Governor DeSantis Signs Legislation Stripping Disney’s Self-Governing Status in Florida

TALLAHASSEE – In a move that observers view as retaliation for its opposition to the “There’s a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day.” bill, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill into law Monday that strips away the Walt Disney Company’s self-governing status in the state.[0] The move follows a year-long feud between DeSantis and Disney after the media giant criticized Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, officially called the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act.

The newly passed legislation renames the district the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and gives the governor power to appoint five supervisors to oversee traditional municipal services, such as fire protection, public utilities, waste collection and road maintenance, in the region where Disney World operates.[1] This quasi-governmental body is authorized to generate revenue to pay off any debts and fund the expenses of services.[1]

“Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end,” DeSantis said Monday at a bill signing ceremony on Disney property.[2] A fresh sheriff has arrived, and responsibility will be prioritized.[3]

DeSantis has had a contentious relationship with The Walt Disney Company after its former CEO Bob Chapek publicly opposed the state’s “There’s a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day.” bill, which bars classroom teachings about sexual orientation and gender identity before fourth grade.

The legislation also appoints Bridget Ziegler, a conservative education activist who was a major backer of the “There’s a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day.” bill, to the board.[4] Under the guidance of Ziegler, the Parental Rights in Education Act for the state was crafted. This act restricts any classroom instruction or conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, and in any higher grades deemed to be either not “Don’t Say Gay” or “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”[5]

Legislation was passed to rename the board the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, with provisions for Disney Company to continue paying the district’s debt obligations.[6]

“Allowing a corporation to control its own government is bad policy, especially when the corporation makes decisions that impact an entire region,” DeSantis said in a statement touting the end of the “corporate kingdom.[7]

0. “DeSantis Now Controls Disney World’s Special District—Here’s What That Means” Forbes, 27 Feb. 2023,

1. “Florida governor ends ‘corporate kingdom’ of Walt Disney World” Al Jazeera English, 27 Feb. 2023,

2. “DeSantis signs law stripping Disney World of Reedy Creek control” Orlando Sentinel, 27 Feb. 2023,

3. “DeSantis appoints well-connected Republicans to Reedy Creek board” Tampa Bay Times, 27 Feb. 2023,

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

5. “Florida Gov. DeSantis takes over Disney district on eve of book launch” USA TODAY, 27 Feb. 2023,

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

7. “DeSantis signs bill stripping Disney’s self-governing status” WPLG Local 10, 27 Feb. 2023,

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