Disney Springs Restaurants Worried They’ll Bear the Brunt of Disney-DeSantis Battle

Both The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have been the subject of many headlines since Disney released a statement against the Parental Rights in Education law (what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill). Over the past few months, the Reedy Creek Improvement District (now called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District) has undergone some restructuring, with DeSantis imposing a new board to oversee taxes and other regulations within The Walt Disney World zipcode. 

Walt Disney World

Thus far, many have focused their attention on the impacts that the newly-appointed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board may have on the Disney parks. During a recent Board of Supervisors Meeting, several business owners sought to bring attention to another group impacted by proposed changes.  

A Quick Recap

For a bit of background, the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) is a special district in Orange and Osceola Counties created by the Florida State Legislature in 1967. The RCID was designed to manage various municipal services for the 47-square miles of the Walt Disney World Resort. The district was responsible for paying to provide municipal services, including power, water management, maintaining the roads, and fire protection.

Reedy Creek

For decades, the RCID has given Disney the power to make its own decisions without outside approval. Then, fast-forward to 2022, Disney spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, and things began to change. By April 2023, DeSantis had signed a law to dissolve Disney’s Reedy Creek governing district by June 2023. Now, DeSantis has proposed new projects for the board to handle, including building a prison near Disney World, appointing an outside source to inspect the Disney World monorail, and removing COVID-19 restrictions in the District.

©Governor Ron DeSantis Website

Most recently, Disney decided to fight back with a lawsuit, alleging that the Governor has waged a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” against the company.

Who is impacted?

At a recent Board of Supervisors Meeting held by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, many business owners voiced their concerns with the ongoing battle between the Flordia Legislature and The Walt Disney Company. 

Attorney Jeff Aaron at the meeting

One local businessman, Steven Schussler, who represents Yak & Yeti, The Boathouse, Rainforest Cafe, and T-rex restaurants, explained that some of the proposed changes will impact his staff and employees, claiming, “Every one of them has expressed concerns over what’s happening with Reedy Creek.” He went on to explain that some of his staff take a bus to work, and the board’s proposed changes could impact workers’ ability to get to work.

Keep in mind that although there are many restaurants located on Disney property, not all of them are owned and operated by Disney.

Yak & Yeti

Then, the CEO of that same restaurant group Steve Lombardo explained that The Boathouse restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Disney Springs, and as a tenant of Disney, the restaurant must pay millions in taxes and other fees. The discussion of additional taxes concerned him, and Lombardo went on to say, “Please understand that when you make these decisions, it impacts far more than just Disney.” 

The Boathouse in Disney Springs

After that, several other Disney Springs business owners voiced similar concerns, including Mark Gibson (who owns and operates Splitsville, Homecoming, and Everglazed) and George Miliotes (Wine Bar George), to name a few.

@winebargeorge on Instagram

Many shared their fears regarding the ongoing tension between the board, the state, and Disney. Some made a point to say that any changes made going forward will impact not just Disney, but the hundreds of small-business employees that operate in Disney World. Rising costs and employee retention were common fears shared among the business owners.

A Basin representative was also present at the meeting

From small shops like Basin to popular restaurants like Homecomin’, many representatives took the time to explain that new restrictions, taxes, and regulations could cripple third-party businesses on Disney World property. We will continue to monitor the status of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, so stay tuned for updates.

BREAKING: Disney Sues Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

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The post Disney Springs Restaurants Worried They’ll Bear the Brunt of Disney-DeSantis Battle first appeared on the disney food blog.

source https://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2023/04/26/disney-springs-restaurants-worried-theyll-bear-the-brunt-of-disney-desantis-battle/

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