Mind Blown: Disney World Is Technically Its Own City With Its Own Residents
This might be our favorite fun fact about Disney World.
If there’s one thing we can’t get enough of, it’s fun facts about Disney World. And luckily for us, The Most Magical Place on Earth is a certifiable treasure trove of interesting factoids, like their time-saving reason for banning over-the-sink mirrors in the bathrooms and why they paint trashcans a particular shade of green.
But those things are small potatoes compared to the sizeable piece of knowledge Apartment Therapy recently bubbled up: the fact that Disney World is its own city with its own government.
It all started in 1965, when, looking to parlay the success of Disneyland into another year-round theme park, Walt Disney and his business partners purchased 27,000 acres (approximately 40 square miles) of land in Orlando, Florida. They reportedly paid just $5 million for the land, which, as Apartment Therapy points out, translates to roughly $40 million in today’s dollars—a bargain by any standard.
But as they got further into the project, they found that owning land spanning two counties (Orange and Osceola) meant dealing with two different local governments. Eventually, they decided that in order to quietly pull off their dream without bureaucratic red tape, they’d need to create Disney’s own self-regulating municipality within a special district.
With some savvy legal work, Reedy Creek Improvement District was established in 1967 by the Florida Legislature at the request of Walt Disney himself. To this day, Reedy Creek Improvement District includes the cities of Bay Lake (where the Disney theme parks are located) and Lake Buena Vista (previously known as Reedy Creek, where you’ll find Downtown Disney and the park hotels).
“Reedy Creek was granted most of the powers typically held by cities and counties in Florida, including the ability to write building codes, sell tax-free bonds, produce electricity, condemn property and kill mosquitoes, “ the Orlando Sentinel explained in 2015. The whole thing is run by a government board that technically functions as a democracy—with elections and everything.
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And that’s not all. According to another article in the Sentinel, as of 2015, the district housed 44 residents between two gated mobile-home parks. The residents of Reedy Creek—all Disney World employees and their children—are handpicked by the company. Each owns their mobile home and pays Disney $75 a month to rent the lot space. In exchange, the residents provide the votes needed on issues such as approval of bonds for park improvements.
"It's really just a nice situation all around," Morgan Palfreyman, a Disney facility-asset-management employee who lives in Bay Lake with his wife and their seven children told the Sentinel "I have no intent of moving at any time."
And we can’t say we blame him!