Disney World government leader praises ‘historic’ year, which also included big challenges

REEDY CREEK 3 (Large) (1)
To say it's been a busy first year for the CFTOD is an understatement.

Disney World’s governing board is on a hiring spree, filling more than 70 positions, its top administrative leader said following media reports of a mass employee exodus following the state’s takeover.

“Given the swift influx of qualified applicants, I’m confident that we will promptly fill the remaining positions,” said Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) Administrator Glen Gilzean, adding there were still “a few vacancies remaining.”

Gilzean provided the update during the board’s regular meeting.

The CFTOD is the state-controlled government that oversees the roads, emergency services and utilities at the sprawling Walt Disney World Resort.

More than 30 district employees resigned after the state takeover, leaving with years of knowledge, according to an October 2023 story by former Orlando Sentinel investigative reporter Jason Garcia, who publishes the “Seeking Rents” newsletter.

Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis returned to the Orlando area to tout the government that he took control over one year ago following a feud with Disney World.

Gilzean’s tone was similar to DeSantis’ message last week as he praised the CFTOD’s work. The district, formerly known as Reedy Creek Improvement District, had previously been controlled by Disney.

“In our inaugural year, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has achieved historic successes benefiting our employees, visitors and all taxpayers. We’ve turned this district into a leading example of effective governance,” Gilzean said Wednesday. “The creation of our district is attributed to the bold and visionary leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Legislature.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, the board approved a new sexual harassment policy.

“I want to show our staff and let them know that this leadership team will not tolerate harassment, sexual or otherwise,” Gilzean said.

However, the district has also faced unprecedented challenges during its first year, which Gilzean did not acknowledge Wednesday.

The CFTOD is in the middle of a legal fight with Disney in three different lawsuits that emerged following the state’s takeover of Reedy Creek.

The board met publicly for about 50 minutes Wednesday and then spent the next 40 minutes in a closed session discussing those lawsuits.

Disney is suing over alleged freedom of speech violations for speaking out against a Florida law and for the slow release of public records. That case was recently dismissed, though Disney is appealing. The CFTOD has a counter lawsuit against Disney pending in Orange Circuit Court.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .


2 comments

  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    February 28, 2024 at 3:16 pm

    “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District” sounds like something Orwell would have come up with.

    • Joe

      March 4, 2024 at 12:11 pm

      Orwellian Newspeak + massive grift = the Florida RepubliQan party

Comments are closed.


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