The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board members have accused their predecessors of using taxpayer money to pay for themselves to receive $2.5 million in “unethical benefits and perks,” mostly related to season passes and associated spending at Disney World, in the latest exchange between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney. According to the current board, “the scheme included the RCID (Reedy Creek Improvement District) government paying for ‘discounts’ enjoyed by employees on all Disney purchases.”
The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, originally known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, served as Disney World’s equivalent of a county-level municipal government for many years while being largely owned by Disney. Disney provided a sizable portion of the district’s budget during that time through taxes the board levied.
The current CFTOD board claims in a complaint to the state inspector general that prior officials used Reedy Creek funds to purchase benefits linked to parks.
For many years, the former Disney-run RCID used public monies to grant season passes and entertainment opportunities to its staff members and their families, pay for price breaks on lodging, goods, food, and drinks, and give its own board members VIP Main Entrance passes. It cost taxpayers more than $2.5 million in 2022 alone, according to a statement from the CFTOD board.
The agreement, which was funded by the district and, consequently, taxpayers, was purportedly self-serving for Disney because it routed money back to the resort.
According to the statement, “The scheme raises significant questions regarding self-dealing as the board members were only permitted to receive a maximum of $100 per month in compensation.” This can be interpreted to mean that in addition to their low monthly salary, the board members were given unethical privileges and perks.”
The CFTOD board asserts that it learned about the expenditures when Disney issued it a $533, 522 bill for the most recent quarter’s “discounts.” The charge for “Q1 FY22 Tickets” accounts for $492,382.96 of the total cost of the invoice. A “Merchandise Discount Usage” of $16,837.39, a “Food & Beverage Discount Usage” of $4,969.52 and a “Water Parks Discount Usage” of $3,764.48 are among the line items. The Disney Yacht Club Resort, Disney Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney Coronado Springs Resort are also included in the hotel usage.