him to define "woke". that went about as well as you'd expect. wait till he folds like a tent in his first national debate (he pouts and whines like a middle schooler which will be a real turnoff to those who think he's gonna be the second coming of reagan). anyhow, go Disney! i never doubted for a second that they'd be on the losing end of this.

January 8, 2023 at 1:06 PM

Robert, weren't you the one who said that it was time for Disney to cede Reedy Creek years ago? I still think you had a point then when you said that the public deserves greater oversight over the operations there (even if I wish this was being done as part of a larger reform on government-business relations rather than political retribution over ideological differences).

https://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/200907/1283/

Sorry, hyperlinks don't seem to work on this site anymore.

January 8, 2023 at 3:41 PM

How much are the taxpayers of Florida paying to take this action related to RCID (legislative staff salaries, attorney invoices, court costs, etc.) and what is the economic ROI that makes this a justifiable endeavor?

That is a responsible, non-partisan, academic question that should be answered (in detail) by those public officials that initiated the proposed legislation.

January 8, 2023 at 3:58 PM

First, I applaud The_Man’s post above. It shows that both Democrats and Republicans will railroad their state when they have complete control of it.

Secondly, nice bit of detective work by James Trexen calling out Robert’s change of heart with who should control Reedy Creek. Robert has repeatedly shown his opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act by refusing to call it by its proper name and using the popular liberal title of “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Yes, other amusement park sites call it by the liberal title for clarification, but will also use the bill’s actual name to maintain their journalistic integrity.

Nobody really took the dissolution of Reedy Creek seriously. As we approach the deadline, very little, if anything, will change with the agreement. Ultimately Desantis will claim that Chapek’s exit is something he really wanted while Bob Iger will tout Disney still controls Reedy Creek and both sides will claim victory.

January 8, 2023 at 4:36 PM

Don't we come to this site for informed analysis of what's actually going on in the theme park industry? Politics is fair game when it intersects so thoroughly with the theme park business, as it does here. If you don't like Robert's conclusions because they don't match what you'd hear from Fox News or MSNBC (both networks in the business of giving viewers what they want to hear to chase ad revenue), maybe that just proves that you need to get your news from more objective sources. While Robert doesn't hide his leanings, I see nothing in this article that allows those leanings to bias his predictions. (James, I also don't think this article indicates one way or another that Robert's opinions on this have changed, just that Disney has a valid legal case to be made against the current legislation.)

January 8, 2023 at 7:38 PM

Robert, I'm more than a little bit surprised you ran this article in such an inflammatory way. Of course it's your site and you can say whatever you want but there was a time when the Replies were ripe with politics and you had to put your foot down to bring the focus back to theme parks. I appreciated the move. This article invites us once again to "send in the clowns". Hope it passes quickly.

January 9, 2023 at 11:38 AM

We get it, Keith, you're big on being owned by your "daddy." Most GOP voters know not to say the quiet part out loud.

@Grant Crawford has it right: this is performative nonsense for a brainwashed Republican base that will (again) be shielded from reality by Fox News et al. when Florida backs down, as it is sure to do. That's the core problem in our country today: GOP voters live in a fantasy world delivered to them by Fox News, so when their elected officials attempt a coup, or are under investigation for child sex trafficking, or tell brazen, demonstrably false lies, these sad people never hear the truth. Case in point, last week when McCarthy was flailing, unable to get the votes to become speaker of the House, his story barely appeared on Fox's website, and then only at the bottom of the page, and then in a brazenly slanted form.

DeSantis, like the GOP more generally, has no policy or plans of his own. He stands only for one thing: white nationalism. Everything that he says or does otherwise is either signaling to his racist base or meant to distract from his true motives. His performative hate draws GOP voters like mosquitos to a burning cross.

He could care less what happens in Florida's classrooms--indeed, if the GOP had its way, there would be no more public education. His "don't say gay" bill is intended only to signal his homophobia to a voting base that's morally corrupt and cares only about advancing their personal interests over the rest of us. He's a stooge, and Disneyworld will prosper long after he joins the trash heap of former GOP stooges like him.

What an absurd time to be alive. And look, if you don't like this discussion, head on over to Fox or Brietbart or Newsmax, there are plenty of angry White men over there who object to equality.

January 9, 2023 at 12:15 PM

Wow! You Ladies sure have your panies in a bunch. There's enogh Virtual Signaling to light up dark night in Alaska! It's fun to watch all the snow flakes melting! Now go put your legos away and clean your room. Daddy's coming home.

January 9, 2023 at 2:22 PM

Gotta say, I'm disappointed to see Theme Park Insider wade into this again. I don't come here for the politics, and the one sided articles that are clearly more opinion than fact are hard to get through. Robert, if you're going to write these you need to take a course on argumentative essays. You need to be able to convincingly write in such a way that shows you understand the oppositions viewpoint and then write a counterargument. Don't just write your opinions as if they're fact. This is poor journalism, unless you're going to slap an "Editorial" label on the top of the article. And if you don't understand the opposition in a piece you want to write, by all means try talking to someone with views other than your own.

January 9, 2023 at 3:50 PM

Hahah at the right-wing people fixated on their daddies, I think we're learning something interesting about what motivates these folks. Maybe if they'd all gotten some quality spankings growing up we wouldn't be saddled with such a noxious, nihilistic GOP.

And again, @angryduck, if you don't like it, go to Fox. This isn't a both sides thing, this is a reality vs. hateful fantasy world thing. Russell's article is completely fair, and rightfully avoids pretending that far-right wing-nut Americans have a valid position that needs to be respected. The GOP is a white nationalist criminal cabal that uses brazenly false propaganda (in the form of Fox, et al) to keep its brainwashed voters in check. If they want to subscribe to that false narrative and advance their noxious cause, go for it, but they can't come crying when rational, informed people invite them to take their hateful fantasies and go punt.

January 9, 2023 at 2:42 PM

@Thecolonel I'm not a Fox fan for the same reason as I'm criticizing this article. It's poor journalism to tell one side of a story and act like there isn't another. This is by far not a settled issue in the American consciousness, and to write an article that pretends that it is shows a tremendous amount of hubris. Robert does a great job weighing the pros and cons of new rides, but has major blind spots when it comes to writing political articles. Poor journalism is poor journalism whether it's here or FOX or wherever else you want to point to.

January 9, 2023 at 2:48 PM

Oh, and @Thecolonel, name calling is also not an effective form of argument, especially considering I never espoused any of my political views in my replies.

January 9, 2023 at 3:31 PM

Angry Duc: "You need to be able to convincingly write in such a way that shows you understand the oppositions (sic) viewpoint ..."

Me: The opposition has no viewpoint.

January 9, 2023 at 3:51 PM

AngryDuck, I did not intend to call you any names (though I have edited some generalized "you's" to be clear I'm not addressing you specifically). I also didn't ascribe to you a political bent. I simply said if you don't want to hear Russell's reasoned position, go to Fox, where you can be sure you won't encounter such a thing.

And as TH rightfully says, there are not two sides here. There is one side, and then there is a sad cult of self-deluded bigots who continue to insist we pretend their position has some ideological foundation other than hate. This is what I was trying to say before: reasonable Americans are done countenancing the far-right's noxious hate campaign, so if they want to be part of functioning society, they have to either give up the hate or, at the very least, go back to the old GOP method of keeping it to themselves. They have every right to be bigots, and we have every right to exclude them.

January 9, 2023 at 3:59 PM

Russell, I just wanted to quickly interject that I think this site is just tops. Keep it up Russ!!! ;)

January 9, 2023 at 4:09 PM

The legislative action is not the product of a viewpoint. It is an act of aggression in response to the engagement of protected free speech.

January 9, 2023 at 4:15 PM

I've decided not to emigrate to Florida.

January 9, 2023 at 4:15 PM

@ fattyackin - Standing and Applauding

January 9, 2023 at 4:38 PM

"The legislative action is not the product of a viewpoint. It is an act of aggression in response to the engagement of protected free speech."

Extremely well said.

January 9, 2023 at 6:04 PM

Incidentally, if you need further evidence that this is not about policy "viewpoints" and is all about the deployment of thuggery against someone who is regarded/feared as a political opponent, please research the Governor's legislative point man, Representative Randy Fine. Enter "Florida Rep. Randy Fine special Olympics" in a Google search.

Mr. Niles' perspective is on target and above board. Period.

January 9, 2023 at 7:15 PM

Correct, TH, Mr. Niles’ perspective (from his July 2009 editorial) is on target. RCID’s fire department has come out in support of the new plan backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Tim Stromsnes, communications director of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Local 2117 union, told the Orlando Sentinel “Anything has got to be better than what we currently have. We really hope that this new board will bring the morale up for Reedy Creek [and] will make us an elite emergency services department again. We’ve got our faith in the governor that we’re going to be around and that it’s going to be a better place to work.”
Mommy, where’s daddy?

January 9, 2023 at 6:56 PM

go to therapy

January 9, 2023 at 6:57 PM

KS: "Correct, TH,"

Me: Thanks. I hope you and yours are doing well.

January 9, 2023 at 7:09 PM

LOL! TH, sincerely, I hope you and your family have a great 2023. Maybe we can meet up for the opening of TRON this spring.
See TPI readers, we’re not all bad, just a little.

January 10, 2023 at 5:59 AM

Keith,

I’m sorry you had a lousy father and are apparently a lousy one yourself and someone like Ron DeSantis has to fill those voids in your life. I hope someday you can come to grips with your resentment.

Also: my father was a far better man on his worst day than you are on your best.

That is all.

January 10, 2023 at 7:21 AM

Congrats, Robert: you’ve succeeded with driving traffic back to your website. Well done!

January 10, 2023 at 7:42 AM

I'm not sure why I'm being dragged into this. I'd prefer to stay out of messy and divisive Florida politics.

January 10, 2023 at 8:34 AM

Um quick ... Deploy a distraction ... (THC tosses shiny object in corner) ... The Walt Disney World parks are better than the Universal parks ... (THC exits the room).

January 10, 2023 at 10:31 AM

See how toxic the left (TheOldCream and thecolonel) can be - assume everything with emotion and prove nothing with fact. TheOldCream, what are you 10 years old, because you and your post are so very sad.

January 10, 2023 at 10:30 AM

Uh, you are the same person who directly stated that people who don’t like DeSantis have terrible fathers and are probably terrible fathers themselves, right?

I just want to make sure I’ve got this correct before I consider the possibility that you’re not just some run of the mill RW troll, but that there might legitimately be something mentally wrong with you.

January 10, 2023 at 12:12 PM

TheOldCream, read the entire statement - a daddy that is “direct, hard-nosed, and uncompromising to bull$hit.” That’s the daddy most have never had. Unfortunately, an overzealous and/or overly emotional nature may restrict you from recognizing and ultimately understanding this statement. Maybe you need to stand in the corner for 10 minutes in time out to get your mind right.

January 10, 2023 at 12:15 PM

Call it what you will, Keith, but whether it's reason or emotion, Americans are done tolerating the far-right's pathetic hate parade.

January 10, 2023 at 12:41 PM

thecolonel, what does the hate parade look like? And please, just the facts, ma’am.

January 10, 2023 at 12:47 PM

Don’t worry, I’m not upset. I’m just amused you can say that I’m being emotional and not fact based, while simultaneously claiming that most people who don’t like DeSantis have fathers who didn’t raise them the right way and won’t raise their own kids right either. I’d explain the irony to you, but I’m sure you couldn’t understand it.

But please feel free to continue bragging about what an amazing dad you are. I find that with fatherhood, as with most things in life, the people who are most overt about letting everyone know how great they are at it are usually the ones that have the biggest shortcomings to compensate for.

January 11, 2023 at 6:31 AM

Quality daddies matter and statistics support this fact, for the betterment of children, mothers and society as a whole. You get it? I’ve now stated two definitive facts in this thread, maybe the only two facts in this entire thread, with the exception of Russell (not the editor of TPI and not the writer of this story) who stated his preference to stay out of messy and divisive Florida politics.

January 10, 2023 at 3:22 PM

Sheneeder a daddy with straps obviously and sounds like he found one on the side !

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