Disney Firefighters Blocked From Entering Parks, DeSantis Board to Blame

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A female and male firefighter smiling with the Cinderella Castle in the background inside of Magic Kingdom Park at Disney World.

Credit: Inside The Magic

Walt Disney World Firefighters are unable to visit the theme parks thanks to a policy that was changed by none other than the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD), currently run by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looking shocked with the entrance sign to the former Reedy Creek to the right and the Cinderella Castle in the background inside of Magic Kingdom at Disney World.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Related: Ron DeSantis and Board Prepare to Make Final Stand Against Disney

What’s Going On With Disney Firefighters Lately?

In August 2023, Disney World firefighters were upset about a decision by a board appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to eliminate perks. The perks included: 
  • Free park passes
  • Disney discounts
  • Access to the parks for district employees and their families

The firefighters had previously supported DeSantis’ plan to take over the Reedy Creek Improvement District. However, they confronted the board about the decision to strip them of their benefits. 

The board also approved a union contract that increased firefighter pay. The starting salary for a firefighter/paramedic increased from $55,000 to $66,000. The agreement also included: 
  • A 5% wage increase
  • $5,000 signing bonuses for workers with three or more years of service
  • $2,500 prizes for everyone else
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in front of Cinderella Castle at Disney World
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Shuts up DeSantis, Shows Massive Power Over Florida Economy

Then, in September, the Disney Firefighters turned on Ron DeSantis and the board, wanting to sit down and discuss a replacement stipend since the Annual Passes were no longer accessible.

The Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Local 2117 union representative shared that Disney firefighters are expressing reservations. The concerns escalated to the point where firefighters raised these issues during a meeting with the new Reedy Creek Board to address their grievances.

There was a notable escalation following the confrontation between Disney firefighters and the DeSantis Reedy Creek Board. Originally stemming from the theme park’s opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” law, this matter has had broad repercussions, affecting Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Florida.

Governor Ron DeSantis looking surprised by the Walt and Mickey statue at Disney World
Credit: CBS/Inside the Magic

Related: DeSantis Board Accused of Inside-Dealing After Lawyer Given $500 per Hour Pay

Disney firefighters are even more angry that they are still waiting to receive cash stipends to make up for Disney perks ended by the Florida governor.

In a new report from the Orlando Sentinel, around 200 unionized employees – firefighters – have yet to receive the $3,000 stipend due to a disagreement with the district over the benefit’s value. According to the President of the district’s firefighters:

We have had one bargaining session over the stipend, but it went nowhere

Union officials did estimate that the value of the Disney passes and discounts should be higher, at least $5,000. The program covered discounts and theme park entry for employees, their spouses, and three guests.

The Associated Press released a new article detailing Disney World under a full investigation from Florida Gov Ron DeSantis and his board. DeSantis appointees are in search of documents related to Disney World and the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, along with numerous other forms of communication.

This month, the board held a meeting that included a 13% wage adjustment in 2024 and a 5% adjustment in 2025 and 2026 for a separate union contract covering battalion chiefs and captains. There is no official word on when the firefighters will receive their stipend, but hopefully, this matter will be addressed soon as the Holidays are just around the corner.

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