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Disney World Social Media Ban Moves Forward, Guests Should Prepare

On Thursday, the Florida state senate passed a bill that would ban those 16 and under from using most social media apps. The legislation, which would impact thousands of Walt Disney World Resort guests, is awaiting a signature from Governor Ron DeSantis.

This is the most recent proposed law to impact the Central Florida Disney parks. After former Disney CEO Bob Chapek condemned DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education Act (“Don’t Say Gay”) last year, the former Republican presidential candidate launched political warfare on the “woke” corporation.

Credit: Ron DeSantis

It began with the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was created as part of a 1967 agreement between The Walt Disney Company and Florida lawmakers. It gave Walt Disney World Resort the right to control the municipal area around Magic Kingdom Park,  EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, the ESPN Wide World of Sports, and dozens of Disney Resort hotels.

DeSantis later hand-selected board members to control the area, which he renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. As the board passed COVID-19 restriction bans and took over Monorail inspections, Disney filed a lawsuit against DeSantis for retaliating against its First Amendment right to free speech. Weeks ago, a federal judge dismissed the case–the Mouse plans to appeal.

Family checking cell phone at Disney World
Credit: Disney

While the social media bill, HB 1, isn’t directed exclusively at Walt Disney World Resort, it would impact thousands of guests daily. The Florida Senate convened on Wednesday to reject an amendment allowing exemptions for those using social media for business.

“There is no ability for informed parental consent because the behemoth that is big tech — and five companies alone, they made over $222 billion in 2022 in revenues,” said State Senator Erin Grall, one of the bill’s sponsors. “I am challenged to find a parent that can keep up with what the power of that dollar is doing to take their child from them.”

Ron DeSantis giving a speech in front of the Florida flag
Credit: Ron DeSantis via Instagram

Platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and X (formerly known as Twitter) risk losing massive audiences in Florida. HB 1 doesn’t mention specific social media apps; instead, it lays out broad descriptions that would apply to many. It lists the following banned business practices:

  • Use of addictive, harmful, or deceptive design features or any other feature that is designed to cause an account holder to have an excessive or compulsive need to use or engage with the social media platform (such as autoplay or infinite scrolling)
  • Tracks the activity of an account holder, collects data, does targeted ad use, etc.

DeSantis initially supported the bill, stating:

“I think social media has been a net negative for our youth without question. Now, having said that, there have been other other states that have tried to do similar things that have met resistance in the courts, and not to say courts are always right about this, but I anything I do, I want a pathway for this to actually stick. So we’re going to look through that.”

However, once HB 1 headed to the Florida House, the conservative governor decided not to sign it.

A family of four looks at their phone while visiting Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World.
Credit: Disney

At a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he refused to sign the bill without revisions that gave parents a choice in their children’s social media use. As a parent, DeSantis explained, he felt the ban wasn’t practical.

“Parents need to have a role in this,” DeSantis said. “We’re working to make sure that there is a role for parents. You can say it’s disfavored or not allowed for a 14- or 15-year-old, but they have a right to opt in.”

The bill aims to halt the negative impacts of social media on minors’ mental health, but DeSantis felt it doesn’t adequately address some parents’ concerns.

Ron DeSantis with fireworks at Walt Disney World
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Disney CEO Bob Iger Fires Back at Ron DeSantis Claiming Disney “Sexualizes Children”

“I don’t think it’s there yet,” he explained. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get there in a way that I think answers the concerns that a lot of folks have.”

DeSantis didn’t address if a rewritten HB 1 would apply exclusively to Florida residents or tourists, including Walt Disney World Resort guests.

According to the United States Surgeon General, children who spend at least three hours on social media daily nearly double their risk of mental health issues.

Would you support a social media ban at Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney Springs? How would it impact your family vacations? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments.