In a press conference today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a variety of potential changes coming down the pipeline for Walt Disney World though legal changes via the newly established Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.
DeSantis claimed the “11th hour” agreement created by the Reedy Creek Improvement District was full of “a plethora of legal infirmities that render them void.” He stated his intention to examine lands included within the Reedy Creek District for public use, including the possibility of state parks, additional theme parks, or a State Penitentiary.
A Lengthy Public Battle
DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company have been embroiled in a public feud now for over a year. DeSantis started this lengthy fight against the Walt Disney World Resort after the company’s previous CEO, Bob Chapek, spoke out against Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Starting with the takeover and renaming of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board is now staffed with members handpicked by DeSantis and aims to control how Walt Disney World Resort functions, builds, and maintains its infrastructure. One of these members is Ron Peri, known for calling homosexuality evil and claiming it is caused by drinking contaminated tap water.
DeSantis to Add State Inspections of Monorails and Rides
DeSantis claimed that Walt Disney World Resort is no longer “above the law,” and would be subject to state inspections of the Monorail and the attractions within the parks.
The Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson stated: “This legislation will allow my department to conduct inspections when someone is seriously injured on an amusement ride. Thankfully it doesn’t happen that often in Florida, but when it does we have the right to inspect and decide when it can safely reopen.”
While “all major theme parks” was mentioned during this discussion, they did not clarify if these measures would extend to other currently exempted properties, including Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Orlando.
‘There’s a New Sheriff in Town’
These controlling measures are in regards to the February 8 agreement between Disney and the former Reedy Creek Board before Governor DeSantis placed the special administrative district under his own direct control. The deal, approved at meetings publicly announced in accordance with state law, essentially ensured an additional 30 years of relative status quo, allowing Disney similar guarantees the corporation had before the Governor signed the Reedy Creek takeover bill into law.
Despite Disney’s legality claims, the new Board has announced plans for a new resolution of “Superior Authority” over the district. The area includes the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, covering an area similar in size to the City of San Francisco. A meeting of the Board on April 19 is set to be the forum of discussion for this proposed resolution.
No More ‘Indoctrination’ From Disney
State House District 45 Representative Carolina Amesty also took to the podium to share her opinions and concerns. She greeted the audience with a proclamation to “let it be known, in this great nation, here, in the free state of Florida, it is ‘We the People,’ not ‘woke’ corporations.”
She went on to make the following comment regarding Disney’s leadership and recent business practices:
We all love Disney; however, you cannot indoctrinate our childrens [sic]. Instead, they have turned Disney into this corporate PR arm of a small group of extremists who want to indoctrinate our children with radical gender ideologies that have no basis in science, common sense, or basic human decency. They have pushed far-left narratives and lies about our great state and now they think that the rules don’t apply to them.Carolina Amesty
In addition to Amesty, several other local figures spoke in support of DeSantis’ plans and potential resolutions during the press conference.
Watch the full release using the video above.
Two small towns fall within Disney’s Reedy Creek district. According to the 2020 census, Bay Lake had 29 residents and Lake Buena Vista had 24. The two municipalities were formed to support the legal framework of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was established by the Florida Legislature in 1967. Should DeSantis’ resolutions pass, the state will take control of these small cities as well.
Iger Amenable to Resolution
At this month’s annual Disney shareholder meeting, current CEO Bob Iger accused Gov. DeSantis of punishing Disney for exercising their right to free speech. “We love the state of Florida,” Iger said in addition, recalling the company’s many investments in the community over the years. He also expressed gratitude for previous cooperation alongside the Sunshine State’s elected government officials before stating that “any action that thwarts these efforts simply to retaliate is anti-business and anti-Florida.” Iger also announced the company’s plan to invest an additional $17 billion and create over 13,000 jobs in the State of Florida over the next ten years.
What are your thoughts on these most recent developments? We’d love to see your opinions in the comments below.