The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board met Wednesday for the first time, and promised “big changes” to the way that the jurisdiction that includes Walt Disney World Resort is managed.
Martin Garcia, chairman of the Board, viewed operations in the newly restructured District and stated that changes would be made to meet their mandate from state government.
Martin Garcia stated that “You will see many changes that are going on, and many of them are because we have been legally mandated to make those changes,” per Orlando television station WESH 2.
Although the board didn’t elaborate on what changes they had in mind, Brian Aungst Jr., a board member, stated that the district would be all about “oversight and transparency and accountability”.
During the public comments period, firefighters from the district argued for more training, staffing, and equipment. One even said that the manuals and procedures were obsolete.
Bridget Ziegler, who is a board member, stated that she was disappointed with Disney’s direction over the past years. She added that the company has “time-tested and a point for pride not only for Florida but also the United States.” She stated that Disney’s decisions regarding the company are not within her “purview” of being a board member.
The new board is made up of appointees appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R.FL) marks the first meeting of a non-Disney-selected Board to govern the district since its creation back in 1967.
Josh D’Amaro (chair of Disney parks experiences and products), stated that he was “hopeful” that the newly restructured district would continue the “excellent work of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.”
“The Reedy Creek Improvement District set and maintained the highest standards of infrastructure for Walt Disney World Resort. D’Amaro stated that they are optimistic that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) will continue their excellent work. The new board will also share our commitment to supporting the growth of the resort’s economy and Florida’s tourism industry.
The April 12th meeting of the board will be the next.
Last week, DeSantis signed legislation that takes certain powers from Disney in its central Florida area. This will end what he calls a “corporate Kingdom”. Now, the government has oversight over the restructured area via the governor-appointed board. Disney used to select all the members of this board.
After Disney strongly opposed the state’s Parental Rights in Education Bill in March 2022, the battle between Disney and the governor led to the reorganization of the central Florida district.