It’s Official: DeSantis Signs Disney District Takeover into Law

Disney World District
Credit: Governor Ron DeSantis

After almost a full year of drama, The Walt Disney Company’s Reedy Creek Improvement District is officially no more.

On Monday, February 27, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill immediately terminating the special Disney World District and rebranding it the state-controled Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

Reedy Creek Improvement District Map

The governor made it a point to sign the bill on Walt Disney World Property, at the Reedy Creek Fire Station No. 4. Disney World’s personal first-responders have put their support behind the governor both in his re-election bid in November 2022 and in his decision to support Tallahassee’s takeover.

“Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end,” said DeSantis. “My signature will also impose Florida Law on this area just as it’s imposed on Universal Studios and Sea World, and all these other places, and this bill and the structure we have created in this bill will ensure that the municipal debt that’s been wrapped up will be paid by Disney and not by Florida taxpayers.”

“This is what accountability looks like. This is what standing up for Florida taxpayers, and the rule of law looks like. And I am really happy that the Florida Legislature was able to do this.”

You can watch the signing here.

This most pressed-upon change between the Reedy Creek Improvement District and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has been who is in charge of it. Since its creation in 1967, Reedy Creek has been run by a five-person Board of Supervisors that were essentially hand-picked by The Walt Disney Company. Now, those five people will be nominated by the Governor and approved by Florida’s State Senate. But this bill will do much more.

“My signature will also end Disney’s exemption from the Florida Building Code and Florida Fire Prevention Code,” the Governor stated. “It will end Disney’s exemption from State regulatory reviews and approval. It will end Disney’s secrecy by finally ensuring transparency about what goes on in this area. It will ensure Disney pays its fair share of taxes. It will prevent local governments dominated by leftist politicians from using this situation to raise local taxes.”

“There will be no additional tax burden on any Floridian in Central Florida or otherwise,” he added. “I’m confident that this is going to vindicate the best interests of the State of Florida.”

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Governor DeSantis has selected his nominees:

“Bridget Ziegler, a member of the Sarasota County School Board and a supporter of Moms for Liberty; Seminole County attorney Michael Sasso; attorney Martin Garcia of Tampa as chairman; Ron Peri, CEO of The Gathering USA, a ministry that focuses on faith and culture; and Clearwater attorney Brian Aungst.”

Kickstarted by Disney’s dissent towards the Parental Rights in Education Bill, Florida lawmakers brought to light that Disney’s special district did not fit under the ratified State Constitution. Opportunism then took hold in Tallahassee as both the House of Representatives and Sentate passed an initial bill to terminate the unconstitutional district by June 1, 2023, and then this latest secondary bill to restructure it with nearly supermajority support.

Disney Reedy Creek

Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle has stated that they will not fight this new bill, and that they stand ready to work with Tallahasee for the best possible situation for everybody. Returning Disney CEO Bob Iger has not commented publically on this matter.

About T.K. Bosacki

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, TK Bosacki is a professional writer, amateur adventurer, and lifelong Disney Fanatic. His Disney Park days include Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Nomad Lounge. He believes in starting at the Canada pavilion (IYKYK), and the Monorail is superior to all Ferry Boats.

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