The fallout between the Walt Disney World Resort and the state of Florida’s control over the Reedy Creek Improvement District has continued on while a union representing Disney’s first responders has officially shared support for the proposals put forth by the DeSantis administration.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis first proposed dissolving special districts, namely Reedy Creek Improvement District at Walt Disney World, during a tumultuous back and forth with the company regarding Disney’s opposition to the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” (Parent Rights in Education) bill last year. In the time since the initial feud began, DeSantis signed the legislature into law that would seek to dissolve Reedy Creek by June 1, 2023.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, communications director of the Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Local 2117 Tim Stromsnes commented on the state takeover of the district saying, “Anything has got to be better than what we currently have.”
This comment is not the first time Disney’s firefighters and first responders have shared issue with their work environment at Disney. In December 2021, Reedy Creek’s union representing firefighters publicly shared its staffing challenges noting concern for the ability to reach emergencies in time around Disney property as a result.
The more pressing concern for many Reedy Creek workers has been whether they would lose benefits they have already been offered under the current jurisdiction if the improvement district is dissolved. While Stromsnes did note that the Florida state government has a proven history of providing excellent care to its first responders, internal talks between union members have continued to reveal the uncertainty over benefits as a top concern.
As for an update from the Walt Disney Company, CEO Bob Iger commented on the Reedy Creek issue during a town hall meeting with Cast Members last month but has not publicly addressed it since then. During the meeting, Iger noted that he was “sorry” to see “Disney dragged into that battle,” and shared that he needed to “get up to speed on Reedy Creek” before sharing more of his thoughts.
The DeSantis administration commented on the Reedy Creek discussion following union support on Friday saying Disney’s “corporate kingdom has come to an end,” with language reminiscent of DeSantis’ own words earlier in his feud with Disney when former CEO Bob Chapek initially showed opposition for the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” and support for Disney’s LGBT Cast Members last year.
Reedy Creek Improvement District currently employees about 400 first responders and firefighters who operate a system in place to manage all levels of emergencies across the Walt Disney World Resort. Governor DeSantis is also up for reelection this November.
We will continue to monitor all updates on Reedy Creek Improvement District at Walt Disney World and will report back with more information as we have it here on Disney Tips.