‘All Florida corporations should be treated equally’: Carolina Amesty backs takeover of special Disney district
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/4/23-Rep. Carolina Amesty, R-Windermere, during the Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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‘I believe this is the right move for my community and for Florida.’

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to take control of a special district governing Walt Disney World has the support of a state Representative voters there elected in November.

Republican Rep. Carolina Amesty said Florida is making the “right move” by assuming jurisdiction over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, since the plan promises to eliminate preferential treatment the entertainment giant has enjoyed for decades and wouldn’t saddle local governments with related costs.

“The entire Disney complex has played a critical role in our state’s economic success, but size and success should never be used as an excuse to provide any company with special exemptions from rules and regulations that all other Florida corporations are obligated to follow,” she said in a statement.

“I believe that all Florida corporations should be treated equally, and I support Gov. DeSantis’ latest initiative to bring the Reedy Creek special governing district under state jurisdiction.”

Lawmakers voted to abolish Reedy Creek during a Special Session last year through two bills. The move came shortly after Disney’s then-CEO, Bob Chapek, decried the Florida Legislature’s passage of the Parental Rights in Education Law, which severely restricts instruction on gender identity and sexual preference in public school classrooms. Critics labeled the measure “Don’t Say Gay” for its potential chilling effect on inclusionary treatment of LGBTQ+ youths.

Chapek, whom Disney later replaced with former CEO Bob Iger, lamented the company’s “painful” silence on the issue, telling employees in a March memo that Disney would pause all political donations in Florida pending an internal review.

DeSantis dismissed Chapek’s comments as being among “the musings of woke corporations” and said Florida should reevaluate Reedy Creek, which since its 1967 establishment has enabled Disney to self-govern on land it owns in Central Florida.

Subsequent legislation DeSantis signed April 22 scheduled the district to be abolished this June but did not set forth what would happen after, making it a topic of import for the regular 2023 Legislative Session.

A notice posted Jan. 6 to the Osceola County Property Appraiser website says coming legislation will remove and revise district powers, provide state oversight and change the selection process for members of the Reedy Creek Board of Supervisors.

The notice also says the pending legislation will ensure debts and bond obligations the district now holds will not be transferred to other local governments, addressing concerns local officials raised previously over where an estimated $766 million in debt would go.

DeSantis indicated last year that the state would not shift the debt locally. Instead, he said, the state would “more than likely … simply assume control.”

Amesty, an education and restaurant executive who campaigned last year on parental control and charter school expansion, said the condition that local governments be spared the debt burden informed her support of the change.

“I want what is best for District 45, and I believe this is the right move for my community and for Florida,” she said Friday. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on this local bill in the House to ensure that the residents of Orange and Osceola County will not incur any debts that are the responsibility of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”

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A.G. Gancarski and Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


8 comments

  • Jack Schitt

    January 15, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    I totally agree with you on The Disney thing. Disney has gotten a free ride for all these years and now they have to pay up and shut-up with their Woke transgender and Gay agenda they are pushing on our children. They made billions of dollars in the State of Florida . Mickey Mouse is Played Out !!!!

    • I know you do

      January 15, 2023 at 8:41 pm

      Hope you like Disney debt on top of the one you already got lol

      • Jack Schitt

        January 15, 2023 at 8:52 pm

        Florida has been letting Disney get away with low taxes not to mention everything else at a discount. It’s time for Disney to step up and Pay to Play. Our debt will go down when they have to pay the State Full price!!

        • Michael Parrish

          January 15, 2023 at 9:12 pm

          Don’t know what you’re talking about. Disney pays the same taxes to Osceola and Orange county as anyone else as required by law. In addition, they pay to Reedy Creek to provide some services that would have normally been provided by the counties. This was established because the counties would not have had the resources to have provided the services required by Disney.

    • Linwood Wright

      January 15, 2023 at 11:38 pm

      Your name is exactly what you know.
      Disney has brought countless billions in tourism dollars to this state, and you’re ready to burn it all down because of some make-believe “woke” agenda. Unreal.

      DeSantis is a clown. He’s gone to war against Disney, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the cruise ship industry here, proven that he can’t be trusted on the national stage.

      • Jack Schitt

        January 16, 2023 at 11:02 am

        You must be a woke Demonrat yourself and you probably work for or your affiliated with Disney in some way or another. My name is what YOU DON’T KNOW….. Jack Schitt .Go back to your Blue State you came from !!!
        De Santis for President 2028
        Trump for President 2024
        Biden is unfit for office, Build the Wall , Secure our Border from idiots like you, Linwood Wright cuz you are WRONG , Wright…… Don’t like our Governor, move the hell out of Florida…….Maybe Gavin Newsom would be a great choice for you , in the land of Fruits & Nuts , Peoples Republic of California….

  • tom palmer

    January 15, 2023 at 5:18 pm

    Explain the free ride part

  • How

    January 15, 2023 at 9:03 pm

    so how is a half cave woman restaurant owner going to beat Disney again? Lol

Comments are closed.


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