(SNews) – Disney is throwing in the towel and will not fight a bill that gives Gov. Ron DeSantis control over its Orlando theme parks after a bill passed both houses of the Florida Legislature this week to create a new entity to assume the powers held by the Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Reddy Creek was a sweetheart deal Disney got from Florida when it developed its massive theme park. Disney has been in charge of it since 1967. The new entity, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, will be run by a five-member board appointed by DeSantis.
The state Senate will need to confirm Ron’s choices. Many expected Disney to fight tooth and nail over DeSantis’ move but the president of Walt Disney World Resort, Jeff Vahle, said they will cave instead.
Vahle said: “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.
On Reedy Creek legislation:
"A lot of folks in the media were saying, 'oh my gosh, Disney's actually going to pay less in taxes and Floridians are going to pay more taxes'… Well this puts that to bed."
— Bryan Griffin (@BryanDGriffin) February 9, 2023
“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.”
The bill passed the Florida House of Representatives on Thursday with a vote of 82-31. 81 Republicans and one Democrat voted “yes.” All 31 of the “no” votes came from Democrats.
The state Senate approved the bill on Friday.
26 Republicans voted for it and nine Democrats voted against it.
“It’s like Disney is operating in a low-security prison, where they can still do what they want to do but there’s guards around them at all times,” said Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando.
“They can’t speak up against the governor ever.”
In this year’s Framework for Freedom budget, we have proposed a record $2 billion in tax relief for Florida families.
With high inflation hurting families across the country, here in Florida, we are providing meaningful relief to help those grappling with rising costs. pic.twitter.com/VktRGBRJ7Z
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 8, 2023