Disney may not be in such big trouble as Florida legislators think.
As reported in the Miami Herald, the controversial decision to remove Disney’s special privileges in Florida may be harder than it seems to actually pull off. As Florida legislators, including Gov. Ron DeSantis rush through the passage of a bill to repeal the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, one glaring obstacle remains.
Disney noticed this issue and sent a message to its investors, showing that the company was confident the Legislature’s attempt to dissolve the special taxing district actually violated the “pledge” the state made when it enacted the district in the first place. President Joe Biden himself called the attacks on Disney, “ugly” and “mean”. Ultimately, Disney’s stance is that repealing it in such a quick manner is not legal and that investors had nothing to worry about.
The statement, first reported by WESH 2, quotes the statute which says, in part, that the “State of Florida pledges…it will not limit or alter the rights of the District…until all such bonds together with interest thereon…are fully met and discharged.”
The Reedy Creek Improvement Act essentially allows Walt Disney World to reside in Florida unregulated, acting as its own “government” in a way. The act involved creating a special taxing district that acts with the same authority as a county government.
The legislation made the claim that landowners within the Reedy Creek Improvement District, primarily Walt Disney World, could be allowed to be solely responsible for paying the cost of providing typical municipal services like power, water, roads, fire protection etc. Local taxpayers, meaning residents of Orange and Osceola County, would not have to pay for building or maintaining those services.
The statement, posted on the website of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board on April 21 by the Reedy Creek Improvement District, is at the moment, the only public statement Disney has made regarding this issue since Florida lawmakers engaged in this fast and furious battle with the company.
This all starts back with Florida introducing its “Parental Rights in Education” law, also known as the “don’t say gay” bill which Disney spoke out against.
Disney’s statement says, “In light of the State of Florida’s pledge to the District’s bondholders, Reedy Creek expects to explore its options while continuing its present operations, including levying and collecting its ad valorem taxes and collecting its utility revenues, paying debt service on its ad valorem tax bonds and utility revenue bonds, complying with its bond covenants and operating and maintaining its properties.’’
The bill to dismantle the Reedy Creek ruling passed Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives and was also signed and endorsed by Gov. DeSantis. This all happened last week in a quick move to remove Disney’s special privileges from the state but now, the future of that bill seems uncertain to say the least.
How do you feel about the controversy surrounding Disney right now?
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