A video is going viral on Instagram about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Walt Disney World Resort despite rampant inaccuracies. Here’s the video, and the facts.
A Wildly Inaccurate Viral Video
Step aside political commentary videos, there’s a new captain of misinformation. A new video has a conspiracy theory feel and is making the rounds. It’s garnered just shy of 38,000 likes at the time of writing but many, many, many more views. Several readers reached out to me about this video. Here it is:
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What Are The Facts?
As I told one reader, this video is about 4% accurate because it correctly named the Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, and Disney but it doesn’t even get the name of its district correct. Let me break it down piece by piece.
Claim 1: Ron DeSantis Takes Away Disney’s Special Status Over Child Grooming
It is true that Ron DeSantis went after Disney, yes. But the dispute goes back to COVID policies and Disney’s embrace of Pride month and Gay Days which is not a sanctioned Disney event. Disney challenged the Governor’s Parental Rights in Education bill, and was vocal about its disagreement with the legislation. This started a tit-for-tat which included Disney pulling plans to build a major corporate office building that was said to inject another $1bn into the economy but the Governor never said anything about child grooming. Also, the Governor may have supported the bill but ultimately it was the Florida State Senate that took action.
Claim 2: Disney Answers to the British Crown
Disney did manage some of its own facilities and public services (fire department, police, utilities) under a deal with the state called the “Reedy Creek District.” When Walt Disney was considering converting worthless Central Floridian swamp land into a job-creating juggernaut by adding a new theme park location, Florida was happy to woo Disney who wanted more control over its environment.
When Disney pulled its building development over the tiff with the Governor, he publicly retaliated with threatening to remove the special status and take back over the area. This was confusing for a number of reasons, principally because taking back over the area might bother Disney but its detrimental to the state as it now has to assume those roles and costs.
Reedy Creek, as an extension of Disney, has the right to use Disney signage and characters. Once it was clear the Senate would try to strip Reedy Creek of its power to manage itself, Disney lawyers aimed to strip the state of any remaining value left in the District and tie them up with meaningless entanglements. As such, the district voted to disallow the use of any Disney intellectual property to be used for an arbitrary and ridiculous period that wouldn’t expire until 21 years after the third descendent of King Charles III died. That’s just to annoy the state’s attorneys and defang the district.
The video creator claims it’s because Disney is actually owned by the British crown which makes it clear they didn’t bother to actually read ANY of the myriad articles on the topic including my blog post about it in April.
Claim 3: DeSantis Forced Disney To Reveal Its Deference To The Crown
Disney is publicly traded in the United States, not owned by the British crown. DeSantis didn’t force them to reveal anything, rather Disney attorneys are publicly trolling the State of Florida.
Claim 4: Florida Doesn’t Have Jurisdiction Because of the British Crown
Doubling down on the prior misunderstanding, the poster goes on to further mischaracterize the situation and claim that the crown owns the District and that’s the claim that it’s making but the District did no such thing. The land is not owned by the crown as the video states.
Claim 5: Disney World Is A Sovereign State
Continuing on the prior mistruths, the reviewer then surmises that because the crown owns territory in the United States it’s not subject to the laws and governing of the US. This is not just false for this case, but for so many others. Virtually governments (and royal families) own buildings in other sovereign territories but aside from Embassies and Consulates, these fall under the local government in which they reside.
Claim 6: As A Sovereign State, Disney Exempt From Federal Policies, Taxes
A simple review of Disney’s last 10-k filing would dispute the tax abatement claim. But the notion that it would be exempt from Federal laws, policies, and regulations is plainly stupid not just because this is patently false, but also because it would be Florida that the district would be trying to avoid, not federal policies.
Claim 7: Disney Is Just A Giant Charity To Avoid Taxes
Don’t tell its investors! Every corporation donates to causes in order to reduce its tax liability, and so do private citizens.
Claim 8: DeSantis Pulls Tax Exempt Status
The district wasn’t tax-exempt. DeSantis didn’t do this. There was nothing to do.
Claim 9: Disney Uses British Bill of Rights
Again, it’s the Reedy Creek District, not Disney. They don’t reference the British Bill of Rights. The video claims it is the British Bill of Rights of 1692 – a simple Google search shows they meant the Bill of Rights of 1689. It doesn’t mention sovereignty and certainly couldn’t mention King Charles III… because he was born nearly 300 years later. Again, this has nothing to do with the bill but rather was a facetious clause added by Reedy Creek management to complicate matters for the State.
Why Is This Going Viral Now?
This is all old news, why is it popping up now? Good question. This online sleuth created the video four days ago about something that happened at the end of March, yet for many who reached out to me hadn’t heard about it or didn’t recall it happening. For whatever reason, perhaps because of political temperament (we are through a second Republican presidential debate) perhaps people are looking for reasons to support or admonish candidates. Either way, it’s old news and this version is the craziest, least true evaluation of the Disney-DeSantis feud.
A viral video about the Disney World Resort-DeSantis battle has misinformed viewers with terribly thin research, no fact-checking, and frankly a dreamed-up dystopian view of a benign situation. Without knowledge of the situation, many may look at this video, and assume the creator of the video knows more than them (after all, they show actual articles in the video.) In this case, the creator chose not to actually read any of those articles, invented a situation and distributed the content. It’s not true. Don’t believe it, and please don’t believe what you watch.
What do you think?