It’s Official, DeSantis’ Disney Board Scraps Firefighters’ Perks

DeSantis' Disney Board Scraps Firefighters' Perks
Credit: Disney

After making a referral to the Florida Inspector General for what it called a “scheme” to defraud taxpayers, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has finally come to a settlement with the Reedy Creek Firefighters and their benefits at Walt Disney World. Instead of giving the money to Disney World for the benefits, the Board has decided to give it directly to the employees.

reedy creek

Images Credit: Disney, National Urban League

At their meeting this week, the Board appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis gave the Reedy Creek Firefighters a $3,000 stipend to use however they chose. Before this, Reedy Creek Improvement District employees received season passes to Walt Disney World, but they also received discounts for merchandise, hotel rooms, and food at Disney World.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s issue was with a bill for $2.5 million from Disney World for employee perks. The employees would receive the passes and discounts directly from Disney, and  Disney would then bill the Board for those discounts.

But as the dust from that initial storm started to clear, this wasn’t a “scheme” as described by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Still, instead, it was an employee benefit that all employees received and was even available to retirees of the District.

CFTOD Reedy Creek Corporate Cronyism

Credit: Disney

Under this new plan, the money would cover season passes for a family of four; however, the employees would no longer receive the discounts formerly available to them. The Board clarified that these benefits will sunset in two years unless reauthorized by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

According to Disney’s website, the new amount would only cover the cost of Disney World’s Pirate Pass, with certain dates blacked out. In order to purchase passes that have no blackout dates, Reedy Creek employees would purchase the Disney Incredi-Pass, which would cost $1,399 per adult. The new stipend would only cover two passes.

Disney World Annual Pass Magnet EPCOT

All Images Credit Disney

After the Board initially eliminated the perks, Reedy Creek Firefighter Pete Simon told the Board:

We have retirees who worked their entire careers and earned this benefit for the rest of their lives. When the District changed hands last year, we were told that our jobs and our benefits were safe. We were promised that this new administration was going to make this place better. All we’ve seen and heard is cuts. Cuts to budgets, cuts to staffing, cuts to maintenance, and now cuts to benefits. This week marks the first brick being pulled in the dismantling of the district … my only question is, what’s next?

Cuts to employees’ theme park perks are just the beginning of how the CFTOD is remaking the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has cut $8 million in funding from security at Disney World, cut $3 million in road improvements to pay for legal fees in its cases against Disney, and, in August, cut all DEI programs and race-based hiring programs in the former Reedy Creek District.

The Board members, appointed by Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, are still working out how employees will receive the stipend and, if they so choose, how to purchase the season passes from Walt Disney World.

The Walt Disney Company has a contentious relationship with the new Board, and both are currently suing each other in State Court. At the same meeting, the Board approved its new budget, which includes $4.5 million in legal fees for its battle with Disney.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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