Gov. DeSantis Signs Bill to End Disney’s Self-Governing Status, Appoints Martin Garcia to Board

On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that officially ended Disney’s self-governing status and appointed the five members of the state board now in control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.[0]

The legislation, which was passed by lawmakers in early February, renamed the district the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and removed some of its powers, while also giving DeSantis the authority to appoint the board’s members.[1]

Governor DeSantis pledged to abolish the district, yet the legislation he signed the previous year failed to outline how the state should tackle the approximately $1 billion bond debt, leading to concerns that the residents of Orange and Osceola counties would have to foot the bill.[2] The district will still be accountable for the bond debt under the new legislation.[2]

The new law also puts an end to Disney’s ability to gain more land through eminent domain, imposes Florida law so that Disney is no longer given preferential treatment, and creates an avenue to compel Disney to contribute to local infrastructure.[3]

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, DeSantis said: “Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end. There’s a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day.”[4]

The feud between DeSantis and Disney began after the company, then under the leadership of Bob Chapek, opposed the state’s Parental Rights in Education measure, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law.[5] Chapek had reportedly received immense pressure from the left to weigh in against the bill, to which DeSantis warned him of the potential backlash that Disney would face due to their lack of action on China.

DeSantis appointed Martin Garcia, a Tampa lawyer and the chairman of private investment firm Pinehill Capital, as one of the board members.[6] Martin donated $50,000 to the governor’s 2022 campaign and $10,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, $10,000 to the Florida Education Connection PAC, and $25,000 to the Conservatives for Principled Leadership PAC.[7]

The ironic twist in the story is that DeSantis and his wife Casey actually got married in Walt Disney World in 2009.

0. “DeSantis Signs Law Taking Control of Disney Special District” Yahoo! Voices, 27 Feb. 2023,

1. “These are the 5 people Gov. DeSantis appointed to former Reedy Creek district’s board” WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlando, 27 Feb. 2023,

2. “Makeover of Disney’s special district is complete as DeSantis appoints new board” Miami Herald, 27 Feb. 2023,

3. “Florida takes over Disney district to punish ‘woke’ politics” Bangkok Post, 27 Feb. 2023,

4. “DeSantis signs bill stripping Disney of special district control” WESH 2 Orlando, 27 Feb. 2023,

5. “Ron DeSantis signs bill STRIPPING Disney’s control of Reedy Creek district” Daily Mail, 27 Feb. 2023,

6. “DeSantis appoints political backers to new Disney oversight board” POLITICO, 27 Feb. 2023,

7. “Ron DeSantis Gives a Donor Control of Disney” Newsweek, 27 Feb. 2023,

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