Florida mulls U-turn on move to strip Disney theme-parks of self-governing status – FT

Dec 02, 2022
FILE PHOTO: Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando

(Reuters) – Florida lawmakers are mulling plans to reverse a move that would strip Walt Disney Co of its right to operate a private government around its famous theme-parks, the Financial Times reported on Friday, citing people briefed on the plan.

In April, lawmakers had given their final approval to a bill ending Walt Disney’s designation as a self-governing entity, in an apparent response to its opposition to a state law limiting the teaching of LGBTQ issues in schools.

The new law would also mean that Disney would have to pay more taxes, state governor Ron DeSantis had said in April when he signed the bill.

The state lawmakers are working on a compromise that would allow Disney to keep the arrangement largely in place with a few modifications, the FT report said.

A spokesperson at DeSantis’ office said that the governor “does not make U-turns,” but added that a plan was in the works and would soon be released.

“We will have an even playing field for businesses in Florida, and the state certainly owes no special favors to one company. Disney’s debts will not fall on taxpayers of Florida.”

The FT report added that the return of Bob Iger as CEO last month could help pave the way for a resolution on the law.

The bill signed in spring this year by DeSantis eliminates special governing jurisdiction that allowed the company to operate Walt Disney World Resort as its own city.

Disney had condemned Florida’s LGBTQ legislation dubbed as “don’t say gay” bill by critics, which bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through third grade.

Disney did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Akanksha Khushi and Jahnavi Nidumolu in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Rhea Binoy; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil and Shailesh Kuber)