Governor DeSantis’s Hand-Picked Ally Appointed as New Administrator for Central Florida Tourism District Amid Ongoing Feud with Disney

The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, formerly known as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, has appointed Glen Gilzean Jr. as its new administrator, with a salary of $400,000 per year, in a move that highlights the ongoing feud between conservative Governor Ron DeSantis and Walt Disney World Resort. Gilzean, an ally of DeSantis, replaces John Classe, who had been appointed by the Reedy Creek Improvement District.[0] During the transition, Classe will serve as a special advisor to Gilzean and is anticipated to stay within the district.[0] The appointment of Gilzean continues the trend of DeSantis hand-picked allies being placed in positions of power in the former Reedy Creek Improvement District.[1] The Florida governor personally selected all the members of the board.[1]

The ongoing battle between the state and Disney began in 2022, when Disney Parks fans and Cast Members protested DeSantis’s Parental Rights In Education Act, better known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.[2] Although DeSantis cautioned him, Bob Chapek, the ex-CEO of Disney, defied the anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and committed to suspending contributions to politicians in Florida.[3] As a response, the Governor presented a bill to disband Reedy Creek.[3] Last month, Disney brought a legal action against DeSantis, alleging that he dissolved the Reedy Creek district as a form of retaliation against the company for exercising its rights under the First Amendment.[4] Last year, the company opposed the Parental Rights in Education law, which restricts classroom discussion on gender identity and sexual orientation, prompting DeSantis to blast it as too “woke.”

The appointment of Gilzean as district administrator comes as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board approved Resolution No. They have the authority to establish a citation enforcement program and designate a special magistrate for appeals under statute 642.[5] Enforcement officers can levy fines on “all groups and legal entities” in the District for noncompliance with rules and regulations through this program.[5] The board is also expected to move on a plan to create a mechanism for the district to “provide a non-exclusive method to enforce its resolutions, regulations, rules, and codes.” This enforcement citation program would allow the district to make violations of its resolutions, regulations, rules, and codes subject to one of four classes of fines unless a particular resolution, regulation, rule, or code provisions designate a different fine amount.[6] The penalties would vary between $75 and $500.[0] The administrator would have the option to impose a lien on a property in case district fines remain unpaid.[0]

In their lawsuit, Disney Parks & Resorts cites “a targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech.” The plaintiff further argues that this chronology of events “threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”

The appointment of Gilzean would mean that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District’s board and administrator are all hand-picked allies of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.[7] While Gilzean will have a challenging role, which includes being the focus of a lawsuit, he has previously served as the President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, an organization tasked with ending generational poverty and promoting equality.[8]

0. “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to Appoint DeSantis Ally as Administrator and Create Enforcement Code for …” DAPS MAGIC, 9 May. 2023,

1. “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Hires New Administrator to Oversee Area Around Walt Disney World” DAPS MAGIC, 10 May. 2023,

2. “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District names new leader to oversee Disney-area” The Business Journals, 10 May. 2023,

3. “DeSantis-Backed Board Officially Takes Over Disney World Property” Inside the Magic, 10 May. 2023,

4. “Disney World governing board hires new administrator with $400K salary” Florida Politics, 10 May. 2023,

5. “DeSantis’ CFTOD Board Passes Enforcement Citation Program Resolution to Issue Fines to ‘All Groups & Legal Entities …” WDW News Today, 10 May. 2023,

6. “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to Name New District Administrator and Create Code to Enforce Penalties” Laughing Place, 9 May. 2023,

7. “Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to meet after state OKs new law to empower the board” The Business Journals, 5 May. 2023,

8. “Ron DeSantis ally Glen Gilzean to be paid a $400000 salary to be new administrator of Walt Disney World’s governing …”, 9 May. 2023,,000-salary-to-be-new-administrator-of-walt-disney-worlds-governing-district-.htm

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