Two days after being filed, new legislation that will strip The Walt Disney Company of its power over the Reedy Creek Improvement District has been approved to go before the Florida Legislature.
According to the Orlando Sentinel,
“Florida lawmakers moved forward Wednesday with a state overhaul of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District as Gov. Ron DeSantis vows to end the special status the entertainment giant has enjoyed in Florida since 1967…The bill, part of a two-week special session called by Florida leaders, will be taken up by the full House on Thursday and then head to the Senate, where it’s expected to pass.”
“To all that visit the park, nothing has changed; day to day it will be the same,” bill sponsor Rep. Fred Hawkins of St. Cloud said before the House State Affairs committee.
The legislation was reportedly passed by an overwhelmingly supportive House committee with a slightly bipartisan vote.
As we stated in our previous coverage, the most significant changes to the district will be what it is called and who is going to be in charge. Because The Walt Disney Company owns almost all of the land within the district boundaries, they have essentially been able to hand-pick who is in charge of the Central Florida property that is twice the size of Manhattan Island and most famously holds the Walt Disney World Resort. Once this new bill is passed into law, the district will be called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, and its five-member Board of Supervisors will consist of Florida residents appointed by the Governor–in this case, Governor Ron DeSantis–and approved by a Senate vote.
“We are putting them on an equal playing field with … competitors in the tourism industry,” Hawkins said. “This takes away special advantages they’ve had for the past 50 years or more.”
This law will also take away several privileges it once held. Those lost privileges will include the authority to have an airport and nuclear power plant on the property, as well as maintain toll roads and use eminent domain to acquire land beyond the district lines.
“There’s a new sheriff in town,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “And that’s just the way it’s going to be.”
Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle released a statement on Monday, saying that they are monitoring the legislation’s progress, but it is still unclear whether or not The Mouse House will put up a fight. At the time of this article’s publication, there has not been an official word from Disney CEO Bob Iger on the matter.