Disney, with help from lawyers who were unaware of who their client was, and shell companies, was able to acquire the 27,000 acres that make up Disney World for only $5 million dollars, a bargain even in 1965. Once the land was secured, the campaign for total control over the area began, as is explained in this video from City Beautiful.
Disney petitioned the Florida legislature for a special district that would allow the corporation control over sewage, roads, building permits, and many other facets of municipal control in the area. They got it, and in 1967, the Reedy Creek Improvement District was created.
This district, including the two municipalities inside it, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, give the corporation an unprecedented level of control. Only landowners in the district can vote to on governance for the district, thus giving Disney the upper hand in decision making. The powers granted are far-reaching--for example, Disney can issue their own liquor licenses to themselves. They largely do not use surrounding counties infrastructure, instead building their own water, fire departments, transportation, and emergency services.
Disney World is what it looks like if you give a corporation full control over an area of land as big as San Francisco.
Why Disney World Has Its Own Government | Popular Mechanics
Monday, January 15, 2018
Disney World Has It's Own Government