Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (“RCID”) is just a few months away from being officially dissolved and some BIG changes could be on the way.
The RCID, which essentially functions as its own county government, has given Disney a lot of control over the land on which it operates in Orlando. But, following Disney’s statements against the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill, the Florida legislature passed a law that will dissolve the RCID in June of 2023. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has insisted that a state-controlled board will take over and Disney will NOT be allowed to control its own government, but not all of Disney’s self-governance might end in Florida.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Chad Emerson the writer behind “Project Future: The Inside Story Behind the Creation of Disney World” has indicated that Disney could retain some of its self-governing powers through the 2 cities it controls — Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake.
According to Emerson, the cities actually delegated government powers to the RCID. But they could “conceivably” take them back, should Disney want them to do so.
Emerson shared, “If the state appoints the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the cities could elect to disengage from the district…They knew what they were doing in 1968, and they definitely had contingencies.”
The Sentinel points out that Florida politicians seem to have generally ignored these two cities, but “Disney firmly controls them as company towns.” Combined, the cities have a population of about 53. The residents are typically workers or retirees (and their families) from Disney or Reedy Creek.
The residents of these towns elect a “city council and mayor, all of whom are friendly to Disney.” The Sentinel also points out that, importantly, “[m]ost of the developed land in Reedy Creek is within the borders of Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake.”
So perhaps this is the “loophole” (of sorts) that could help Disney retain some sense of self-governance, though it would NOT be the same as under the current RCID arrangement.
What will happen with the RCID remains to be seen. Christopher Goodman, a professor of public administration at Northern Illinois University, shared with the Sentinel that legislators do have the ability to alter the governance structure of the RCID and there are some districts that operate with board members who are appointed. It certainly seems that a state-appointed board is what DeSantis is seeking for this area based on his recent statements.
The Sentinel points out that if the state leaves the RCID essentially intact but replaces the district’s governing board, that could avoid potential issues with the RCID’s outstanding debt, which is estimated to be around $1 billion.
A DeSantis spokesperson has indicated that the governor expects a special session next week will address the RCID. But, as of Friday, February 3rd, no bill on the matter had been filed.
Sam Gennawey, author of “Walt and the Promise of Progress City,” has indicated that Disney could work within the limits of having the state in charge of the RCID.
But, he warns, “You would just see a little less innovation. You’d see a little slower growth. You’d see them sitting on a lot of assets they already have and not being in a rush. Only because of Universal would they feel like they have to spend any money.”
We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more updates about the RCID. For more posts covering this topic, see our links below:
- See Governor DeSantis’ comments on the future of Disney’s Reedy Creek District
- Why June 1st Could Determine Disney World’s Future
- “The Corporate Kingdom Has Come to an End” — Updates on Disney World’s Reedy Creek District
Click here to get an update on the Reedy Creek District drama from the District leaders
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What do you think will happen with the Reedy Creek District? Tell us in the comments.
We really hope Disney can use a loop hole they pay a lot of taxes every year
Barbara Sather says
Reedy Creek is just one of many problems that the Disney corporation is dealing with. They all seem to be coming to a head. I really cannot say if Disney parks will survive. Pre Covid Disney was the most magical place. Now it seems plagued with all sorts of issues. Maybe to much expansion to fast. This is very costly and might be taking funds away from keeping rides there being in tip top shape, also upkeep of property, workers that are electricians , plumbers and builders and all other service people need a cost efficient wage. Without all who work keeping the parks running you simply have a business not running like a well oiled drum.