Florida lawmakers approved a bill which is making changes to Disney’s Reedy Creek Special Administrative District, including replacing its Board of Supervisors and giving it a new name.
Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill.
The new legislation, which repeals an earlier proposal to entirely dissolve the district, will keep the main operating procedures of the region intact. One such proceeding concerns the District’s ability to raise taxes and issue bonds to build and maintain infrastructure serving the Walt Disney World Resort.
“In terms of the day-to-day operation of the district, it doesn’t look like much is going to change,” said Aubrey Jewett, associate professor and vice principal at the University of Central Florida.
Biggest change: DeSantis will now be able to appoint all five district board members, subject to state senate approval. Previously, Disney had de facto control of the board as the largest landowner in the district.
DeSantis demanded greater authority over the district following his feud with Disney. The governor’s actions were prompted in part by the media and entertainment giant expressing objections to DeSantis’ bill to restrict teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity to students in the state. from kindergarten to third grade.
And the district will be renamed: Reedy Creek Special Improvement District to Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.
The DeSantis administration called the new legislation necessary, saying in a statement that the district has historically “conferred extraordinary special privileges on a single corporation.”
“Until Governor DeSantis acted, The Walt Disney Company retained sole control of the district,” a spokesperson for the governor said in a statement. “That power amounted to an irresponsible Corporate Kingdom. Florida is dissolving the Corporate Kingdom and ushering in a new era of accountability and transparency.”
Disney is monitoring the legislation, Jeff Vahle, chairman of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement.
“Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for the millions of Guests who visit each year,” said Vahle.
Disney recently announced the layoffs of 7,000 employees as part of a vast restructuring. But construction still appears to be progressing on a Disney office campus in Lake Nona, about 20 miles east of Disney World. According to the Orlando Business Journal, Disney recently filed a zoning application for a master plan for the campus, which is expected to house 2,000 jobs.