Things are changing at Disney World in a big way.
We’ve already seen updated rules announced for Annual Passholders when it comes to Park Passes, changes made to hotel parking fees, and even Genie+ adjustments. But there could be many more changes on the way with the impending dissolution of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District and Disney’s ongoing battles with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Now, it seems Disney is taking some steps to hopefully “secure” certain parts of its future and maybe even set things up to build NEW parks. Let’s break it all down here!
Just as a quick reminder for those who may not be familiar with it, for over 50 years, Disney has essentially acted as its own county thanks to the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). The RCID helps Disney, as the majority owner of the land in the District, have a large amount of control over the land on which it operates in Orlando. It has given Disney the ability to issue bonds, make decisions regarding building codes, and more.
But the future of the RCID is in jeopardy. After expressing the Company’s disapproval of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill (what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill) and advocating for its repeal, the Florida legislature and Florida governor passed a law that will dissolve the RCID on June 1st, 2023, unless some kind of action is taken to reestablish it or otherwise address it. For many, this was seen as an act of retaliation.
Though some have indicated that the District could essentially be reestablished with the removal of certain powers but the maintenance of the structure in a way that would still give Disney LOTS of power, DeSantis’ office seems to suggest that this would not be the case and Disney would instead be stripped of much of its control. What will happen remains to be seen, but what we do know is what steps cities within the Distrct have taken lately — and they’re important.
According to the Wall Street Journal, during a recent meeting of the two cities that make up the RCID — Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake, FL — the officials from those cities “approved a resolution to consider changing land-use regulations to accommodate the district’s comprehensive plan.” Too much legal language? Let’s break it down.
Basically, the RCID previously created a comprehensive plan that served as a 10-year roadmap for future developments. That plan was adopted as the 10-year plan some time ago, and it includes the idea for 3 pretty BIG future developments (among other things).
Some of the key things the plan includes are the idea that Disney could, in the future, build 1 new MAJOR theme park (we’re talking another Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, etc.), as well as 2 MINOR theme parks (which could be more along the lines of water parks or the ESPN Wide World of Sports), and LOTS of new hotel rooms (you didn’t think they were done building resort hotels, did ya?).
Just because Disney approved plans for this potential future development doesn’t mean those new parks are being built for sure. In a document entitled the 2020 Comprehensive plan, they note that although the maximum development table (included above) “allows for development of one major and two minor theme parks there are no plans under review.” Things may have changed since then, but still, all the plan’s approval means is that they have opened up the possibility of doing this development in the future.
So, step 1 — approving the plan for potential future development — was already done some time ago. What’s so important about what’s happening now? Well, step 2 here was, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, approving a resolution to consider changing the land-use regulations so that this plan could actually move forward.
It’s somewhat similar to what we’re seeing over at Disneyland with the Disneyland Forward situation. While you might have all kinds of plans for future development, they really can’t take place until the land is appropriately zoned/otherwise appropriately regulated for the developments you want.
The step the cities took in Orlando — approving a resolution to consider changing land-use regulations to accommodate the comprehensive plan — marks a step forward in opening the door further to this potential future development, should Disney choose to go forward with it one day.
Why would Disney take this step now, you ask? Well, it likely has to do with the Company’s ongoing battles with Florida politicians and the uncertain future of the RCID.
If the RCID is truly dissolved and replaced with a district that is “run” by political leaders appointed by the Florida Governor or individuals otherwise not selected directly by Disney (without outside influence), and the cities under the RCID are impacted, it could mean Disney would face a tougher battle getting resolutions like this approved.
Better to tackle the issue now when more “friendly” individuals are in power than take the chance and leave it for an uncertain future. If all the proper land use regulation approvals go into place now, then it could make future developments “easier” for Disney to accomplish.
The Future of Reedy Creek Remains Unclear
What will happen with the RCID is still up in the air. The communications director for DeSantis, Taryn Fenske, shared “The corporate kingdom has come to an end…Under the proposed legislation, Disney will no longer control its own government, will live under the same laws as everyone else, will be responsible for their outstanding debts, and will pay their fair share of taxes.”
The key here is really Disney not being to control its own government since the RCID already has been paying taxes and was responsible for its debts. A notice posted on the Osceola County site also indicates that there is an intent to seek legislation that would impact the RCID by “removing” the power of the District, revising the selection progress of the governing body for the District, and more.
But Disney might have some leverage. Because Disney is the sole landowner in the district, UCF Professor Aubrey Jewett previously indicated that they’d have to agree to new terms (at least under certain future plans).
In the meantime, it seems Disney is getting all of its ducks in a row so they’re set up for as much success in the future as possible, no matter how things play out. We’ll likely get some HUGE updates on the RCID in the upcoming months, so stay tuned for more details on that.
Click here to see why one individual said “Chapek screwed up” in relation to the Florida legal battles with Disney
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What do you think will happen to the RCID? Tell us in the comments.
The post Disney Takes BIG Steps Toward Future Parks Amid Reedy Creek Drama first appeared on the disney food blog.