A new report indicates that a previously proposed amendment that would have permitted Florida regulators to conduct attraction inspections at major Florida theme parks, including Walt Disney World, and eliminated their exemption from the state’s ride-safety rules was theorized by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as part of his longstanding fight with Disney. Seeking Rents writer Jason Garcia shared the news as part of his newsletter on November 16.
Report Indicates Ron DeSantis Planned Amendment
Florida House of Representatives member Lawrence McClure proposed the amendment that “would have given state regulators the power to conduct ride inspections at Florida’s biggest theme parks” and force them to “abide by the same ride-safety rules as smaller attractions” in April. The proposal gained no traction and was quickly dropped.
Garcia recently obtained documents that suggest the proposal, though proposed by McClure, was actually the idea of DeSantis. Records show “that an aide to DeSantis sent the precise language for the amendment to McClure’s office just a few hours before [he] filed it.”
What would become the amendment proposal was reportedly not written to McClure in the body of an email; the specific language was allegedly highlighted on a physical sheet of paper and attached to an email in the form of a scanned document “identified only by what appears to be an automated filename assigned to it by the scanner.”
Garcia notes that sending information this way would prevent it from being traceable through a keyword search.
The reporter also notes that, just a few days after the proposal and dismissal of this amendment, DeSantis stated his intentions to implement state inspections of Walt Disney World attractions and the Monorail. Garcia notes that DeSantis later clarified that any potential legislation regarding state inspections at theme parks would only apply to parks situated within special districts (presumably allowing Universal Orlando Resort and other major theme parks in the region to continue operating under the preexisting rules).
The Walt Disney Company updated its lawsuit against DeSantis in May to include language that described the governor’s “recent legal decisions” as “retaliatory and unconstitutional in nature.”
Disney vs. DeSantis & CFTOD
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.
Now-former CEO Bob Chapek initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from Cast Members, the LGBTQ+ community, and controversy over Disney making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus. Former and future CEO Bob Iger also condemned the law.
After Chapek finally denounced the law, Governor DeSantis moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Ultimately, the District was renamed and DeSantis appointed his own Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors.
DeSantis is attacking what he calls “woke politics” allegedly invading the state — frequently stating his intention to put the people of Florida first through his actions and via the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District:
Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.
After the CFTOD Board attempted to declare Disney’s final agreements with RCID null and void, Disney filed a federal lawsuit against the Board and DeSantis, calling their actions a violation of their constitutional rights.
In the lawsuit, Disney cites “A targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”
Disney regrets that it has come to this. But having exhausted efforts to seek a resolution, the Company is left with no choice but to file this lawsuit to protect its cast members, guests, and local development partners from a relentless campaign to weaponize government power against Disney in retaliation for expressing a political viewpoint unpopular with certain State officials.
The Board then filed a state lawsuit against Disney. The company is now countersuing on the state level, arguing that because RCID was never actually dissolved, the CFOTD is essentially the same entity and is returning to its word.
DeSantis said that the state of Florida had “won the battle” against Disney in a mid-November interview.