After voiding Disney’s final agreement with the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors voted to make it illegal for businesses within the district to exercise any COVID-19 preventative measures.
At the start of the Wednesday meeting, several Disney Springs business owners appeared before the board to express their concerns about potential tolls and taxes.
Walt Disney World Resort and most businesses were forced to shut down in March 2020 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Florida businesses opened sooner than many in other states. At Walt Disney World, COVID-19 restrictions included physical distancing and masking. Masking is now optional and physical distancing requirements have been lifted.
The CDC reports approximately 1,129,573 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 so far. According to data from John Hopkins University, there have been 86,850 total deaths in Florida, and 1,140 in the past month.
Disney & Governor 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 Chapek’s expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of Reedy Creek and the eventual 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.
The Florida legislature also recently filed a bill that would require state inspections of Walt Disney World Monorails.
Disney’s Support of Reedy Creek
Recently, 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.” Take a look at our full coverage here.