Disney World – Role Model for Self-Governing Entities

Go Lean Commentary

The Caribbean enjoys 80 million annual visitors, among its 30 member-states and vast cruise line industry. Impressive!

But one destination in Florida, Walt Disney World, hosted 47.5 million visitors (2009) … alone.[b]

There are lessons for the Caribbean to learn from this experience.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to glean insight from the Walt Disney World history and experience. This is a huge subject in itself and is an appropriate topic for academic research, dissertations and business improvement books. But for this blog/commentary, there is a narrow focus, the special consideration of the “Self Governing Entity” that emerged from the Reedy Creek Improvement District that facilitated the construction and administration of the landmass that became the Walt Disney World Resort. The following encyclopedic details apply to this study:

CU Blog - Disney World - Role Model for a Self Governing Entity - Photo 1The Walt Disney World Resort, informally known as Walt Disney World or simply Disney World, is an entertainment complex in Bay Lake, Florida (mailing address is Lake Buena Vista, Florida), near Orlando, Florida and is the flagship of Disney’s worldwide theme park empire. The resort opened on October 7, 1971 and, according to Forbes Magazine, is the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an attendance of 52.5 million annually. It is owned and operated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, a division of The Walt Disney Company. The property covers 27,258 acres (11,031 ha; 43 sq mi), in which it houses 27 themed resort hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, one camping resort, one residential area and additional recreational and entertainment venues. MagicKingdom was the first and original theme park to open in the complex followed by EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom which opened later throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

CU Blog - Disney World - Role Model for a Self Governing Entity - Photo 2Designed to supplement Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which had opened in 1955, the complex was developed by Walt Disney in the 1960s, though he died in 1966 before construction on “The Florida Project” began. After extensive lobbying, the Government of Florida created the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a special government district that essentially gave The Walt Disney Company the standard powers and autonomy of an incorporated city. Original plans called for the inclusion of an “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow” (EPCOT), a planned city that would serve as a test bed for new innovations for city living.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) is the immediate governing jurisdiction for the land of the Walt Disney World Resort. As of the late 1990s, it comprised an area of 38.6 sq mi (100 km2) within the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties in Florida. The RCID includes the cities of BayLake and LakeBuena Vista, and unincorporated RCID land.CU Blog - Disney World - Role Model for a Self Governing Entity - Photo 3

After the success of Disneyland in California, Walt Disney began planning a second park on the East Coast. He disliked the businesses that had sprung up around Disneyland, and therefore wanted control of a much larger area of land for the new project. Walt Disney knew that his plans for the land would be easier to carry out with more independence. Among his ideas for his Florida project was his proposed EPCOT which was to be a futuristic planned city. He envisioned a real working city with both commercial and residential areas, but one that also continued to showcase and test new ideas and concepts for urban living.

Therefore, the Disney Company petitioned the Florida State Legislature for the creation of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which would have almost total autonomy within its borders.
Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia  (Retrieved November 2, 2014) –

50 Year Historic Timeline:


Walt Disney announces Florida Project


Walt Disney dies of lung cancer at age 65


Construction of Walt Disney World Resort begins


Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Resort
Disney’s Fort    Wilderness Resort &   Campground
Roy O. Disney dies at age 78


Disney’s Village Resort


The Golf Resort




Walt Disney Village Marketplace


Disney’s River Country


Walt Disney World  ConferenceCenter




The Disney Inn


Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney’s Caribbean  Beach Resort


Disney-MGM Studios
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon


Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort
Walt Disney World Swan
Walt Disney World Dolphin


Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter
Disney Vacation Club
Disney’s Old Key West Resort


Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside (Dixie Landings)
Bonnet Creek Golf Club


Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Shades of Green


Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
Disney’s Blizzard Beach
Disney’s Fairy Tale Wedding Pavilion
Walt Disney World Speedway


Disney Institute
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and BoardWalk Villas


Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex
Downtown Disney West Side


Disney’s Animal Kingdom


Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort


The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge


Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge


Disney’s Beach Club Villas


Disney’s Pop Century Resort


Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa


Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas


Disney-MGM Studios is renamed Disney’s Hollywood Studios


Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Treehouse Villas


Golden Oak at Walt Disney World Resort


Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
Phase 1 of New Fantasyland


The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa


Phase 2 of New Fantasyland

Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia (Retrieved November 2, 2014) –

The economic impact of Walt Disney World as a Self-Governing Entity (SGE) is undeniable. The resort is responsible for $18.2 billion in annual economic activity in Florida, said a study released by the theme park giant. The study found that Disney paid out nearly $1.8 billion in compensation to more than 59,000 workers in 2009.[a]

The Go Lean roadmap seek to emulate some of the strategies, tactics and implementation successes of the Walt Disney World as a SGE. This roadmap seeks to elevate the 30 Caribbean member-states with economic engines (direct and indirect spin-off activities), by assuming jurisdiction for Self-Governing Entities in the region and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the 1,063,000 square miles of the Caribbean Sea. This approach allows for initiation, cooperation and coordination of SGE’s (and the EEZ) to effectuate change in the region, allowing these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion GDP and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines, specifically in SGE’s and the EEZ.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

Imagine many Disney World-style industrial developments, (not necessarily as touristic resorts), throughout the Caribbean region.

Wow! This is a game-changer.

The individual Walter Elias Disney (1901 – 1966) proved to be a game-changer. The Go Lean book posits that one person can make a difference and positively impact society; so the book advocates for a community ethos of investment in the “gifts” that individuals “bring to the table”. The book identifies the quality of geniuses and relates worthwhile returns from their investments. This mode of study allows us to consider this example of contributions from Walt Disney and his corporate/artistic creations:

 Video: The History of Walt Disney World – http://youtu.be/_6Kesbfg-Ok

The book Go Lean … Caribbean asserts that SGE’s and the EEZ can be strategic, tactical and operationally efficient for elevating Caribbean society. These points are pronounced early in the book with this Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 11 and 14), with these statements:

v.        Whereas the natural formation of our landmass and coastlines entail a large portion of waterscapes, the reality of management of our interior calls for extended oversight of the waterways between the islands. The internationally accepted 12-mile limits for national borders must be extended by International Tribunals to encompass the areas in between islands. The individual states must maintain their 12-mile borders while the sovereignty of this expanded area, the Exclusive Economic Zone, must be vested in the accedence of this Federation.

xxvi.      Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries… In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism … impacting the region with more jobs.

The subject of SGE’s has been directly addressed and further elaborated upon in these previous blog/commentaries:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2338 Using SGE’s to Welcome the Dreaded ‘Plutocracy’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2003 Where the Jobs Are – Ship-breaking under SGE Structure
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1214 Fairgrounds as SGE and Landlords for Sports Leagues
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=286 Puerto Rico’s Comprehensive Cancer Center Project Breaks Ground – Model of Medical SGE

The Go Lean book itself details the economic principles and community ethos to adopt, plus the executions of strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to forge Self-Governing Entities and industrial growth in the Caribbean:

Economic Principles – People Choose because Resources are Limited Page 21
Economic Principles – All Choices Involve Costs Page 21
Economic Principles – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Economic Principles – Economic Systems Influence Individual Choices Page 21
Economic Principles – Voluntary Trade Creates Wealth Page 21
Economic Principles – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – “Crap” Happens Page 23
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Return on Investments (ROI) Page 24
Community Ethos – Cooperatives Page 25
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Help Entrepreneurship Page 28
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Research & Development Page 30
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Negotiations Page 32
Community Ethos – Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederating 30 Member-states in a Union Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Build   and Foster Local Economic Engines Page 45
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Tactical – Growing Economy – New High Multiplier Industries Page 68
Separation of Powers – Department of State – Self-Governing Entities Page 80
Separation of Powers – Interior Department – Exclusive Economic Zone Page 82
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change – SGE Licenses Page 101
Implementation – Steps to Implement Self-Governing Entities Page 103
Anecdote – French Guiana Space Agency – Example of a SGE Page 103
Implementation   – Benefits from the Exclusive Economic Zone Page 104
Planning – 10 Big Ideas – Self-Governing Entities Page 127
Planning – Ways to Improve Interstate Commerce Page 129
Planning – Lessons from New York City Page 137
Planning – Lessons from Omaha Page 138
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage Natural Resources – EEZ and SGE’s Page 183
Anecdote – Caribbean Industrialist & Entrepreneur Role Model Page 189
Advocacy – Ways to Promote Fairgrounds Page 192
Advocacy – Ways to Develop Ship-Building as SGE’s Page 209
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Prison Industrial Complex as SGE’s Page 211
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the One Percent – Job Creators Inducements Page 224
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Urban Living – Self-Governing Entities Page 234
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Rural Living – Self-Governing Entities Page 235
Advocacy – Ways to Promote World-Heritage-Sites as SGE’s Page 248
Appendix – Airport Cities – Models for Self Governing Entities Page 287

There is a role for the contributions of one impactful person, or one impactful company, in this vision for the elevation and empowerment of the Caribbean homeland. The Go Lean … Caribbean roadmap invites these contributions. However, the roadmap also mitigates the threats of corporate abuse of a plutocracy. With the right applications from people, tools and techniques many SGE initiatives can have a positive impact in changing society, with minimal risks and threats of negative consequences. Walt Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District have demonstrated how successful SGE’s can be.

Thank you Walt Disney. Thanks for showing us the way, for providing a role model that we can emulate for our own success.

Change has come to the Caribbean. Everyone is hereby urged to lean-in to this roadmap to make the Caribbean a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – Source References:

a. Retrieved November 3, 2014 from: http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2011/04/14/disneys-annual-economic-impact-182b.html

b. 2009 Attendance Walt Disney World’s 1. Magic Kingdom: 17.2 million 2. Epcot: 11.0 million 3. Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9.7 million 4. Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 9.6 million. Retrieved November 3, 2014 from: http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201004/1895/


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