GOP bill seeks to eliminate ‘no-fly zones’ over Disney theme parks

A new House bill aims to remove state-approved “no-fly zones” over Walt Disney Co.’s theme parks in the United States, including Disneyland in Anaheim.

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) introduced the bill Monday with six GOP co-sponsors. including Doug LaMalfa from Northern California and Lauren Boebert from Colorado.

The legislation, House Resolution 8042, would direct Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to repeal the Federal Aviation Authority’s “Notices to Airmen,” or NOTAMs, which have banned flights over Disney theme parks since 2003.

In May, Nehls accused Buttigieg and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) of “apparent favoritism for the Walt Disney Company” and sent letters urging them to reconsider the no-fly zones over the parks he said that they are the only parks to benefit from the restriction.

“The principle of fairness requires that the federal government not favor any organization over another or impose flight restrictions in favor of a favored organization,” Nehls wrote in the letter. He said the company is using the restrictions to “eliminate banner ads and disruptive aircraft from its parks.”

The bill also marks the GOP’s latest attempt to undermine Disney after the company opposed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ so-called Don’t Say Gay bill, said Aubrey Jewett, a professor of political science at the University of Central Florida. This bill bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

“It may not be the only reason, but I think it’s certainly the number one reason this Republican congressman from Texas is bringing it up now,” Jewett said. “It’s not like anything has changed dramatically in terms of safety, other than that Disney has opposed a conservative bill here in Florida.”

Disney officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In his letter, Nehls said the grounding was a restriction of freedom and should be reserved for national security matters.

“Measures to protect our national security and public safety must not be taken on by companies that want to make a profit,” he said.

Jewett said Disney’s no-fly zone was granted after 9/11, when it was “not unreasonable” to think that the “happiest place on earth” could be a target. However, he also noted that a 2003 Orlando Sentinel investigation found that the protections had been enforced by at least one Disney lobbyist.

Though it might be worth rethinking the rules as they near the 20-year mark, Jewett said the latest move was less about safety concerns and more about “doing something tangible to go after Disney.”

“Given that it now seems like some sort of litmus test, ‘support the Don’t Say Gay Bill,’ I don’t really see it moving forward while the Democrats are running the House,” he added. GOP bill seeks to eliminate ‘no-fly zones’ over Disney theme parks

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