Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro Hopes New Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board Will Understand Positive Impact of Walt Disney World

During a walk through Magic Kingdom with Orlando Business Journal, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro shared his thoughts on the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight board taking over Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Josh D'Amaro with Cinderella Castle

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference at Reedy Creek Fire Station last month before signing legislation for the state government to take over control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, now the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The new board is appointed by the governor. Members must be Florida residents and cannot have worked in the theme park industry within three years. The district will no longer dissolve the district on June 1, 2023.

D’Amaro told Orlando Business Journal, “We will stay focused on what we have always done. Look at how we run our business. Look at the investments we are making in our business. As long as I can keep providing that, take care of our cast members, the Central Florida community [and] take care of these guests … I’m in good shape. I can only control what I can control.”

D’Amaro did not get into the politics of Governor DeSantis’ decision to take over Reedy Creek. During his press conference, DeSantis doubled down on the bill being in response to Disney’s opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill, known virally as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Though The Walt Disney Company initially did not respond publicly to the bill, then CEO Bob Chapek eventually denounced it. Governor DeSantis recently reported that Chapek did not want to do so.

Now CEO Bob Iger addressed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in a town hall soon after his return, saying, “One of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion, [and] acceptance, and tolerance. And we can’t lose that, we just can’t lose that.”

Although D’Amaro didn’t directly address these political concerns, he continued to Orlando Business Journal, “The reality is we work with different people around the world at our different theme parks. So we know how to work with different people. For all those reasons, I have to look at the situation of where we are going — I believe in where we are going — and I hope the board sees the same.”

“If that new board understands the value that gets created here,” he said, “and how it positively impacts the Central Florida community, I think they will be aligned with our vision and will carry on the Reedy Creek soul that’s been in place.”

Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle previously said they are “ready to work” with the new board.

Among DeSantis’ appointees to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight board is Ron Peri, a former pastor and the CEO of The Gathering, who has called homosexuality “evil” and claimed it was caused by tap water. The first meeting of the new board is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8. The chairman of the board will be attorney Martin Garcia. The other members are Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, attorney Brian Aungst, Jr., and attorney Michael Sasso.

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