Disney vs. DeSantis: What the Feud Means for the Future of Reedy Creek

Disney has had quite the feud with lawmakers over the past several months.

Things Are Changing at Disney World

After expressing its opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill and Disney’s goal to get the law repealed, a bill was introduced and passed in the Florida government to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). The RCID is a special district under which Disney has operated for over 50 years, which essentially has let it have a large amount of control over the land on which it operates in Orlando and function as its own county. The district is set to be repealed under Florida law in 2023, but what will happen next? We’ve got some updates.

What’s Happening?

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney’s future is being “shaped in secret” when it comes to the dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and what will replace it.

State leaders expect that a new district will be created to essentially replace the RCID. The key question now seems to be “who will control the new district?”

Reedy Creek trash cans in Disney Springs

Previously, Florida Governor DeSantis had indicated that Florida would take control of the district. But that might not exactly be the case.

Florida Senator Linda Steward (D-Orlando) said that Disney doesn’t want to relinquish its control over the district (which it has controlled for over 50 years).

It’s all about striking balance. Senator Stewart shared, “The DeSantis group is trying to figure out how to look good. Disney is trying to protect the business model.”

Reedy Creek Fire Marshal Sign in Disney World

The compromise? Disney might be willing to give the state of Florida representation on the board for whatever new district is created.

Right now, the RCID is governed by a Board of Supervisors consisting of 5 members. Disney is the primary owner of land in the district, and as such, they select who sits on the board. But perhaps giving the state of Florida some representation will strike the deal needed to still give Disney the control they want.

Reedy Creek Fire Department

When it comes to DeSantis’ group “looking good,” Senator Stewart noted that she expects Republican lawmakers will make some changes to the RCID, which will let them claim a “victory,” but in truth, the changes may just be entirely superficial. Stewart’s expectation is that the changes won’t truly change how Disney has done business and controlled its district.

According to Steward, Disney “will maintain control…Any changes that may be made will be superficial and will not interfere with the business that needs to be done through the Reedy Creek district. There is a lot at stake here.”

Senator Stewart | Via Video from WESH 2 News

“What’s at stake?” you ask? Disney World is one of the largest single-site employers in the country, generates thousands of jobs, and pulls in millions of guests. Plus, the RCID has upward of $1 billion in bond debt. Many have raised the concern that when the RCID is dissolved, Orange County and Osceola County would have to absorb that debt.

Reportedly, Ben Watkins, the director of the Florida Division of Bond Finance, has been “working to assure bondholders their investments won’t be affected by the state’s actions against Reedy Creek.”


Watkins has apparently recommended that the RCID essentially be recreated so that the RCID’s debt can be repaid. He would envision the new district essentially functioning in the same way as the RCID, so as to not burden local taxpayers.

Click here to read about why Florida might face a big problem with dissolving the RCID

Keep in mind that Florida isn’t all-powerful in this situation. WFTV 9 reports that Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida, has pointed out that because Disney is the sole landowner in the district, it would have to agree to any new terms. That gives it some leverage in the situation.

When Will We Get More News?

The final details surrounding the dissolution of the RCID and the possible creation of a new district are expected to be “hammered out” during the next legislative session for the state of Florida — which starts in March of 2023.

The RCID is set to be dissolved by June 1st under the current law, so that doesn’t leave a lot of time to get things settled.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ©Reuters

Florida Representative Daniel Perez had previously indicated, however, that the conversations regarding the RCID had been ongoing and that he thought they could “reach a solution sometime soon.” So perhaps we’ll get more details sooner rather than later.

Only time will tell what will become of this situation. To see how Disney is preparing for dissolution click here. And for updates on the Reedy Creek dissolution-related lawsuit that has been filed, click here.

Stay tuned for more news.

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What do you think will end up happening with the Reedy Creek district and Disney World? Tell us in the comments. 

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3 Replies to “Disney vs. DeSantis: What the Feud Means for the Future of Reedy Creek”

  1. When this was created, EPCOT was supposed to be an operating city NOT a theme park so it made sense!! With Universal adding parks–why should Disney be able to get special treatment and make their own rules?

  2. Glad to see his imperial Lordship Ron Desantis isn’t all powerful in this situation. It’s truly political backlash from republican leadership for what they have done and should not happen in America