The Fight Is Done as Disney World President Releases Statement Over Florida Government Takeover

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Governor Ron DeSantis and Walt Disney with Cinderella Castle in the background

A tumultuous battle has been waged in Central Florida over the last year. The contention over Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District is something that has rattled the brains of many people since its future became the target of the Florida government and its leader, Governor Ron DeSantis.

As history is about to be unraveled under the swift pen of the Sunshine State’s leader, Walt Disney World Resort President Jeff Vahle has issued an emotional statement.

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse Partner's Statue in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

Disney World’s Reedy Creek

The Reedy Creek Improvement District, or RCID, is a special taxing district and governing body for the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. It was established in 1967 and has, for the last 56 years, included the cities of Bay Lake, Lake Buena Vista, and unincorporated land owned by the RCID, within the outer limits of Orange County and Osceola. It was put into effect four years before Roy O. Disney opened the first phase of Walt Disney World Resort in 1971 to honor his late brother, Walter Elias.

However, the district — which was passed into law by the Florida government back in the 60s, partially off the back of Disney World’s potential Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (which eventually became EPCOT Park) — will soon be upturned with legislation being signed into action relinquishing The Walt Disney Company’s control over the district, and subsequently releasing their jurisdiction and self-governing status.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind with Spaceship Earth in the background at EPCOT
Credit: Disney

Related: Disneyland Swarmed By “Anti-Groomer” Protesters Amid “Don’t Say Gay” Debacle

The Disney vs. DeSantis battle erupted over the Florida government’s plan to introduce the HB 1557 bill — the Parental Rights in Education bill colloquially called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill, written into law on March 28, 2022, and enacted on July 1 of the same year, was met with uproar from members and allies of the LGBTQIAP+ community. The Parental Rights in Education bill seeks, in part, to prohibit any discussion of sexual or gender identity in public schools from kindergarten through third grade.

Disney’s response to the bill is what led DeSantis to begin the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The Mouse House condemned the legislature, even after it was revealed they had donated to politicians who supported the passing of the Parental bill.

Reedy Creek Fire Dept. truck in front EPCOT's Spaceship Earth at Disney World
Credit: Reedy Creek Fire Department

And now, almost a year on, those fears of Disney World’s Reedy Creek being dissolved have been quashed as a special session resulted in a new bill — the HB 9B — which saw Reedy Creek saved from its destruction by Florida legislature. However, what will happen is that Governor DeSantis now has the power to select board members to run the district, which has been renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

At this time, Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle issued a statement that read, in part, that “[Disney] was monitoring the progression of the draft legislation” and “regardless of the outcome, [Disney remains] committed to providing the highest quality experience for the millions of Guests who visit each year.”

Cast Members including Disney World President Jeff Vahle outside Cinderella Castle at Disney World
Credit:Jeff Vahle via Instagram

So after the HB 9B bill passed the Florida House of Representatives, it then passed the Florida Senate with a 26-9 vote in favor of the new legislature, leaving Disney World President Jeff Vahle to once again offer a statement to fans of the beloved Disney Resort. He said (via Yahoo News):

“For more than 50 years, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has operated at the highest standards, and we appreciate all that the District has done to help our destination grow and become one of the largest economic contributors and employers in the state.”

Vahle said that Disney is “focused on the future” and will work in line with the new framework. The Disney World President ended his statement with an emotional, heartfelt message, saying that the company will continue to “innovate, inspire, and bring joy to the millions of Guests who come to Florida to visit Walt Disney World each year.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis giving a speech
Credit: ABC News

Related: Disney Discussing Three More Potential Theme Parks at Orlando Resort

This statement seemingly concludes Disney’s battle with the Florida government over the special district, confirming they will not fight the changes imposed by DeSantis. The brash nature of DeSantis’s attack on a historic part of Disney history is largely in keeping with his combative leadership style — which, according to FOX35 Orlando, is what has “propelled him to national political stardom,” where he continues to gain “appeal” from conservative primary voters.

DeSantis is expected to sign the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District into law in the coming days. How this will shape Disney World’s future and upcoming Walt Disney World property is unclear.

How do you feel about the Reedy Creek Improvement District changing after 56 years? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below! 

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