Walt Disney World
Walt Disney--The Man
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Reedy Creek Improvement District
Walt Disney World is located within the Walt Disney Company's Reedy Creek improvement District, a.k.a a Disney-controlled and owned area separate from any public cities in Florida. This District allows Disney a large amount of autonomy.
The Improvement District has far-reaching powers. Through the District, Disney could construct almost anything within its borders, including a nuclear power plant (which it never built, opting instead for a more traditional plant that supplements power from outside of the District). The District, as with any municipal corporation, can issue tax-free bonds for internal improvements.
In addition to the power of eminent domain outside the District, the one other power that the District was given (that it would not have had if it were simply the two cities) was an exemption to state zoning and land use laws. On the other hand, county taxes, including property and sales taxes, still apply within the District.
The planned residential areas never came due in part to the fear of losing control of the District. For instance, the Disney-controlled town of Celebration, Florida (built in the '90's), was deannexed from Bay Lake and the District to keep its residents from having power over Disney by providing for separate administration of the areas. Celebration lies on unincorporated land within Osceola County, with a thin strip of still-incorporated land of the RCID separating it from the rest of the county. This strip of land contains canals and other land used by the District.
A five-member Board of Supervisors governs the District, elected by the landowners of the District. These members, senior employees of The Walt Disney Company, each own undeveloped five-acre lots of land within the District, the only land in the District not technically controlled by Disney or used for public road purposes. The only residents of the District, also Disney employees or their immediate family members, live in two small communities, one in each city. In the 2000 census, Bay Lake had 23 residents, all in the community on the north shore of Bay Lake, and Lake Buena Vista had 16 residents, all in the community about a mile north of Downtown Disney. These residents elect the officials of the cities, but since they don't actually own any land, they don't have any power in electing the District Board of Supervisors.
The District headquarters are in a building in Lake Buena Vista, east of Downtown Disney. Everything publicly run is run by the District; the cities are a formality. This is reflected in recent land acquisitions by Disney towards the west; these were added to the District but not Bay Lake.
Reedy Creek Fire Department
The District runs the following services, primarily serving Disney:
The District does not have a police force, instead allowing Orange County and Osceola County to respond to incidents. The approximately 800 security staff are instead considered employees of the Walt Disney Company. Arrests and citations are issued by the Florida Highway Patrol along with the Orange County and Osceola County sheriffs deputies who patrol the roads. (Which they seem to do quite frequently, and with a fair number of traffic stops.) Disney security does maintain a fleet of security vans equipped with flares, traffic cones. These security personnel are charged with traffic control by the RCID and may only issue personnel violation notices to Disney and RCID employees, not the general public.
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