The New Version of Reedy Creek Held Its First Meeting

On Wednesday, March 8th, the former Reedy Creek Improvement District held its first meeting under its new Board of Supervisors. Let’s discuss what happened during the initial public hearing for the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. 

Disney Speaks Proactively

Nobody involved in corporate media handles publicity better than Bob Iger. It’s always been his one special skill as a leader. The same wasn’t true of former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, whose bungling directly led to the Reedy Creek changes.

Iger anticipated the first meeting of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) and asked his lieutenant, Josh D’Amaro, to speak ahead of the event. 

D’Amaro, the Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, is unquestionably Disney’s most popular executive. For whatever reason, he doesn’t receive the pushback and cynicism that most Disney leaders face.

D’Amaro recently performed a walkthrough of TRON Lightcycle / Run, the official name for what we’ve been calling Tron Lightcycle Power Run. During this walkthrough, journalist Richard Bilbao of Orlando Business Journal asked the obvious question. 

Bilbao wondered how Disney would address the impending changes to the former Reedy Creek. D’Amaro point-blank said: 

“We will stay focused on what we have always done. Look at how we run our business. Look at the investments we are making in our business.”

Then, Disney’s theme park leader said, “As long as I can keep providing that, take care of our cast members, the Central Florida community [and] take care of these guests … I’m in good shape. I can only control what I can control.” 

Finally, D’Amaro summarized Disney’s overall perception of the change: 

“The reality is we work with different people around the world at our different theme parks. So, we know how to work with different people. For all those reasons, I have to look at the situation of where we are going — I believe in where we are going — and I hope the board sees the same.”

What Happened at the First CFTOD Meeting

Did the board see the situation the same as Disney? Obviously, the odds of that happening are quite low. This entire series of events has underscored a schism between The Walt Disney Company and several Florida politicians.

The new CFTOD board consists of five individuals who lack any theme park experience, which is actually a legislative requirement. Nobody who has worked at any theme park over the past three years may participate on the board.

As such, the initial Central Florida Tourism Oversight District meeting ran longer than any in recent memory, taking more than two hours. The explanation for the extra time stems from the training involved. 

CFTOD’s new board members required instructions to learn the specifics of their new job duties. Meanwhile, many members of the crowd either worked for or had family members in the Reedy Creek Fire Department. 

These individuals feel that their coverage area and job duties have expanded dramatically. Despite that fact, staffing hasn’t increased, and the training manuals and procedures allegedly haven’t been updated since 2005. 

The widow of the late Lieutenant Franklin James Dorminy also spoke. Dorminy died in 2017 while swimming following an especially stressful shift. His widow stated during the meeting that she was “fighting for justice.” She noted, “My husband served for 18 years. His last shift, he went and trained with men who wanted to join.”

Other firefighters indicated that their department needs more resources, better training, and additional staff members. So, that’ll be a priority of the new board, which hinted at rewarding first responders. 

What Happens Next with the Former Reedy Creek?

Legislatively, the two big moves during the meeting weren’t unusual. The CFTOD went ahead and scheduled its meetings for the rest of 2023. Another one will occur on April 12th

Amusingly, the board had planned to meet again on March 22nd before learning that they couldn’t due to the rules in place about special meetings, which the March 8th event was. Everybody’s learning as they start from scratch here. 

Also, the CFTOD will consider bringing in special counsel, which is understandable given…well, everything involved here. Disney has shown no indication of legal action, but that could change if the new district board proves adversarial. 

For his part, D’Amaro released the following statement after the meeting’s conclusion:

“The Reedy Creek Improvement District created and maintained the highest standards for the infrastructure for the Walt Disney World Resort. 

We are hopeful the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight District will continue this excellent work and the new board will share our commitment to helping the local economy continue to flourish and support the ongoing growth of the resort and Florida’s tourism industry.”

Disney Brings Back an Icon 

Iger and Disney also looked to the past as the company’s CEO plots its future. Iger re-hired Bruce Vaughn yesterday as the co-lead of Walt Disney Imagineering. Vaughn had previously worked at Disney for 22 years before leaving to pursue next-generation experiential opportunities outside the company.

After several years of Disney leadership seemingly devaluing the contributions of Imagineering, Vaughn’s return signifies a renewed prioritization on Disney Story at the parks. Disney likely wouldn’t bring back Vaughn unless 1) it wanted to signal a philosophical change and 2) big projects were in the offing.  

During his first tenure, Vaughn worked on beloved projects like Cars Land, Mystic Manor, Tokyo DisneySea, and Shanghai Disneyland. His return is a BIG win for Disney professionally and from a PR perspective.

Shanghai Disneyland's Cinderella castle at night

Courtesy of Disney Tourist Blog


Vaughn was behind Disney’s conversion to more interactivity at the parks, including the modernization of Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. He also worked on New Fantasyland and was seemingly the favorite disciple of Bob Weis AND Tony Baxter. 

Please don’t overlook the significance of this homecoming reunion. With Vaughn back in the fold, Disney reconnects to a previous generation of Imagineering that has been sorely missed recently. 


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