The Walt Disney Company is in serious trouble and not only in the audiovisual field. For more than a year, the company has been at war with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who finally managed to establish a new management body.
The Reedy Creek District (RCID) was replaced by the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board. One of their first functions was to prepare a report, which they had to present within a year, analyzing the work carried out by the five members responsible for the management of the Reedy Creek District. This document, which was prepared independently, has just been released and reveals the corporatist practices that Disney has engaged in since 1967 when this board was established.
According to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board, The Walt Disney Company granted benefits "akin to bribes" to district employees that, giving away, according to Reuters, millions of dollars in tickets, hotel stays, significant discounts and merchandise:
For years, the company treated district employees like Disney employees by, for instance, providing complimentary annual passes and steep discounts -- benefits and perks that were akin to bribes. Not surprisingly then, the district's employees believed that it was in their job to prioritize the interests of Disney.
From a city to an amusement park
That's not the worst of it. The board was most concerned with how the company managed to deceive the state of Florida. This claim was made by one of the independent auditors, George Mason Law School professor Donald Kochan. He said, in statements reported by The Daily Wire, that Disney assured Florida that it intended to build a city around a single theme park. It wanted to city to have "affordable housing, transportation, and other community services."
However, Kochan explains that the company "quickly abandoned its city-building pretense." In its place, they built Disney World Resort, a place consisting of several theme parks, four golf courses and dozens of hotels. There were no longer private homes, only accommodation sites with exclusive services for tourists:
The RCID was a mousetrap. Disney dangled savory cheese in front of the Florida Legislature and the people of Orlando, but quickly abandoned its city-building pretense.
FOX News reports that no hospitals and public services were built. Instead, the company continued to expand Disney World Resort, taking advantage of Reedy Creek District's "unchecked":
The District is not home to any schools, hospitals, or libraries and instead foists those costs upon the surrounding communities which must supply those services for Disney employees and their families. That authority was so unchecked that Disney attained the power to, among other exceptional privileges, create and direct not just its own fire and police departments, but also, if it chose, construct a nuclear power plant.
Disney responds to the accusations
The 80-page report continues to expose the corporatist practices that The Walt Disney Company has carried out over the 53 years it has governed the Reedy Creek District.
The company issued a statement, which was sent to FOX News, saying that the document is "neither objective nor credible" and that the board is nothing more than a new attempt by DeSantis to "punish Disney for exercising its Constitutional right to free speech":
This report also comes on the heels of numerous reports in the media which have raised legitimate concerns around the governance of the district under its new leadership. While the board may wish to undermine Disney’s ability to continue investing in the region, we are extremely proud of our impact on the Central Florida economy over the past half-century and we remain committed to maintaining the highest quality experience for the tens of millions of guests who visit Walt Disney World each year.