Fifth Third Bank funding anti-LGBTQ schools again, rising ticket prices at Disney, and other Orlando news you might have missed

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Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World Photo via Adobe Stock

'Plastic monster' trolling Florida Publix stores to highlight the retailer's plastics problem: A group of Greenpeace activists and citizens brought a 15-foot tall "plastic monster" to the state capitol in Tallahassee last week, to spread awareness about plastic pollution. While Florida's favorite local grocery store, Publix, continues to maintain single-use plastic within their facilities, as well as financially support laws that prevent Florida's cities and counties from implementing a ban on plastic bags and other single-use items, Greenpeace is traveling through the state to highlight Publix's lack of attention to the issue.

PETA takes credit for SeaWorld ending 'dolphin surfing' shows: SeaWorld confirmed they will be phasing out "dolphin surfing" from their shows entirely, and PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is taking credit. Last August, PETA filed an abuse complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the practice, and included five "damnable photos," showing visible wounds on dolphin's noses, which the organization attributed to dolphins lifting trainers up with their faces. But that's not the only way PETA has influence over SeaWorld. Unbeknownst to many, PETA owns stock in SeaWorld, holding enough shares as of 2013 to have a voice in shareholder meetings.

Fifth Third Bank reverses course on voucher program to anti-LGBTQ private schools: Fifth Third Bank last week confirmed it will resume contributions to the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, after previously saying it would stop contributing over concerns about vouchers going to schools with anti-LGBTQ policies. The bank said it would support the program again following a "comprehensive review" and "detailed conversations" with the management of the organization that administers the program. The bank's initial decision to end contributions came after an investigation found more than 83 religious schools that accepted vouchers for low-income students had policies explicitly barring gay students from enrolling. More than $105 million from the program, which is funded by corporations that receive state tax credits in exchange for their contributions, went to campuses with anti-LGBTQ policies last year, the report found.

Hey, Florida: Feb. 18 is the deadline to register to vote, or change parties, before the primaries: If it's worth arguing about on social media, it's worth voting for. Don't just be a slacktivist. The Presidential Preference Primary Election is March 17, and the deadline to register or change your party affiliation is Tuesday, Feb. 18. Since Florida has a closed primary, voters will only be able to nominate representatives who are affiliated with their party. In other words, voters without a party affiliation are not able to vote for candidates who identify with a political party, such as Republican or Democratic candidates. To register, you must be a Florida resident who is at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen with intact civil rights.

Expect ticket price increases at Disney World, along with a possible overhaul of FastPass+: As with death and taxes, increases in ticket prices at Disney World are inevitable. If past trends tell us anything, Disney will be increasing their ticket prices again sometime within the next few weeks, but this year the change might point to something bigger. According to some insiders, most notably Martin Smith on the WDWMagic forums, after years of trying to work out the kinks with FastPass+, there is now an understanding that unforeseen flaws with the program and its corresponding app may never be adequately addressed. This has apparently led some within the company to advocate for cutting its losses and moving forward without the current system.

This story appears in the Feb. 12, 2020, print issue of Orlando Weekly. Stay on top of Central Florida news and views with our weekly Headlines newsletter.

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