On February 27, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that officially terminated the Reedy Creek Improvement District. He renamed it the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and put it under state control. The signing came after more than a year of back and forth between the controversial governor and The Walt Disney Company. It all started when Disney’s then-CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against the Parental Rights In Education Bill and devolved into an intense battle, with DeSantis ultimately stripping Disney of its self-governing power in the Sunshine State.
Those appointed by Ron DeSantis will now control everything that Reedy Creek used to control — including permitting, repairs, fire and police forces, and more. However, it looks like DeSantis may want to extend his power over Disney even further. It is being reported that DeSantis — by controlling the purse strings in Florida — wants to use the district’s new power to control what kind of content Disney creates.
According to a report from The Washington Post, Ron DeSantis and the Oversight Board want to use their power to force Disney into creating less “woke” content. Should Disney continue to make more inclusive content, the Board could make it difficult to get things done at Walt Disney World Resort.
“When you lose your way, you’ve got to have people that are going to tell you the truth,” DeSantis said. “So we hope they can get back on. But I think all of these board members very much would like to see the type of entertainment that all families can appreciate.”
The board doesn’t have direct power over the creative content Disney produces, such as movies and characters and rides. But because the new appointees hold purse strings over infrastructure projects, they could influence Disney’s decisions.
“They can decide to borrow money or not to fund projects, or they could decide not to expand infrastructure to allow projects to go forward,” said Aubrey Jewett, an associate professor of political science at the University of Central Florida.
As of right now, Disney has not responded to the threat posed to Walt Disney World should the company not change the content it makes, but it has been indicated that it will not fight the takeover in court. DeSantis has said that Disney will pay the massive debt Reedy Creek has, but, according to Florida law, when a special district is dissolved, the debt is passed onto the taxpayers. DeSantis has not said how he will force Disney to pay the debt when they are no longer legally required to.