Yesterday, the Florida state legislature voted in favor of Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposed bill, which would reduce the independence enjoyed by Walt Disney World through the Reedy Creek Improvement District Act and Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle responds.
Walt Disney himself first began to ratify the Reedy Creek Act, an unfortunate fact that enabled DeSantis to take advantage of a loophole to dissolve any proposed special district agreement signed into law before 1968. Of course, DeSantis holds a more personal vendetta against the Walt Disney World Resort’s specific special district, which allowed it near self-governance for fifty years due to the Walt Disney Company’s vocal support of LGBTQ+ rights after DeSantis passed the infamous “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” regulating visibility for minority identities and histories, particularly in children’s educational curriculum.
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In fact, the new HB 9 bill prevents the landowners (AKA Disney Parks) from selecting the new board members, all five of which DeSantis himself will now appoint. Furthermore, board members are restricted to those without theme park or entertainment complex experience within the last three years, effectively eliminating anyone from the Disney brand who actually has the Parks interests in mind.
Many theme park analysts feared the worst for the fate of Disney World if HB 9 passed, and now that it has, they are looking to the theme park mogul itself to see its next move. Moreover, some questioned if Disney would take the case to the Supreme Court to have DeSantis’ eligibility limitations or the entire redistribution of power appealed.
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However, a new statement released by Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle suggests quite the opposite: Disney hopes to wash its hands of the matter and accept the new changes. Specifically, Vahle states Disney is more focused on its future than holding onto the District of the pass, opting to adapt to DeSantis’ changes in order to continue operations and innovating the Disney Parks experience for Guests.
You can read the full statement, as reported to WFTV9 below:
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. We are focused on the future and are ready to work within this new framework, and we will continue to innovate, inspire and bring joy to the millions of guests who come to Florida to visit Walt Disney World each year.
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Even so, the bill significantly reduces or completely strips Walt Disney World and Reedy Creek of its self-governing powers, meaning the coming adjustment period may very well determine the Company’s fate. Follow along with DisneyDining for updates as this story continues.