by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Fifty-five years after Florida passed a law at Disney’s request establishing the land around the Walt Disney World Resort as the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), which gave it all the responsibilities and power of a county government, the entertainment empire made a fatal mistake: It chose the sexualization of children as the hill to die on.
Specifically, in response to HB 1557 — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education law, which critics dishonestly dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” because it prohibited activist teachers from bringing LGBT politics and transgender indoctrination into kindergarten through third-grade classrooms — Disney threw its weight around. In keeping with its executives’ commitment to injecting a “not-at-all-secret gay agenda” into every aspect of its brand, Disney, a “county” unto itself through the RCID, made striking down HB 1557 its “goal.”
Little did the gargantuan mouse know it was no match for DeSantis.
In April 2022, a little over six months before the Florida governor would win reelection in a 20-point landslide, he signed into law a bill repealing Disney’s sweetheart Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID). It subsequently dissolved in June 2023.
DeSantis replaced the RCID with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) — and that’s where things get interesting. The CFTOD took on what looks to be the first exhaustive and independent audit in the five-decade-plus history of the district, with assistance from renowned finance, government, accounting, and city planning experts. The new district published its bombshell findings in an 80-page report on Monday, which can be summed up in a single line: The Reedy Creek Improvement District was “the most egregious exhibition of corporate cronyism in modern American history.”
First off, the investigators’ report indicates, the entire premise of the RCID was a scam.