Skip to Content

Disney and the DeSantis Appointed Board Sever Another Tie

Disney and the DeSantis Appointed Board Sever Another Tie

For a stress-free Disney or Universal Studios vacation, let the FREE expert planners at Royal Carriage Vacations take care of every detail including dining reservations, applying discounts, and onboard cruise credit.

Oh, how the plot thickens. Disney and the DeSantis-appointed CFOTD have dissolved yet another tie.

The Battle Between Disney and DeSantis


By now, you have probably already heard at least the gist of the ongoing battle between Ron DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company. However, if you are just stepping up to the sidelines, here is the backstory in as concise a version as possible to get you up to speed.

Disney has long been governed by the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID), a special tax district created in 1967 by a special Act of the Florida Legislature. However, things got complicated in 2022 when the state of Florida passed HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education Bill and former Disney CEO Bob Chapek (eventually) spoke out against the bill in vehement opposition.

Shortly thereafter, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 4-C into Law, which effectively dissolved the RCID. In its place, he appointed the Central Florida Oversite Tourism District (CFOTD) and hand-picked its board members, Naturally, this resulted in big operational changes to the Walt Disney World resort.

Disney had a trick up its sleeve and managed to transfer its power from RCID. This new agreement gave Disney most of the control of the district and prevented the new oversight board from making any changes to this agreement until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of King Charles III. DeSantis responded by passing legislation voiding that agreement as well.

And that is how we got to the battle that involves two lawsuits.

CFOTD and Disney Sever Another Tie

Pluto in Castle Hub at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World l
Credit: KtP

As you can imagine, the relationship between Disney and the CROTD is not what anyone would consider particularly pleasant. Interestingly, when the CFOTD was established, John Classe, who served as administrator for the Reedy Creek Improvement District for seven years, stayed on as a special advisor during the transition to the new board’s administrator Glen Gilzean Jr.

Although he’d been part of the former governing body for Walt Disney World, the tides shifted swiftly. The new contract required him to assist with the legal battle with Disney. It also prevented him from working for Disney. The contract was supposed to last through May 2024.

Well, that contract ended abruptly on July 31, 2023. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the board released a statement saying, “Mr. Classe was offered a consulting contract to assist with the transition to the new leadership.” And, “That transition is now complete. The district thanks him for his service.”

Credit: Disney

And that’s all she wrote! The contract reportedly had provisions for either party to terminate, so it is unclear whether Classe is leaving on his own accord or whether the CFOTD terminated the contract.

This means that DeSantis-appointed Glen Gilzean Jr. is now the administrator of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The former RCID administrator is out.

Special Advisor Classe, Disney’s former RCID advisor is out and DeSantis-appointed Gilzean is in.

Amazing Ways Disney Uses the Sun To Power Disney Parks Around the World
Photo: Disney

This, of course, this is all happing parallel to the two aforementioned lawsuits. Disney sued DeSantis in federal court. Meanwhile, the CFOTD has sued Disney in state court, and you can see the latest update for that one here.

What do you think of the separation between Special Advisor John Classe and the CFOTD? How do you think it will all end? Let us know in the comments (and, please, be civil). And, feel free to share the story with your friends who have been following along.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Tuesday 1st of August 2023

If people think there’s no agenda here, they’re sadly mistaken. The district and it’s people have done great work including John Classe. This is truly politically motivated

Linda L. Camacho

Tuesday 1st of August 2023

I think the day is going to come when DeSantis pays for what he has done. We can then all enjoy an Electric Parade!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.