The Florida Legislature voted last week to strip one of the biggest multinational entertainment and media conglomerates in the world, the Walt Disney Company, of its 55-year-old self-governing privileges at Walt Disney World. The move comes after the company condemned a new state education law, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, that opponents are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The theme park megaresort, located within Orange and Osceola County, started when Walt Disney, after being drawn to the interstate highway system in Orlando, bought millions of dollars worth of Central Florida farmland. The land, which measures 40-square miles, was controlled by Disney after the state designated the area as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, NPR reports. This was to relieve the surrounding counties of paying for new services and any infrastructure the company would like to use or create in the once rural farmland.
The district was established in 1967 when the state, working with the Walt Disney Company, created a special taxing district, which allows the entity to run the theme park with the same authority and responsibility as a county government. This means Disney is allowed to build and maintain municipal services, such as electricity, water, and roads. It can also provide police and fire protection while taxing itself.