Top Reedy Creek Official Leaves DeSantis’ New Tourism Board

John Classe Reedy Creek
John Classe Credit: Reedy Creek

On February 27, 2023, Disney World’s long-running Reedy Creek Improvement District was officially disbanded. In its place came the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The move came almost a year after the heated battle between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis began. The trouble started when ex-Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, a bill that DeSantis championed. DeSantis and his fellow Republican Florida lawmakers were quick to go after Disney World and strip it of its right to self-govern.

Merida gone Disney World

Credit: Disney

DeSantis hand-picked the new board overseeing Walt Disney World Resort and changed the name to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Since none of the new board members have experience working in the theme park industry, former Reedy Creek District Administrator, John Classe, agreed to a special consultant contract. His contract would remain in place through May 2024 or until the transition is complete. According to the CFTOD, the transition is complete, and Classe’s contract ended.

DeSantis Reedy Creek Investigation

Credit: RCID

Per a report from The Orlando Sentinel:

Classe’s last day was on Monday, said Alexei Woltornist, a district spokesman.

“Mr. Classe was offered a consulting contract … to assist with the transition to the new leadership,” he said in an email. “That transition is now complete. The district thanks him for his service.”

The contract allows Classe to resign or for the district to terminate the agreement early with or without reason. Examples of termination for reason include “a failure or refusal to comply with directives from the Board or Board designees,” or criminal or ethical violations.

The district did not answer questions about which party ended the contract and on what grounds.

Central Florida Tourism Oversight District

Credit: CFTOD

Back in May, the CFTOD hired Glen Gilzean as its new administrator. Gilzean had previously worked with Governor DeSantis, as the Chairman of his Ethics Committee. As District Administrator, Gilzean will be making $400,000 per year, about $45,000 more than Classe made in the same position. The new board says that it is because the position changed and Gilzean has to report to the governor.

Glen Gilzean Ron DeSantis

Credit: Central Florida Urban League

Gilzean and the Oversight District are currently embroiled in a lawsuit with Disney. Disney is suing both the Board and Governor DeSantis for punishing the company for exercising its right to free speech. The CFTOD is suing Disney because of a deal they made with Reedy Creek before the old board was disbanded. The deal would give Disney total decision-making power over Walt Disney World Resort until the death of the youngest living relative of King Charles.

Walt Disney Epcot Monorail

Credit: Disney

Disney has requested that a judge dismiss the lawsuit because DeSantis and the Board voted to have all deals between Disney and Reedy Creek voided. However, a judge denied Disney’s claim and said the board’s case deserved to be heard. Disney is currently writing a response to the judge’s decision. The board is currently paying for its lawyers to fight Disney by cutting $8 million from Disney World’s budget that was earmarked for security.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.