Years ago, Orlando was pretty much a one-mouse town.

Disney pulled the strings, and the politicians were puppets.

Whatever Disney wanted, it got — from roads to special legislation granting the company governmentlike powers.

The allegiance helped Orlando emerge as one of the world’s leading vacation destinations.

But somewhere along the way, Orlando grew up.

Tired of being viewed as local yokels beholden to the only game in town, leaders developed spines.

They knew tourism alone wouldn’t provide a sustainable economy. So, occasionally, the politicians told Disney no. Sometimes they even got in Mickey Mouse’s face.

Once, former Mayor Bill Frederick grew so tired of Disney taking more than it gave that he flew to Disney’s headquarters in California, threatening to tell the world that the Happiest Place on Earth was also the stingiest when it came to helping the community it called home.

Suddenly, Disney was overwhelmed with a desire to give back … and the Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola was born.

Click here for the Orlando Sentinel story

Hardball politics are back at Disney
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