In a press conference this afternoon at the Reedy Creek Improvement District administration building, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his next steps in the fight with Walt Disney World. During the press conference, DeSantis outlined and hypothesized about what his hand-selected Board of Supervisors could do with the power of the Florida Legislature behind them. The State also floated the idea of creating legislation to allow for State inspections of Disney World rides. Buckle up, this will be a long one.
DeSantis started by saying that while the State of Florida was busy trying to take over the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney took steps to try and undermine the will of the people by creating a long-term development agreement with the former Board of Supervisors of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. DeSantis said that Disney entered into a Development Agreement that would “essentially render everything that we did null and void”. It was a move by Disney that many media outlets picked up and said was an outmaneuvering of the Governor. Now, DeSantis wants to strike back.
Development Agreements “Null and Void”
DeSantis said that the Development Agreement that Disney entered into with RCID has a “plethora of legal infirmities” that would “render them void anyways”.
So, what is the Development Agreement that Disney and RCID entered into? The Development Agreement, which is common amongst master planned projects such as The Villages and Sunbridge, allows for certainty regarding future development plans. In this Development Agreement, publically posted minutes from the meeting describe the agreement as an assurance between Disney and RCID that development over the next 30 years would be consistent with RCID Comprehensive Plans and Land Development Regulations. The minutes say that the development agreements meet all of the statutory requirements set forth by Florida Law.
However, because the agreement was approved by the prior Board, it means that the current Board would be relatively toothless for the next few decades. That wasn’t going to sit well with DeSantis.
DeSantis said that the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors will act to take the District out of the Agreement, but noted that even if the District doesn’t act, they have the law on their side. DeSantis cites Florida Statue Chapter 163, subsection 163.3241, saying that it allows the state to undo development agreements like the one Disney entered into with RCID. Here’s the text of that statute:
If state or federal laws are enacted after the execution of a development agreement which are applicable to and preclude the parties’ compliance with the terms of a development agreement, such agreement shall be modified or revoked as is necessary to comply with the relevant state or federal laws.
A State Prison at Disney World?
DeSantis also talked about restrictive covenants that were part of an agreement between Disney and RCID. In the covenants, which infamously included the “King Charles Clause“, there were restrictions put in place on how the Reedy Creek land that isn’t owned by Disney World could be used. In short, Disney World wanted the final say. DeSantis says that he wants the Board to have the say and floated some ideas for how the District would develop the land.
DeSantis said that people have floated ideas on how to use the land such as creating a state park, creating more amusement parks, or even creating a state prison.
New State-Run Ride Inspections
As part of the press conference, the newly elected Commissioner of Agriculture Wilton Simpson talked about further steps that the State could take to get its hands into Disney’s operations. Simpson said that there is a proposal from DeSantis and the Florida Legislature that would allow the State to have a new inspection process for Disney World attractions. Currently, Disney World is one of a handful of theme park operators that are exempt from inspections but must report injuries to the state. Other theme park operators included in the 2001 “MOU Exempt Facilities” list include SeaWorld, Universal Orlando, Busch Gardens, and Legoland. When pressed about how the Legislature might target Disney World and not other large area attractions such as Univeral, SeaWorld, or Legoland, DeSantis said that the law would be drawn to only target special districts, aka just Walt Disney World.
The next action that we’ll cover will be the April 19th Board of Supervisors meeting where some of the bite will be introduced to back up DeSantis’ bark. During today’s press conference, Board Chair Martin Garcia was in attendance, and DeSantis promised more action from the Board this Wednesday. BlogMickey.com has previously covered plans by the Board to introduce a “Superior Authority” amendment and discuss the possible criminal investigation into RCID and Walt Disney World.
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!