DeSantis putting more pressure on Disney with state oversight

Orlando, FL –

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida legislators increased pressure on Walt Disney World on Monday by announcing a bill that would use the Florida government’s regulatory powers to put unprecedented oversight of rides and monorails at Park Resorts. .

DeSantis said at a press conference near Disney World that Congress plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks that would end the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ exemption from vehicle inspections at Disney parks.

The Department of Agriculture is responsible for inspecting Florida’s amusement park rides, but exceptions were made for the state’s largest theme park operators, including Disney and Universal Destinations & Experiences, which conduct their own safety inspections. Under the proposal, the exemption would end for rides in special government districts, which are essentially Disney World only.

Disney said in a statement Monday that its inspectors are industry leaders. He points out that he has expertise in examining sophisticated vehicles that may not be available.

Professor Emeritus at Rollins College and author of Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando.

“We need inspectors with the kind of expertise I think,” he said of the inspectors currently inspecting Disney vehicles.

DeSantis’ announcement comes as a back-and-forth between Disney and the governor, which began last year when Disney publicly opposed so-called “don’t say gay” laws in states banning schools about sexual orientation and gender identity. was the latest in From kindergarten to third grade. In retaliation, Florida lawmakers passed a bill to reorganize the Disney World company-controlled government, which DeSantis signed, allowing the governor to appoint five members of the oversight board. The Society was previously managed by Disney.

Last month, the new DeSantis appointees stripped most of the powers from the new board, giving Disney control over the design and construction of theme park resorts. He claimed to have made a quick decision by giving

DeSantis argued on Monday that the agreement between Disney and the previous supervisor was illegal, self-dealing, and that proper notice was not given before the previous board’s approval. Lawmakers have the power to overturn it and said they would consider legislation next week.

“They talked about a development agreement that voids everything we’ve done,” DeSantis said. “Well, that won’t work. It won’t fly.”

Disney said in a statement that the deal builds on a comprehensive plan that state officials approved last summer.

The governor also said the new board will pay off the district’s $1 billion debt and ensure that Disney World never has mask mandates again, as it did after it closed and reopened in the first year of COVID. , proposed that the district’s utilities should be sold-19 virus spread.

By fighting Disney, DeSantis increased his reputation as a cultural warrior who fought political opponents to achieve his political goals and wielded state government power. It’s a strategy he will likely follow through his upcoming White House run in 2024.

DeSantis said Monday, somewhat jokingly, that the new board or legislators will take other actions on Disney’s 27,000-acre (10,926-hectare) property in central Florida, including building a state park, a competing theme park, or a prison. suggested that it could be

“I think the possibilities are endless,” DeSantis said.

By having to pass another piece of legislation on Disney’s governance, DeSantis and lawmakers could be tacitly acknowledging that the agreement between the previous board and the company was in effect, he said. Foglesong said.

Plus, he said it’s unusual for a potential Republican presidential candidate to target a big business and try to further regulate it, as DeSantis is doing to Disney.

“He talks like Bernie the Socialist,” Foglesong said, referring to Vermont’s Bernie Sanders. “Which Republican nominee for major office speaks like this?”

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