ORLANDO, FL — Like most Disney fairytales, there is a whole new chapter to the state’s takeover of Walt Disney World’s special governing district. Officials with the new board, which Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hand-picked to oversee the Reedy Creek district, says they don’t have much power to do anything. 

What You Need To Know

  • Disney made an agreement with the prior board in charge of the Reedy Creek district to transfer control of major decisions to the company

  • Shortly after that deal was struck, DeSantis formally abolished the district, creating a new board that answered to the state

  • Members of the board say that they lack power to make day to day decisions

Members of the board are now reportely considering a lawsuit against the company.

New board members had plenty to say about a little-known deal Disney made with the prior board just before the state took over. Last year, facing public pressure, Disney pushed back on the state’s parental rights in education bill, which critics call the "don’t say gay" law. 

That got the attention of the governor and his legislative supporters who moved to strip down and take over the Reedy Creek Improvement District. 

On February 27, DeSantis signed a bill into law that would install a state-controlled board in charge of the district, and he picked who would sit on the board as well. After that, Reedy Creek Improvement District’s name changed to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.The name and board changed, but everything else was expected to stay the same. The new board would have the same oversight for building standards, infrastructure projects, safety, fire rescue and other municipal like services. 

At a meeting today, board members say they found that just before the governor signed the take over law, Disney and the prior Reedy Creek Board made a deal, effectively transferring all of that oversight and authority to Disney itself. 

"This essentially makes disney the government," Board member Ron Peri told our digital partner, the Orlando Sentinel. "This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure."

Board members and the governor’s office told the Sentinel that they plan to challenge that transfer of authority, calling the deal void as a matter of law.

"An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law," DeSantis spokeswoman Taryn Fenske said in a prepared statement. "We are pleased the new governor-appointed board retained multiple financial and legal firms to conduct audits and investigate disney’s past behavior."

Disney told Spectrum News, "All agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate, and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government.”

It’s worth noting this deal, if it stands, is in effect for more than 30 years.

Interestingly, the same agreement also prohibits this new board from using disney’s name or properties until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles the third.