Florida Audit Reveals Disney’s Unprecedented Power

A recent report on the first comprehensive audit of Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) shows how Disney used quasi-governmental powers for over five decades in its Walt Disney World property in Florida. The findings are particularly troubling, shedding light on the extent of Disney’s influence and its disregard for the broader community.

The 72-page report issued by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) uncovered the web of power that Disney established in RCID. Initially, the district was created to celebrate the creation of Walt Disney World but soon evolved into a way for Disney to gain more power without regard to public welfare.

Additional information, detailed in books like Chad Denver Emerson’s “Project Future” and “Neon Crosses,” provides a historical background, illustrating the shrewd maneuvers Disney made to secure land for the construction of Walt Disney World.

Subsequently, a Florida law was utilized to establish RCID, which enabled Disney to function as its own entity without extensive government intervention. The report emphasizes that RCID (referred to as a partnership between Disney and the state) was, in fact, a creation of Disney.

Over the years, Disney grew its empire and bought brands such as ABC, ESPN, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. Disney brought in over $82.7 billion in 2022. The report shows that citizens of Osceola and Orange Counties paid for the district and never received the right to participate and benefit.

Disney ended up retaining most of the money, litigating to avoid giving taxes to the counties. The auditors describe how Disney took control of the Board of Supervisors and City Councils inside RCID by manipulating the governance structure and ensuring it had its candidates in the key positions.

However, the district’s decisions always supported Disney with infrastructure development, zoning laws, and public safety matters at the expense of other businessmen and taxpayers. The employees of RCID enjoyed many exclusive privileges which created conflicts of interest; RCID was supposed to be a regulator and Disney was supposed to be its beneficiary.

The district’s decisions, shrouded in secrecy and without any public hearing, often aligned with Disney’s interests. The problems worsened for the surrounding communities because Disney avoided paying impact fees, deferred essential road repairs, and refused to contribute to regional development.

Disney’s growth in central Florida came at a high cost, including unaffordable housing and low wages. Disney enthusiasts view these revelations as a form of tough love, urging Disney to improve its methods and recreate a simple vacation experience that guests have admired for years.