If you’ve been keeping up with Disney World news over the past several months, then you’ve likely heard at least a little of the drama with the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
The Reedy Creek Improvement District was first established in 1968, allowing Disney World to operate as its own government, giving the property things like its own fire department, special taxing laws, and more power over the land it controls. After Disney spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Law (what critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill), a bill was introduced and quickly signed into law that will dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District in June 2023 unless a resolution is reached before then. So if Reedy Creek is abolished, what happens next?
According to the Orlando Sentinel, RCID is set to be dissolved on June 1st, 2023, but state leaders are saying that a new district will be created to take its place. According to state Sen. Linda Stewart, Disney doesn’t want to relinquish control of the district but may consent to state representation on the board.
“A lot of it is being done behind the scenes,” said Stewart, a Democrat representing Orlando. “The DeSantis group is trying to figure out how to look good. Disney is trying to protect the business model.” Right now, a board of five supervisors oversees Reedy Creek, and since Disney is the primary landowner, the company selects who sits on the board. This allows the district to “issue tax-free bonds, levy taxes, oversee land use and provide essential public services.”
“The bottom line is they will maintain control,” Stewart said about Disney. “Any changes that may be made will be superficial and will not interfere with the business that needs to be done through the Reedy Creek district. There is a lot at stake here.” Stewart expects that Republican lawmakers will make superficial changes, but will not fundamentally alter the way that Disney does business in Florida.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said back in May that he envisions taking control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, but hasn’t released a written proposal or any information about the plan to do so. “The path forward is, Disney will not control its own government in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said earlier this year. “Disney will have to follow the same laws that every other company has to follow in the state of Florida. They will pay their share of taxes, and they will be responsible for paying the debts.”
We’ll continue to watch this situation unfold in the coming months to see which way the results play out. It’s expected that the details of the new district will be hammered out during the next state legislative session that begins in March 2023. We’ll be looking for more news at that time.
Stay tuned to DFB for more updates on Reedy Creek, as well as any other major Disney World news. We’ll make sure you know anything that could affect your upcoming vacation.