DeSantis signs law dissolving Walt Disney World's self-government

What's next for Disney after Reedy Creek Improvement District dismantled?
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Mater Academy Charter Middle-High School in Hialeah Gardens on April 22, 2022.jpg
Posted at 4:16 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 17:40:49-04

HIALEAH GARDENS, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed into law a bill that dissolves Walt Disney World's private self-government.

The law eliminates the Reedy Creek Improvement District — as the 55-year-old Disney government is known — as well as a handful of other similar districts throughout the state by June 2023.

The measure allows the districts to potentially be reestablished, leaving an avenue for Disney to renegotiate its future.

When Florida Repubicans took their action against Disney's special district, some said it created more problems than it solved.

"It could be a very conservative $1 billion," Florida Atlantic University professor Sophia Johan said.

Johan is talking about the cost to taxpayers in two Florida counties from losing the Reedy Creek Improvement District, upwards of $500 a person.

"If you remove their fire services and security, will the counties take over or will there be significant unemployment?" Johan said.

That's because undoing a special district, as they are called, can be complicated.

WATCH: What does dissolution of special districts mean for South Florida?

What does dissolution of special districts mean for South Florida?

Currently there are more than 1,800 such districts in Florida, everything from Disney's to The Villages — which has 14 development districts — and small districts like the Lake Worth Drainage District in Palm Beach County.

"Our job is to take water out of the neighborhood when it's too wet and to hold water to preserve ground water levels when it's too dry," said Tommy Stroud, the executive director of the Lake Worth Drainage District.

Stroud's district — which has been here more than a 100 years — operates by assessing a tax on residents in southeastern parts of the county, which pays for managing over 500 canals.

It's also how the majority of these districts generally operate in the state, approved by lawmakers to provide a very focused single-service, unlike Disney which operates like its own small city, making it hard to untangle.

"We are dissolving one that is extremely active," Johan said.