Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pushes back over report about Disney’s Reedy Creek

Report shows state lawmakers looking to reinstate Reedy Creek Improvement District

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law abolishing the Reedy Creek Improvement District by next summer, but there are still no formal plans to replace it.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office on Friday pushed back against a published report that claimed state lawmakers were working to reverse a plan that would have stripped Disney of its ability to self-govern.

The Financial Times article said Florida lawmakers were in the process of reversing the move to strip Disney of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a decision spurred by DeSantis in April after the company’s then-chief executive Bob Chapek spoke out against the state’s new “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

With the state legislature passing a measure to strip Walt Disney World of its self-governing powers, concerns are increasing for what kind of an impact it will have on Central Florida.

When News 6 reached out to DeSantis for a response to the report, Deputy Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern said DeSantis “does not make U-Turns,” suggesting he would not waver on his decision to dissolve the special district.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District — created by state lawmakers in 1967 — acts as Walt Disney World’s own government with two cities and land in Orange and Osceola counties.

According to the Financial Times report, state lawmakers are currently “working on a compromise that would allow Disney to keep the arrangement largely in place with a few modifications.” The article cites the return of Disney CEO Bob Iger as a reason why lawmakers are discussing reestablishing the special district that acts as a governing body for the 25,000 acres in Orange and Osceola counties on which Walt Disney World sits.

State Rep. Anthony Sabatini took to Twitter to highlight the report, claiming “Florida is preparing to cave.”

Florida lawmakers currently debating congressional maps proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in a special session will now also consider getting rid of special districts enacted before 1968, which includes Disney’s Reedy Creek district.

The recent report is just the latest to come out of the battle between DeSantis and Disney, a rivalry that grew from the governor’s mission to repeal the district in response to the Disney company condemning the signing of the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, a controversial piece of legislation banning sexual identity discussion in schools.

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News 6 has also reached out to the Reedy Creek Improvement District and is waiting to hear back.

Check back here for updates.

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About the Author:

Samantha started at WKMG-TV in September 2020. Before joining the News 6 team, Samantha was a political reporter for The Villages Daily Sun and has had freelance work featured in the Evansville Courier-Press and The Community Paper. When not writing, she enjoys travelling and performing improv comedy.