What Is the Reedy Creek Agreement? Entertainment vs. Politics

The intersection between entertainment and politics has always been present. What is the Reedy Creek agreement? Here's what we know.


Apr. 27 2023, Updated 12:48 p.m. ET

Walt Disney sign and Governor Ron DeSantis
Source: Getty Images

The Reedy Creek agreement is a case of Disney vs. DeSantis

The intersection between entertainment and politics has always been present. The two have often played a timeless cat-and-mouse game where the other is usually made out to be the villain. The Walt Disney Company has faced its own bouts of backlash from political leaders and followers of their parties, and the state of Florida has been considered politically troubled for some time.

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Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been a controversial politician. His policies and official action have resulted in great backlash. Tensions have heated up over the "Don't Say Gay Bill," "Don't Say Period Bill," and the abortion ban. Now, DeSantis has set himself at odds against The Walt Disney Company over Reedy Creek territory and his threat to build a prison next to Disney World in Orlando.

What is the Reedy Creek agreement, and why does DeSantis want to end Reedy Creek?

What is the Reedy Creek agreement?

The Reedy Creek Improvement Act was first approved in 1967 and allowed any land surrounding Walt Disney World in Orlando to be considered its property through government authority. This granted The Walt Disney Company the same privileges and responsibilities over the land that would be bestowed on a country's government. Essentially, Disney was given complete control over the land around the theme park. Florida Governor Claude R. Kirk, Jr. signed the agreement, permitting the motion.

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Since then, the long-withstanding bill has been viewed as virtually constitutional. In the past, Disney has petitioned to build their own city through a city planning committee, but these plans, which were initially Walt Disney's vision, were later abandoned by The Walt Disney Company. The Reedy Creek Improvement District implies special tax rules that would tax Reedy Creek as if it were Disney's own nation while providing it with public services and amenities.

DeSantis took it upon himself to sign an act created by the Florida Legislature in April 2022 that would ultimately abolish and dismantle The Reedy Creek Improvement District. The act has passed and is set to take full effect as a law in June 2023. Once the act is a law, it will strip away any legality of the agreement.

DeSantis has been floating the idea of building a prison on Reedy Creek ground.

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Although Disney appealed for the law to be repealed or struck down, they haven't been successful. Disney did, however, file a lawsuit against DeSantis on April 26, 2023, alleging the Republican "orchestrated a "targeted campaign of government retaliation" against the company that violates Disney's free speech rights," Fox Business reported.

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DeSantis reportedly dismissed the lawsuit, saying it lacks merit. The Florida governor believes Disney shouldn't get "favorable treatment from the government."

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Why does Governor DeSantis want to end Reedy Creek?

Ron DeSantis speaking at the Midland Republican Dave Camp Spring Breakfast on April 6, 2023.
Source: Getty Images

DeSantis's override of The Reedy Creek Agreement transforms it into the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. According to CBS News, the choice to discontinue the agreement comes after Disney issued support for the LGBTQIA+ community. DeSantis has been a vocal opponent of the queer community, essentially wanting to erase any non-cisgender or heterosexual identity from the public eye.

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"At DeSantis's urging, lawmakers last year decided to dissolve Reedy Creek and five other special districts across the state after Disney angered the governor by opposing the controversial 'Parental Rights in Education Law,' which critics labelled 'Don't say gay,' which bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and lessons deemed not age-appropriate," CBS News reports. The ramifications against Disney follow their opposition to the law.

For those affected by the Don't Say Gay Bill or who may know those at risk can reach out to The Trevor Project for support. This LGBTQIA+ centric organization offers resources for youth struggling with mental health issues and is completely free to use.

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