LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) board, appointed by Governor DeSantis, says the previous Disney board of supervisors spent millions in taxpayer money on perks for board members and their families.
On Monday, district supervisors reported that $2.5 million in district funds were spent on season passes, discounts on hotel stays, merchandise, food and beverages for previous board members and district employees.
The CFTOD board, appointed by Governor DeSantis, asked the state’s inspector general to investigate the misuse of public funds.
“For decades, the former Disney-run RCID used taxpayer funds to provide season passes and amusement experiences to its employees and their family members, cover the cost of discounts on hotels, merchandise, food, and beverages, and give its own board members VIP Main Entrance passes,” the CFTOD board said.
The latest bill Disney sent to the district includes a charge of $492,382.96 for “Q1 FY22 Tickets.” Line items also include “Merchandise Discount Usage” ($16,837.39), “Food & Beverage Discount Usage” ($4,969.52), and “Water Parks Discount Usage” ($3,764.48) which Disney expects the taxpayer-funded district to cover.
The previous board also spent taxpayer funds on hotel usage at the Disney Yacht Club Resort, Disney Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney Coronado Springs Resort.
“While the investigation into this matter is ongoing, the thousands of documents reviewed so far raise several issues regarding the entangled nature of [the Reedy Creek Improvement District] RCID’s relationship with Disney,” the CFTOD board wrote in an email to the inspector’s general’s office.
The new allegations shed light on the complex nature of Disney’s influence as the entertainment behemoth and the state-appointed board fight for control over the district in both state and federal court.