The Value of Disney Reedy Creek to Florida

What is the district’s impact on Florida and the Walt Disney World Resort?

In 1967, the Florida State Legislature established a special district in Orange and Osceola Counties known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District (recently renamed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District). Encompassing 25,000 acres, this special district provides and manages municipal services for the 47-square miles of the Walt Disney World Resort.

For more than 55 years the special district fulfilled its legislative intent as outlined in its original charter – the advancement of economic progress and well-being of the people of Florida by facilitating the development of a world-class tourist destination and was a model of efficient and well-run local government.

The special district has long served as a catalyst for economic prosperity in Florida by helping Walt Disney World Resort welcome millions of visitors to the region, and it has historically championed efforts to protect Florida’s natural environment for all Floridians and visitors to enjoy.

Why was the special district created in Orange and Osceola Counties?

When Walt Disney World Resort was in development during the 1960s, the closest water and power lines in Orange and Osceola counties were 10-15 miles away from the secluded property. These counties did not have services or resources to support the development of what would become a global destination resort.

Working with Disney, the Florida State legislature established the special district (then known as Reedy Creek Improvement District) in 1967 to create and manage municipal services with authority and responsibility similar to a county government.

The legislation stated that landowners within the new district, which was primarily Walt Disney World Resort, would be solely responsible for paying to provide typical municipal services including power, water, roads and fire protection.

Does Disney pay taxes in Florida?

As one of the largest taxpayers in the region, we have always paid our fair share of taxes and more, including paying and collecting a combined $1.146B in state and local taxes.

In addition to paying all state, local and district taxes, Walt Disney World Resort also donated land and financed a number of public infrastructure projects in the local community, which have benefited Central Floridians without burdening them with additional taxes for development and municipal services.

Walt Disney World Resort does not get any exemption from County real estate taxes because of the special district. Walt Disney World Resort pays the same rate for Orange and Osceola County real estate taxes as other businesses in Orange and Osceola Counties, including other theme parks and tourist attractions. And in addition, Walt Disney World Resort pays a separate real estate tax to the special district. As a result, Walt Disney World Resort’s total real estate tax rate is significantly higher than the real tax rate assessed against other theme parks and tourist attractions in Orange and Osceola Counties, in some cases at least 50% higher.

Does Disney pay taxes to special district?

The Florida State Legislature established a special taxing district in 1967 known today as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. This legislation stated the primary landowner, Walt Disney World Resort at the time, would be solely responsible for paying to provide typical municipal services including power, water, roads and fire protection. 

Following five decades of attracting many world-class businesses seeking economic prosperity in Florida, more landowners are now present within the special district. 

Today, Walt Disney World pays more than 80% of taxes to the special taxing district in addition to the taxes collected and paid to Orange and Osceola Counties and the state of Florida. 

The district was (and remains) a cost-effective mechanism for ensuring the tax burden for these vital municipal services does not fall on Orange and Osceola County residents.

How does the special district address its outstanding bond debt?

The special district has a multi-decade history of timely paying all of its bond debt and the high bond ratings reflect that fact.

How does the special district benefit residents of Orange and Osceola Counties?

The district remains a cost-effective mechanism for ensuring that tax burdens for municipal services supporting Walt Disney World Resort do not fall on residents in Orange and Osceola Counties. These services include building and maintaining 134 miles of roadways and 67 miles of waterways and other infrastructure within the special district.

How has the special district helped drive economic prosperity in Florida?

Walt Disney World Resort has far exceeded anyone’s wildest dreams in terms of generating economic prosperity. Originally, it was estimated that Disney would invest $600 million in Florida over the course of the entire development.

The special district has allowed Disney to efficiently invest tens of billions of dollars in Florida by maintaining the highest development and service standards on Disney property. Disney also created new jobs and thousands of other indirect jobs that continue attracting people to Florida and generating even more economic prosperity through increased tax revenue.

How many people work on Walt Disney World Resort property?

Walt Disney World is home to more than 75,000 Cast Members who provide legendary guest service that draws millions of visitors from around the world. This makes Disney the largest single-site employer in the United States.

Additionally, there are approximately 200 third-party business locations across Walt Disney World employing around 16,000 Floridians. Twenty-one of these locations on Disney property are Florida-owned businesses.

How has the special district helped the Florida environment?

Disney and the special district have a shared commitment to protecting and preserving Florida’s environment through the development of an expansive quality control water system, dedicated acres to conservation and active solar farms on site. The special district manages 60,000 tons of waste and recycles 30 tons of paper, cardboard, plastic, cans and aluminum annually.

The special district employees also conduct 90,000 analyses annually to ensure water quality meets or exceeds state and national standards. This is important as the waterway known as Reedy Creek which passes through District property is part of the Florida Everglades Headwaters.