Oh sure, let’s just take away the power from the company that knows how to run a magical kingdom and give it to the government. That will surely end well. After all, we all know how well government-run entities tend to perform.
For those of you who have been living under a rock and don’t know, Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) in Florida has been the envy of every private business, with its unprecedented powers in deciding what to build, how to build it, and even the ability to build its own nuclear plant if it wanted. But, thanks to a new bill introduced this week, Disney’s RCID will soon be firmly in the control of Florida’s governor and legislative leaders. Why? Well, because Disney was foolish enough to publicly oppose the “Don’t Say Gay” law championed by Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.
According to Richard Foglesong, a professor emeritus at Rollins College who wrote a definitive account of Disney’s RCID in his book, “Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando,” Disney won’t like this change because they’re not in control. But, let’s be real, who cares about Disney’s happiness? The bigger question is how will this change impact the magic kingdom and its visitors.
Under the new bill, Florida’s governor will appoint the five-member board of supervisors to the renamed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, instead of Disney. Limits will be placed on the district’s autonomy, making it subject to oversight and regulation by state agencies. The district will also no longer have the ability to own and operate an airport, stadium, convention center, or nuclear power plant. So, not only are we taking away the power from the company that knows how to run the magic kingdom, but we’re also limiting its capabilities. What could go wrong?
The bill also prohibits anyone who has worked or had a contract with a theme park or entertainment complex in the past three years, or their relatives, from serving on the revamped district’s board of supervisors. This prohibition eliminates people with expertise in the field, but Florida Rep. Fred Hawkins, the bill’s sponsor, defends the exclusion by saying he wants to “try to avoid any conflicts of interest of the new board members.”
Well, that’s just great. We’re going to take away the power from the people who know how to run the magic kingdom and give it to people who have no experience in the field. What could possibly go wrong?
The Legislature passed a bill last year to dissolve the Disney government by June 2023, and lawmakers are meeting this week for a special session to complete the state takeover of the district. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the Legislature is also meeting to approve other key conservative priorities of the governor, such as expanding the migrant relocation program and allowing the statewide prosecutor to bring election crime charges.
Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, calls the Disney bill a “power grab” by DeSantis. But, what do Democrats know, right? They’re always trying to ruin the fun.
In conclusion, we can all sit back, relax, and watch as the magic kingdom becomes just another government-run entity that is sure to bring joy and happiness to all its visitors.