Central Florida Puppets: How Disney Controlled Its Crony Kingdom

Disney Reedy Creek

As Walt Disney World Resort Cast Members, fans, and Guests wait with bated breath to see how the Florida State Government plans to eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District’s autonomy, let’s take a look at how that “self-government” operated.

Reedy Creek Improvement District

Credit: Orlando Business Journal

Where one would expect to find legitimate communities of landowners, we instead find what is essentially a mini-puppet state of one of the largest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world with towns existing in name only and a small, unique government populated by men and women essentially hand-picked by their parent company.

In an article published in the Orlando Sentinel, which includes an interview with Sam Gennawey, author of “Walt and the Promise of Progress City,” it states,

Reedy Creek board members are elected to four-year terms by the landowners. The thing is, Disney owns almost all of the land in the district.

Because board members also must be landowners, Disney awards them a small tract of undeveloped property with an understanding it will be returned when members leave the board.

Those selected to serve on the Reedy Creek board typically have close ties to Disney and are friendly to the corporation’s interests, Gennawey said.

The five-person Board of Supervisors consists of the son of an important Orlando banker and former board member, a former Disney Company employee who worked in public relations, an architect, and engineer, and one man who has sat on the board since 1975.

For 55 years, this system has yielded some of the best urban planning and innovation that has been seen anywhere in the country. But when the latest Florida State Constitution was ratified just one year after Reedy Creek’s creation, none of the proper steps were followed to ensure that the special district was amended to return under the law of the land. And this was the angle that a highly-defensive state government was able to use to dissolve Disney’s special district by this summer.

Time for New People on Reedy Creek’s Board

DeSantis, Reedy Creek

Related: Disney World Fire Department Supports State Takeover of Reedy Creek

While most point to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law as the catalyst for this “attack” on Mickey Mouse, a small step back will show that it was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. Since the start of the Pandemic, political tensions have spiked and pitted an ever-growing conservative republican Florida against an ultra-left California. Governor Ron DeSantis and his state legislatures seek to eliminate any outside influence on Floridians from California and its corporations like Disney. On top of that The Walt Disney Company also continues to be accused of being in bed with another entity Governor DeSantis has declared an enemy of “The Free State of Florida,” the Chinese Communist Party.

The Walt Disney Company

Related: From a Stockholder: 3 Problems The Walt Disney Company Needs to Fix NOW

 No one involved is saying that Walt Disney World Resort is an evil enemy of Florida. After all, it is a huge cash cow for the entire state and the Governor himself was married at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa! It has been said time and time again that the district will remain intact and almost all investors and speculators agree that operations within the boundaries of Reedy Creek will continue as normal.

While there will be other changes to the Reedy Creek Improvement Act–like the ability to put a nuclear power plant on property–this legislation’s decision comes down to the Board members in charge of the massive territory. Who do they answer to? The Government and residents of the State in which they are located or an out-of-state entity that is ready to use its foothold to undermine that State’s laws, its Constitution, and the will of its people? That appears to be a question that the State of Florida never wants to worry about asking again.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s and may not reflect the sentiments of Disney Fanatic as a whole.

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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