ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — After employees mounted strong backlash to the plan to replace family Disney annual passes with a stipend, Central Florida Tourism Oversight District leaders caved slightly and announced they were going back to the drawing board.
The passes had been a well-known perk of working for the district, which until this year was known as Reedy Creek and controlled by Disney. The firefighters, maintenance workers and other employees were given free annual passes to the parks, much like some actual Disney employees, and were allowed to maintain that perk after their retirement.
It proved to be a strong draw, but costly. The new board, seeking to find ways to pay millions of dollars for its ongoing legal battles against the company, announced the ending of the perk a few weeks ago. While it was initially explained as a move to comply with ethics laws, documents and statements revealed the reasoning to be cost savings.
Board members said most employees didn’t utilize the perk and said they would replace it with a stipend that would cover the cost of an annual pass or be available for any other use.
However, ex-employees, as well as ones with larger families, complained, saying the memories created at the park were special.
During a meeting Wednesday evening, CFTOD Administrator Glen Gilzean said after meeting with employees, the district would reexamine the stipend and raise the allowance. He said a new figure would be announced at the end of September.
Furthermore, he said the district was exploring allowing employees to purchase their annual passes from Disney under a company-led partner program.
Board member Bridget Ziegler added to Gilzean’s comments, thanking employees for sticking with the district and working hard despite the difficult transition period and ongoing lawsuits.
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