Could a feature that is critical to how Disney World operates be in jeopardy? Well, the threat against it has certainly become more real.
Not too long ago, we shared about how a Florida representative had indicated that some meetings had been held regarding the potential repeal of the Reedy Creek Improvement District — the district that essentially lets Disney act as its own county and govern its own land. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida then indicated that he would be open to suggestions on this idea of a repeal, and we shared how a repeal of the District could significantly impact Disney World’s operations. Now, what started as an idea and meetings has turned into something much more real.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Governor Ron DeSantis has indicated that he will be expanding the special session of the Florida Legislature, which started Tuesday. What exactly will Governor DeSantis be expanding the special session to include? Well, during the special session the Legislature will now be able to consider “eliminating the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) is a special district that was created back in 1967. It is crucial to how Disney operates in Florida. In essence, it allows Disney to operate as its own county government when it comes to controlling the land it owns in Florida on which it operates its theme parks.
One political analyst indicated that the repeal of the RCID would be “a disaster for Disney.”
Governor DeSantis said, “I am announcing today that we are expanding the call of what they are going to be considering this week…so yes, they will be considering their congressional map. But they also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968. And that includes the Reedy Creek Improvement District.” (Orlando Sentinel)
DeSantis also gave his thanks to House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson for their efforts in “stepping up and making sure that we make the sunset or the termination on those special districts happen, which I think is very important.” (Orlando Sentinel)
In addition to congressional reapportionment, this week's special session will include termination of legacy special districts and removal of exemptions from the big tech accountability law. pic.twitter.com/67sF4E113I
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) April 19, 2022
All of this follows the conflict experienced between Disney and DeSantis when it comes to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Act (the Parental Rights in Education Bill). When the bill was signed into law, Disney issued a statement indicating that the bill never should have been passed or signed, and that their goal would be for the bill to be repealed. Disney also paused all political contributions in the state. Governor DeSantis indicated that Disney’s response to the bill, specifically their comments that they would be working to repeal the law, “crossed a line.”
Will Florida’s legislature ultimately be successful in repealing the Reedy Creek Improvement District? It’s unclear. As we had previously shared, Senator Linda Stewart, a Democratic Senator in the Florida Senate, has said “I don’t see how in the world he’s going to be able to dismantle it…It would never get through the Senate and it’s unlikely to get through the House.” (WFTV 9 ABC)
Former Republican State Representative Bobby Olszewski also said “This seems like saber rattling in order to draw some headlines…I can tell you they [meaning Disney] have done a lot for our state and for our local community, so it is surprising that this is something that is coming up right now.” (WFTV 9 ABC)
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation and will share more news with you.