Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings issued a statement following the news that Disney would not be moving forward with the Lake Nona headquarters for its theme park division. In the statement, Demings places the blame squarely on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis:
It is unfortunate that Disney will not be moving forward with construction of the Lake Nona campus. However, these are the consequences when there isn’t an inclusive and collaborative work environment between the state of Florida and the business community. We will continue to work closely with our valued partners at Disney.
Following retaliatory action from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and a rubber-stamp legislature, Disney has added Florida to a list of legal threats to the Company’s operations. Florida joins a list of international political, trade, and security policy threats like the ongoing actions by Russia, threats to Hong Kong by China, and instability in France.
There are two high-profile lawsuits currently in the courts that take aim at a Development Agreement that Disney entered into with the previous Board of Supervisors of the then-named Reedy Creek Improvement District.
One lawsuit was filed by Disney World against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District (CFTOD) Board of Supervisors, among others. The lawsuit asks the court to recognize the Development Agreement as valid and to recognize the series of events and bills that led to the State takeover of the Reedy Creek Improvement District as a violation of the First Amendment rights of the Company. Ultimately, Disney wants the State takeover of the RCID to be undone.
In a separate lawsuit, the CFTOD is seeing Disney World, asking the court to recognize the Development Agreement as null and void, citing a series of contract infirmities.
A State Prison at Disney World?
Beyond the Development Agreement, DeSantis has threatened to build a State prison at Walt Disney World. In an April 17th press conference, DeSantis floated some ideas on how CFTOD could use its land should the Development Agreement be determined to be null and void. It sounds farfetched, but DeSantis floated the idea among a list of other ideas for land use such as building more amusement parks in the immediate area next to Disney World.
What should we do with this land? And so, you know, it’s like, ok, kids – I mean, people have said, you know, maybe have another – maybe create a state park. Maybe try to do more amusement parks. Someone even said, like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows? I mean, I just think that the possibilities are endless.
Legislation Might Over Legal Proceedings
On May 5th, DeSantis decided to get ahead of the pending court cases and simply sign a law to nullify the Development Agreement in what appears to be a flexing of executive might. Instead of relying on the court system to agree with the legal arguments of why the Development Agreement should be nullified, DeSantis signed SB 1604, a land use bill with a narrowly written amendment from Republican legislators to nullify the Development Agreement legislatively.
Following the stroke of the Governor’s pen, Disney World amended its lawsuit to include the bill in its argument against the state.
State Inspections of Monorail System
The latest action from DeSantis is signing a bill that Disney calls “precision-engineered”. HB 1305 is a bill that says the Florida Department of Transportation shall create safety standards and inspections of the Walt Disney World monorail system.
To Invest or Not?
In a recent earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke out to “set the record straight” on Disney’s position on the ongoing fight with DeSantis and Florida Republicans. At the end of his long answer, which you can read in its entirety below, Iger simply asks “does the state want us to invest more, employ more people and pay more taxes or not?”
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!