With the start of a new year, Walt Disney World is once again handing out exclusive — and free — annual passes to select civic and business leaders across Central Florida. Orlando's other large parks dole out similar perks. Disney once sent the VIP passes, which it has been distributing for more than 30 years, to dozens of public officials, ranging from county commissioners to state legislators. That prompted criticism from watchdog groups that Disney, which spends millions of dollars annually on political contributions and lobbyists, was using the free passes as yet another means with which to curry favor with decision-makers.
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