DeSantis-appointed board asks state to probe $2M paid to Disney for perks

Reedy Creek Improvement District paid Disney for employee discounts, tickets

One of Walt Disney World's "gateway" entrances. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The oversight board appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to handle Walt Disney World property is asking the Florida Inspector General to investigate why the board’s predecessor spent at least $2 million to Disney for employee perks.

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District sent the referral on Monday. A news release from the CFTOD said it found a bill sent to the district’s predecessor, the Reedy Creek Improvement District, that includes a charge for $492,382.96 for tickets for quarter one of fiscal year 2022.

The bill also included line items for merchandise, food and beverage, water parks and mini golf discounts, employee room discounts for a number of Disney resorts, and discounts for Disney Cruise Line. The total invoice amount was $533,522.

The CFTOD said in 2022 alone, RCID spent $2.5 million on discounts and tickets for employees and family members. The board has since eliminated the employee perks.

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“In addition to constituting unethical benefits and perks, the scheme raises significant questions regarding self-dealing as the board members were only permitted a maximum of $100 per month in compensation per the Reedy Creek Improvement District Act,” a spokesperson wrote in the news release.

The Walt Disney Company is the largest taxpayer within the district.

The Florida Legislature remade the Reedy Creek Improvement District into the CFTOD earlier this year, complete with a board of supervisors appointed by DeSantis.

Disney said the move was in retaliation for criticizing the passage of the Parental Rights in Education law, known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The feud between Disney and DeSantis has touched off lawsuits between the parties in state and federal court.

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About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.