Disney Defends Reedy Creek with New Publication
The Walt Disney Company has remained quiet this week.
While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) have pounded the table, Disney has said nothing.
Countless reporters have asked Disney to comment on various proclamations and proposals. Nobody from the company has responded thus far.
However, Disney just quietly added an essential update to its community outreach site.
Let’s Talk about the Value of Disney Reedy Creek to Florida.
The Battle of Reedy Creek Continues
This week has witnessed countless fireworks between Florida’s government and its largest taxpayer/revenue generator, Walt Disney World.
The CFTOD just declared itself the “superior authority” over the former Reedy Creek Improvement District.
Cynics have noted that if you feel the need to say you’re superior, you’re not. Sadly, that’s the point we’ve reached in this increasingly ridiculous squabble.
Florida’s new board is claiming dominion after Disney’s paperwork gave the Mouse complete control over the land.
Yes, one side is screaming, “I’m in charge!” while the other is saying, “Nuh uh!”
Based on my upbringing in a large family, I half-expect one of them to scream, “Moooom!” to settle the debate.
The Mom in this case will be the court system, and Florida’s government knows it’s in a tenuous position here.
For this reason, the gerrymandered legislature intends to alter existing laws to nullify Disney’s Reedy Creek agreements.
If these were your friends arguing, you’d tell them you don’t want to hang out with them this weekend because you’re tired of the drama.
Sadly, we’re discussing Walt Disney World and the ruling legislative body in Florida rather than family or toxic friends.
Here’s a recent Fox Business discussion that summarizes how many feel about the subject:
“Governor DeSantis is close to making a fool of himself with his Walt Disney obsession.” – Fox Business Host Larry Kudlow pic.twitter.com/uwCUFEgwKb
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) April 20, 2023
Much of that is true, especially the shot at Bob Chapek. It’s nice that we can all find common ground about that.
Anyway, the CFTOD made several comments this week that attempted to entice Disney into revealing its hand.
Alas, Disney couldn’t stay quiet about Reedy Creek forever. Instead, leadership has taken a clever approach.
Disney Defends Reedy Creek
Since Monday, Disney had laid low but also armed its allies with knowledge.
For instance, when DeSantis attacked Disney about paying its fair share, a reporter posted this article refuting the governor’s claims.
According to the report, “Disney’s total property value is $124 billion and it pays more than $1 billion a year in state and local taxes, the most of any other taxpayer in central Florida.”
The journalist followed with this: “NBC6 asked the governor’s office repeatedly since Tuesday afternoon if DeSantis was confused, misinformed or intentionally misstated the facts about the property appraisal process, but received no response to our questions.”
These things are happening due to the governor’s fading popularity and his odd crusade against Mickey Mouse.
However, the legislation unfolding is impactful and comes with real-world consequences for many parties, not all of them with Disney.
For this reason, Disney acknowledged that it paid $1.146 billion in taxes in 2022 alone. Yes, that’s easily the most of anyone in Central Florida.
Similarly, Disney announced plans and a timeline for the upcoming cast member housing project. It should start housing people by 2026.
These subtle updates suggest that Florida’s governor doesn’t have his facts straight while attacking Disney.
Conversely, the governor has suggested that Disney failed to send informational letters to impacted residents on Reedy Creek land.
If true, that would be a glaring oversight by Disney, one that would give a court reasonable grounds to void Reedy Creek paperwork.
Given what has transpired thus far, I doubt that’s the case, but Disney isn’t talking…about that. It DOES feel the need to defend Reedy Creek, though.
Disney’s New Reedy Creek Defense
Here’s the official website you can visit. This update, which went live on April 20th, 2023, defends Reedy Creek on the following points:
- 1 – The District’s Impact on Florida
- 2 – The Reason for the District’s Creation
- 3 – Disney’s Tax Payments
- 4 – How the District Benefits Local Residents
- 5 – Disney’s Creating Economic Prosperity in Florida
- 6 – Walt Disney World’s employment numbers
- 7 – How the District has Protected the Environment
Obviously, that’s a lot of topics to cover. Let’s quickly go point-by-point to underscore Disney’s thinking here.
Topic 1: Disney believes that Reedy Creek aids “the advancement of economic progress and well-being of the people of Florida by facilitating the development of a world-class tourist destination.”
The website describes Disney as “a catalyst for economic prosperity in Florida.” You’d be hard-pressed to argue otherwise, given the millions of tourists who visit each year.
Topic 2: Disney describes the need for Reedy Creek’s creation as a previous lack of utilities and other necessities when Walt Disney purchased the land during the 1960s.
Topic 3: We already discussed Disney’s tax payment amounts. It’s a staggering sum.
Topic 4: Disney argues the following: “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.”
This subject has proven somewhat divisive over the years, but Disney’s position here is easily defensible.
Disney’s Strongest Defenses
Topic 5: Here’s the irrefutable quote: “Walt Disney World Resort has far exceeded anyone’s wildest dreams in terms of generating economic prosperity.”
As the site mentions, Disney guaranteed it would spend $600 million at Walt Disney World. Folks, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge alone cost more than $1 billion.
Also, as a reminder, Bob Iger just stated Disney would spend $17 billion over the next decade at Walt Disney World. Disney has kept its part of the financial bargain.
Topic 6: Disney lists 75,000 cast members in Orlando, along with 16,000 people who work for Disney-connected “participants.”
Topic 7: There are a lot of statistics here. The most notable one to me is that the “special taxing district manages 60,000 tons of waste and recycles 30 tons of paper, cardboard, plastic, cans and aluminum annually.”
Also, “district employees also conduct 90,000 analyses annually to ensure water quality meets or exceeds state and national standards.”
All of this is provable, which strengthens Disney’s argument that the governor has unfairly targeted Florida’s largest employer/revenue generator.
Obviously, reason and statistics don’t mean much in this dispute, but Disney definitely has many facts on its side.
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