February 12, 2023
Last year Disney waged political war with the state of Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis and has suffered an overwhelming defeat. The company has officially lost control of their Reedy Creek Development - First devised as an unprecedented agreement with Disney to allow it to act unilaterally in business development within the 25,000 acre park with limited government oversight.
The decision to dissolve Reedy Creek's original management was finalized after a landslide senate vote this week to appoint a new governing board.
Disney has stated that it does not plan to fight the state ruling in court, probably because they know it is a losing battle. The new entity, dubbed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, will be operated by a five-member board appointed by DeSantis and confirmed by the state Senate. The move effectively gives DeSantis power over operations including collecting taxes.
Disney World is set to rely even more on its theme park revenues as its movies and streaming service continue to flounder.
The entertainment behemoth engaged in a fight with the Florida citizenry and DeSantis in early 2022 over Bill HB 1557 (The Parental Rights In Education Bill) which was signed into law last March. The law prevents Florida public schools from targeting young children and teaching gender identity ideology or sexualized propaganda; it also requires that teachers inform parents of their lesson plans and subject matter for Grades K-3.
Florida has been leading the pack in terms of states removing far-left rhetoric from classrooms, including trans propaganda and Critical Race Theory propaganda planted in school textbooks. The concepts, which have no basis in scientific or historic fact, have nonetheless become an epidemic in American education, with many teachers focusing almost solely on social justice ideals rather than basic academics. State opposition is late, but better late than never.
Disney, a major corporate element of Florida's economy, became a vocal opponent of HB 1557, calling it the "don't say gay bill" (it's more accurate to call it the "anti-grooming bill").
Disney sided with leftist activists and promised to use the company's extensive power to force a repeal of the law. CEO Bob Chapek swore fealty to the woke movement in a speech given during an employee conference at the onset of tensions with Florida. Chapek was recently fired and replaced by a returning Bob Iger.
The problem is that the law is supported by a majority in the Florida government as well as a majority of voters. Floridians voted overwhelmingly to keep DeSantis as governor and conservative candidates dominated in district elections last year.
Leftists argued that HB 1557 was "unconstitutional", but this suggests a considerable lack of understanding.
Teachers as employees of the state do not have unfettered free speech rights in the classroom and are required to teach a specific curriculum. Ideological zealotry and sexual propaganda are not a part of that curriculum, and teachers can be punished with the loss of their jobs for ignoring those standards.
This was the norm in education for decades - Only in recent years has it been suggested that teachers paid with tax dollars are somehow immune to oversight. Leftist educators continue to insist that their rights are being violated and that they should be able to teach whatever they want, which apparently includes sharing the sexual details of their personal lives.
Leftists also argue that the actions against Reedy Creek violate Disney's free speech rights. However, they fail to recognize that Disney as a company is not entitled to special treatment from Florida's government. Reedy Creek was a special allowance, a favor to Disney that can just as easily be taken away.
Why Disney chose gender identity politics and sexualized lessons for kindergarten children as the hill to die on is hard to say, but with the loss of Reedy Creek they have learned a valuable lesson. ESG-style corporate governance is now under scrutiny in conservative run states, and payback is a bitch.