Florida Republicans released legislation allowing Gov. DeSantis to rename the district and appoint five leaders of Disnely’s Orlando tax district.
DeSantis Keeps His Promise to Disney
Florida lawmakers are expected to pass legislation as soon as this week that would overhaul the special district that oversees Walt Disney World by giving Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) power to appoint its board, the culmination of a long-running battle between DeSantis and Disney after the media giant criticized Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law.
The Legislature passed a bill last spring to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which covers nearly 40 square miles (roughly 25,000 acres) in Orange and Osceola counties, including Disney World, EPCOT, and other attractions.
Disney has controlled the district since its inception in 1967.
Here’s What Might Change
According to an article from the Daily Wire:
DeSantis’ office said that the legislation:
- Permanently eliminates Disney’s self-governing status.
- Imposes a state-controlled, term-limited board – with members appointed by the governor – on Disney and its property.
- Allows the state to impose taxes on Disney for possible road projects outside of the District’s boundaries.
- Ensures that Disney pays the $700+ million in unsecured debt – not Florida taxpayers.
- Provides no control of the district to the leftist local government in Orange County, which threatened to leverage the situation to raise local taxes.
- Imposes Florida law so that Disney is no longer given preferential treatment.
- Prevents Disney from gaining more land by eminent domain.
- Creates an avenue to compel Disney to contribute to local infrastructure.
DeSantis’ office also released a list of some of the powers that Disney previously had when they governed themselves:
- Full self-governing status with a Disney-selected board.
- The ability to build airports and nuclear facilities.
- Acquisition of property beyond the District’s territory by condemnation and eminent domain.
- Unilateral boundary changes.
- No-bid procurements of construction contracts.
- Operating standards that varied from Florida Statute.
- Exemptions from regulatory reviews and approvals that other companies must navigate.
Disney and Florida
Disney owns approximately 25,000 acres of land in Florida, primarily in the Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake areas.
This land includes the Walt Disney World Resort, which includes four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom), as well as multiple resorts, shopping and dining areas, and entertainment venues.
In addition to the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney owns several other properties in Florida, including the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district.
Under the current proposal, Reedy Creek would be renamed the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.”
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