“We Won’t Back Down” — New Reedy Creek Board Member Comments on Battles With Disney

The battle between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney is far from over.

©Governor DeSantis via Twitter

DeSantis previously signed the bill that ended, in his words “the corporate kingdom” and altered the rules governing Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District (renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District). The board of the District is now appointed by the Governor. But the new board has recently discovered some agreements made between Disney and the previous board that the new board doesn’t particularly like and thus the battle has continued.

The previous board entered into agreements with Disney that give Disney a good amount of power over some of the land in the district. According to the Orlando Sentinel, one development agreement bars the new District from regulating building height and using the Disney name or “fanciful characters such as Mickey Mouse” without Disney’s approval. The document declares this is valid until “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, king of England.”

Reedy Creek trash cans in Disney Springs

According to CNN, the district’s acting counsel and its newly obtained legal counsel have indicated that the agreement “gave Disney development rights throughout the district and ‘not just on Disney’s property,’ requires the district to borrow and spend on projects that benefit the company, and gives Disney veto authority over any public project in the district.”

The board members have hired legal counsel to examine the agreement and potential legal action that may be taken related to it. Board Chair Martin Garcia explained that the District could take an “adversarial position” against Disney, even suggesting they litigate all the way to the United States Supreme Court in “protracted litigation.”

©Reedy Creek

According to CNN, DeSantis’ spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said that the board retained “multiple financial and legal firms to conduct audits and investigate Disney’s past behavior.” Fenske stated, “The Executive Office of the Governor is aware of Disney’s last-ditch efforts to execute contracts just before ratifying the new law that transfers rights and authorities from the former Reedy Creek Improvement District to Disney.”

Fenske also indicated, “An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law.”


Christina Pushaw, from DeSantis’ rapid response team, posted the following on Twitter, “Governor DeSantis’ new board would not, and will not, allow Disney to give THEMSELVES unprecedented power over land (some of which isn’t even theirs!) for 30+ years.”

And one of the new board members, Bridget Ziegler, also posted a response to the matter on Twitter. Ziegler shared, “The arrogance of @disney continues.” Ziegler accused Disney of “sneaking in a last minute sweetheart development agreement,” and insisted that Disney has “overplayed their hand in Florida.” Ziegler continued, “We won’t stand for this and we won’t back downIf unlawful actions were taken, this development agreement will be nullified.”

Disney, however, had stood by their actions. In a statement they released, Disney indicated “All agreements signed between Disney and the District were appropriate, and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law.”

We’ll continue to keep an eye out for more updates on this situation and how the battle between Disney and the Board progresses. Stay tuned for the latest news.

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