Are you ready to explore the inner workings of Disney World? A new bill in Florida has been proposed that could give Governor Ron DeSantis the power to appoint all five leaders of Disney’s special tax district in Orlando. This blog post will dive into the details of the bill, and explain why this could be a major shift in the way Disney World is run.
Disney World is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and has been since it opened in 1967. It’s been controlled by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which covers nearly 40 square miles in Orange and Osceola counties, including Disney World, EPCOT and other attractions. This district handles 911 calls, fire protection, the power grid, planning and land use decisions, road maintenance, mosquito abatement, flood control, and water quality. The district levies taxes on the landowners to support its operations and debt service.
The new legislation would reestablish the district under a new name, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. It would also provide that the five members of the district’s Board of Supervisors are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The law would bar anyone who has worked for Disney or other theme park operators within the past three years, and their relatives, from serving on the board. Under the current system, the Board of Supervisors is chosen by the landowners within the district, namely Disney and its affiliates, on a one-vote-per-acre basis.
The bill has been proposed in response to Disney’s criticism of a state law that restricts instruction on gender identity and sexual identity. Governor DeSantis and his allies have accused Disney of being a “woke” corporation, and have argued that the company should not enjoy special privileges that are not afforded to other companies in the state. Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged the issue in November, and said that he was not yet certain of the impacts of the dissolution, or of what steps Disney might take in response.
If this bill becomes law, it could face a legal challenge from Disney, who stands to lose control over a wide range of functions at its Orlando theme parks. Opponents also warn that local taxpayers could end up saddled with $1 billion in Disney debt. The law makes clear that those obligations will transfer to the new entity, which will also assume the powers previously granted to the Reedy Creek district.
This bill is a major development in the way Disney World is run, and could have far-reaching implications for the future of the park. Stay tuned to this blog for more updates on this story as it develops.