At the end of February, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis officially signed the bill that dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. Reedy Creek was a special district created in the 1970s that basically allowed Walt Disney World Resort as its own government. The dissolution signing marked the end of a long and tiring battle between Governor DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company. The fight began last year when DeSantis felt Disney overstepped in voicing its opinion on a controversial bill passed in the state.
While the Reedy Creek name may no longer exist, the special district — and the board that runs it — still does. The board is now made up of those who were personally appointed by the governor. None of those on the board members have experience in the theme park industry, nor do they have experience running a district that will go to them for everything from permits to electricity needs, road construction, and more.
While things could become contentious between the board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District — the new name for Reedy Creek — and Disney, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro hopes that is not the case. D’Amaro recently spoke with the Orlando Business Journal and said that Disney, and Walt Disney World Resort in particular, have done a lot for Central Florida, and he hopes the board sees that.
In his interview, Josh D’Amaro said the following:
“The reality is we work with different people around the world at our different theme parks. So we know how to work with different people. For all those reasons, I have to look at the situation of where we are going — I believe in where we are going — and I hope the board sees the same.” It’s why he said he’s optimistic about the park’s future, and his message to the new board is that he hopes they understand the value the district and Disney create for the region and what’s needed to keep that going.
“If that new board understands the value that gets created here and how it positively impacts the Central Florida community, I think they will be aligned with our vision and will carry on the Reedy Creek soul that’s been in place,” he said.
While D’Amaro is choosing to keep a positive attitude, others are not so sure. Even though the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has nothing to do with Disney animation, Governor DeSantis has indicated that the board may try to get involved anyway. DeSantis is constantly criticizing Disney for being “woke” and has indicated that, if Disney does not create more content that DeSantis and the board approve of, they may tighten the purse strings when it comes to all parts of Walt Disney World Resort, including the four theme parks, Disney Springs, Disney Resort hotels, and the overall Disney experience.
Walt Disney World Resort president Jeff Vahle has indicated that Disney will not fight the takeover of Reedy Creek, nor has Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger. However, if things reach a certain level of discontent between the new board members and Disney, it’s possible that the Disney theme park could decide to reverse direction and fight for its independence once again.