Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle releases a statement on the apparent demise of Reedy Creek Improvement District

Feb 10, 2023 in "The Walt Disney Company"

Posted: Friday February 10, 2023 3:39pm ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

Following this week's votes in the Florida State House and Senate, the bill to make fundamental changes to the Reedy Creek Improvement District appears to now be a certainty. 


Walt Disney World President Jeff Vahle has just released a statement that appears to concede defeat and accept that the proposed changes will come into effect.

"For more than 50 years, the Reedy Creek Improvement District has operated at the highest standards, and we appreciate all that the District has done to help our destination grow and become one of the largest economic contributors and employers in the state. We are focused on the future and are ready to work within this new framework, and we will continue to innovate, inspire and bring joy to the millions of guests who come to Florida to visit Walt Disney World each year."

-Jeff Vahle, President, Walt Disney World.

The bill that has passed moves to replace the governing body's board with five members appointed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. In addition, the Reedy Creek Improvement District would be renamed "Central Florida Tourism Oversight District."

The final step for the bill is for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to sign it into law, which at this point would appear to be a certainty.

The creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District in 1967 allowed Disney the luxury of establishing its own independent government that handles many aspects of the Walt Disney World property, including emergency services, infrastructure, and construction permitting.

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flyakite1 day ago

It was in the Orlando Sentinel, so I have posted it here. Not sure who is the general counsel, why they are added to the Florida Retirement System, and why it must be announced. Actually, Kurt Ardaman and Daniel Langley are general counsel for CFTOD and maybe they are considered employees and not independent contractors.

DCBaker5 days ago

Here's the article: Florida’s Disney World oversight district is paying Orange County Elections Supervisor Glen Gilzean $20,000 a month through December as part of a consulting agreement quietly inked when he stepped down as administrator. Gilzean left his $400,000-a-year job leading the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District in March after less than a year of service. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Gilzean, one of his political allies, to serve as Orange County’s supervisor of elections. That position has an annual salary of $205,000. What wasn’t publicly known during the transition nor submitted to the district’s board for approval or discussion was that Gilzean signed a consulting agreement from April 1 through the end of the year. Stephanie Kopelousos, another DeSantis political ally who replaced Gilzean, authorized the agreement. The district’s board approved her hiring on March 27. The Orlando Sentinel made numerous inquiries into Gilzean’s status with the district since he stepped down, but the district never provided answers until now. Between his elections job and consulting contract, Gilzean is drawing a taxpayer-funded income of about $37,000 a month. State Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, said she is concerned about Gilzean juggling consulting and election duties. “I think he should concentrate on one job and do it well and not have two jobs,” she said. “He should relinquish that contract. There is an election coming up, and he needs to concentrate on that.” Gilzean didn’t respond to a phone message and email on Thursday. As elections supervisor, he is responsible for overseeing voting in this year’s presidential election in Orange County. In a March 11 interview with News Spectrum 13, Gilzean said he would cut ties with the district when pressed on whether he would devote his full attention to the elections supervisor job. “The goal is to have a very seamless transition,” Gilzean said. “It is not fair to the taxpayers over in the district to be in two different areas at the same time.” Gilzean has not said if he will run for the elections job, which will be on the November ballot. He has until June 14 to qualify. Recently, he has faced criticism from several candidates who say he kept them in the dark on petitions that would allow them to qualify to run without paying a filing fee. District leaders defended the contract. Gilzean’s services were needed to ensure “the continuity of government functions,” and the contract is mirrored after similar arrangements with previous administrators, district spokesman Matthew Thomas Oberly said in a prepared statement. “With his experience and understanding of our organization, Mr. Gilzean provides valuable knowledge that will aid in a successful transition,” Oberly said. District officials provided a copy of the consulting agreement. They also released monthly reports for April and May from Gilzean that detail outreach work he did with veteran-owned businesses as part of the district’s program to provide contracting opportunities to local companies. “To date, Mr. Gilzean has provided valuable insight regarding outstanding projects to Administrator Kopelousos,” Oberly said. “Per standard practice, consulting agreements do not go before the board.” The agreement doesn’t include a list of specific tasks for Gilzean, although it notes that requested services will be performed on a “part-time basis and shall not interfere with … other full-time employment obligations.” The district can terminate the agreement early with or without cause, according to the terms. The Disney district’s five-member, DeSantis-appointed board named Gilzean to the administrator post in May 2023 as part of a state overhaul. He served in that role until March when DeSantis picked Gilzean to fill a vacancy created by long-time Democratic elections chief Bill Cowles’ retirement. Charbel Barakat, acting chairman of the district’s board, said he was aware of the consulting agreement but was advised it did not require a vote. “We wanted to make sure there was no disruption. … This is in a lot of ways one of the most complex local governments in the state,” he said. “There are a lot of moving pieces.” Gilzean’s predecessor, John Classe, stayed on as a special adviser as part of a one-year employment agreement that the board approved in May 2023 when Gilzean took over. Under that agreement, Classe continued to earn his $355,000 annual salary, which equates to about $29,500 a month. But the district terminated the agreement early on Aug. 30. Gilzean previously served as a DeSantis appointee on the Florida Commission on Ethics. He also was president and CEO of Central Florida Urban League before joining the Disney district. His stint on the Ethics Commission ended when media reports showed he violated a state law prohibiting members from holding public employment. He resigned his unpaid position as ethics commission chairman in August, rather than quit his job leading the Disney oversight district.

flyakite5 days ago

Gilzean has been paid $20K per month by CFTOD as a consultant until December. Not sure if Orlando Sentinel article is behind paywall. Maybe someone can help if it is. https://www.orlandosentinel.com/2024/06/06/elections-chief-gilzean-got-20k-a-month-consulting-deal-with-disney-district/?utm_medium=browser_notifications&utm_source=pushly&utm_campaign=4837559

LudwigVonDrake6 days ago

No real details except the $17 billion and $8 billion numbers. They approved it and the final approval is June 12

DCBaker6 days ago

The CFTOD Board of Supervisors meeting to discuss the Developer's Agreement is about to begin:

BrianLo7 days ago

Which is already a bit of a platitude. Let's commit to spending half of what we are already spending anyways. Similarly to DL Forward. They are likely intending to spend double what they promised Anaheim as well. We'll have to see the teeth of the Master Agreement. At least the Anaheim one has actual clauses and means of verifying they met their spending commitments.

flynnibus7 days ago

YES - because as I said... THAT'S WHAT THE COMP PLAN DEFINES This is an agreement that says the new comp plan must include AT LEAST these thresholds.. and the comp plan's PURPOSE is to define the maximums for the property. The issue isn't a typo - it's your lack of understanding of the comp plan and what these numbers are for. You are fixated on text that says 'this number must be a minimum of 5' and not understanding what '5' is used for. The comp plan does not define that there must be 5 theme parks - it says there can be UP TO 5.

Advisable Joseph7 days ago

Again, you are getting "maximum" in here somehow. But anyway, I think it is a typo: unless the minimums actually get enshrined in the Plan or the LDR (see subsection C and the syntax is ambiguous), it would be irrelevant. The only thing making me wonder if it was an intentional decision is the notion that the fifth gate could be part of the price of the settlement. Desantis seemed to want another park.

flynnibus7 days ago

Read the text that precedes the table and it will make more sense. "The District agrees to adopt the Updated Comprehensive Plan on terms and conditions that are consistent with this Agreement, and memorializing, at minimum: - The development program (types and intensities) reflected in Table B, Updated Comprehensive Plan Project Development Table, Column B." It's literally a commitment to say the new Comp Plan will include allowances that AT LEAST this much will be allowed in the Comp Plan. The Comp Plan is itself defining the maximums allowed for the property. So this text is saying the new agreement should include maximums that are AT LEAST as large as Table B, Column B.

Advisable Joseph7 days ago

I'm not sure how you get that from "Updated Comprehensive Plan Minimum Development." Again, "maximum" would make more sense. I think that may be a typo? Even the text refers to the column as a development program that the district must memorialize in the plan. Does "development program" imply "maximum" somehow?

flynnibus7 days ago

Some highlights reading through the Agreement... "The District recognizes that Master Developer’s past and present efforts in developing the Project and Master Developer’s support of the District’s construction of public infrastructure paid for, in large part, with Master Developer’s tax payments to theDistrict, has provided a benefit to the Central Florida community." After all the hubub about if RCID served a purpose... seems like a nice little insertion here to get the district to go on record that the relationship and concept is beneficial to the state. "Modification or Cancellation. Any modification or cancellation of all or any portion of this Agreement requires the express written consent of the District and MasterDeveloper." So a true two party agreement... yet another sign Disney is fully confident they have the 'say' with this district model going forward they want. An interesting highlight from the Buy Local initiative... "Master Developer is committed to continuing its role as an economic engine in the state ofFlorida. Master Developer will implement a Buy Local program which will ensure a minimum of fifty (50) percent of all dollars spent for development of the Project are spent with businesses located in the state of Florida" Note it only requires that the business be LOCATED in the state of florida. Not locally owned, not Florida based, etc.. just 'located' in Florida. Open a Florida office.. and you'd be covered. Seems like a really toothless commitment. On Affordable housing... note "Master Developer, at its sole discretion, will fund attainable housingefforts by partial funding of construction costs for approved, to beconstructed attainable housing projects, or, in the alternative, by paymentto a County or City affordable housing trust fund to be mutually agreed upon by the District and the Master Developer" Note what is lacking... - any thing about initiatives WITHIN the District (or any location for that matter) - it even gives them an out to just make a contribution $$ and be done with it Basically this is a $10M payoff due 10yrs from now... with zero requirements that it actually changes anything within the District or for Disney employees. There is a list of typical public works and road infrastructure projects the District commits to build (Exhibit E). So really besides a vague promise to spend $8Billion on the property in the next 10years... there really isn't any big concession from Disney here.

flynnibus7 days ago

No, it means the district is agreeing that the forth coming comprehensive plan will include intensities that will allow, at a minimum, the numbers cited in the table.

JoeCamel7 days ago

Its basically what was already in place.

Stripes7 days ago

The “minimum” refers to CFTOD promise to increase certain densities and intensities by a certain amount in the the next comprehensive plan. This seems to only have an impact on office space.