Disney has taken to their official community outreach site to share their view of the Reedy Creek Improvement District in a new post. Entitled “The Value of Disney Reedy Creek to Florida,” the new post was added today as the battle between Disney and Gov. Ron DeSantis drags out.
The lengthy post on Disney’s website references the history of the district, how Disney is taxed, and the ways the district benefits the residents and taxpayers of Florida.
The full post reads as follows:
“What is the district’s impact on Florida and the Walt Disney World Resort?
In 1967, the Florida State Legislature established a special taxing district in Orange and Osceola Counties known as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (previously known as Reedy Creek Improvement District or RCID). Encompassing 25,000 acres, this special taxing district provides and manages municipal services for the 47-square miles of the Walt Disney World Resort.
More than five decades later, the special taxing district continues fulfilling its legislative intent as outlined in the charter – the advancement of economic progress and well-being of the people of Florida by facilitating the development of a world-class tourist destination.
The special taxing district has long served as a catalyst for economic prosperity in Florida by helping Walt Disney World Resort welcome millions of visitors to the region, and it has historically championed efforts to protect Florida’s natural environment for all Floridians and visitors to enjoy.
Why was the special taxing district created in Orange and Osceola Counties?
When Walt Disney World Resort was in development during the 1960s, the closest water and power lines in Orange and Osceola counties were 10-15 miles away from the secluded property. These counties did not have services or resources to support the development of what would become a global destination resort.
Working with Disney, the Florida State legislature established the special taxing district (then known as Reedy Creek Improvement District) in 1967 to create and manage municipal services with authority and responsibility similar to a county government.
The legislation stated that landowners within the new taxing district, which was primarily Walt Disney World Resort, would be solely responsible for paying to provide typical municipal services including power, water, roads and fire protection.
Does Disney pay taxes to the district?
As one of the largest taxpayers in the region, we have always paid our fair share of taxes and more, including paying and collecting a combined $1.146B in state and local taxes.
In addition to paying all state, local and district taxes, Disney also donated land and financed a number of public infrastructure projects in the local community, which have benefited Central Floridians without burdening them with additional taxes for development and municipal services.
How does the special taxing district benefit residents of Orange and Osceola Counties?
The district remains a cost-effective mechanism for ensuring that tax burdens for municipal services supporting Walt Disney World Resort do not fall on residents in Orange and Osceola Counties. These services include building and maintaining 134 miles of roadways and 67 miles of waterways and other infrastructure within the special taxing district.
How has the special taxing district helped drive economic prosperity in Florida?
Walt Disney World Resort has far exceeded anyone’s wildest dreams in terms of generating economic prosperity. Originally, it was estimated that Disney would invest $600 million in Florida over the course of the entire development.
The special taxing district has allowed Disney to efficiently invest tens of billions of dollars in Florida by maintaining the highest development and service standards on Disney property. Disney also created new jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs that continue attracting people to Florida and generating even more economic prosperity through increased tax revenue.
How many people work on Walt Disney World Resort property?
Walt Disney World is home to more than 75,000 Cast Members who provide legendary guest service that draws millions of visitors from around the world. This makes Disney the largest single-site employer in the United States.
Additionally, there are approximately 200 operating participant locations across Walt Disney World employing around 16,000 Floridians. Twenty-one of these locations on Disney property are Florida-owned businesses.
How has the special taxing district helped the Florida environment?
Disney and the special taxing district have a shared commitment to protecting and preserving Florida’s environment through the development of an expansive quality control water system, dedicated acres to conservation and active solar farms on site. The special taxing district manages 60,000 tons of waste and recycles 30 tons of paper, cardboard, plastic, cans and aluminum annually.
The special taxing district employees also conduct 90,000 analyses annually to ensure water quality meets or exceeds state and national standards. This is important as the waterway known as Reedy Creek which passes through District property is part of the Florida Everglades Headwaters.”
Disney & DeSantis
Governor DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.
Bob Chapek was Chief Executive Officer of Disney at the time, and initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from cast members and controversy over Disney’s practice of making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.
In an apparent act of retribution over this expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the dissolution of Reedy Creek and transfer of power directly under his control. DeSantis argues he is attacking a rather vague perception of something he calls “woke politics,” invading the state. He further says he aims to put the people of Florida first through his actions: “Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.”
The Governor insists he will double down on efforts to punish Disney through methods both in the Legislature and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board. Notably, he promised to hike Disney’s hotel taxes and institute tolls on the roads around Walt Disney World Resort property.