The Disney District, also known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), is a special district in the state of Florida. The district encases the Walt Disney World theme parks and its neighboring resorts and is spread out across the two counties of Orange and Osceola. The region has its own protocols for taxing, governing, and land jurisdiction and was intended to accommodate the state and resorts. But now, this land and its unique zoning laws have been infringed upon by the state’s own governor.
Disney is the largest entertainment industry in the world, and its parks and resorts have become one of the biggest pull factors for tourism to the state of Florida. Locals are well aware of the wide-reaching influence that Disney has within the state, impacting everything from jobs and the economy to housing, highways, traffic flow, and more. Because of the company’s symbiotic relationship with the state, it has managed to coexist in the state for decades within its own special district.
The Disney District has been around since the 1960s and was what first prompted the company to even build in Florida in the first place. Before Disney World became what it is now, it was intended to be a sort of utopian city. A city with its own advanced transit system and futuristic housing plans. A project like this required special legal rights in order to enact the changes needed for its creation. This concept later evolved into the resorts that now occupy the land today.
However, as of this week, the Disney District no longer exists. Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis signed a piece of legislation that dissolved the company’s jurisdiction over the land. The district has been renamed the “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.” The district now requires a 5 member board to oversee the district’s government. Former Disney employees from the last 3 years will not be allowed to be appointed to this new board.
DeSantis enacted this new legislation to rid the children’s entertainment company of its control after the company publicly spoke out against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that was passed by DeSantis. Disney found the bill, which prohibits any discussion of sexuality and gender identity from taking place within school settings, to be incredibly discriminatory and harmful to LGBTQ youths and families. DeSantis is now penalizing the company for taking a stance that contradicts his own and ridding them of their district rights and autonomy.
This is a move that spells trouble for Floridians. The Disney District enabled the business to pay for its own taxes and expenses, but now that the district has been dissolved, local governments and citizens are expected to contribute to the former district’s financial obligations. This may be the end to the once-happy symbiotic relationship between Disney and the state’s government.