During a special session called for the purpose, Florida’s Senate has passed a bill that would end the special autonomous tax district status granted to Walt Disney World 1967. The bill now goes to Florida’s House, where passage is expected. Gov. DeSantis will, of course, sign the bill into law.
The mainstream news media and its minions are pushing, hard, the skewed narrative that this is GOP hypocrisy, with a state government using its power to punish a corporation’s free speech. That, however, is not a correct analysis.
What Disney did, when it publicly announced that it would protest and fight to repeal the Parental Rights in Education Law (falsely and dishonestly tagged the “Don’t Say Gay” law by LGTBQ activists, including much of the news media), was to breach the implicit conditions of its 55 year-old deal with the State of Florida, and, in an uncharacteristic blunder, prompt it to do what it had an ethical and legal duty to do anyway.
By 1967, Walt Disney himself had been negotiating a sweetheart deal with Florida since Walt Disney World was just another twinkle in his eye. The planned 40 acre complex was audacious and unprecedented, and audacious because it was unprecedented. Central Florida was an under-utilized swamp, and Disney was promising to turn it into the biggest tourist destination in the U.S. This would mean publicity, tourism ,commerce, hotel construction, jobs, tax revenue and development for Florida, and Disney was a tough negotiator. (Another Disney theme park project planned for Manassas, Virginia was abruptly killed when that state was less than accommodating.) Disney had a well-earned reputation for doing things right, so Florida saw nothing but benefits in allow it nearly complete freedom to build and run the new theme park the way it chose, without meddling from regulators. When Disney wanted to build a building, fill in a lake, or pave a road, it didn’t have to seek permits or approval, allowing the place to operate and start making money for itself and Florida as early as possible. Continue reading