Orlando Florida –
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and a Florida congressman stepped up pressure on Walt Disney World on Monday by announcing legislation that uses the Florida government’s regulatory powers to exercise unprecedented control over resort and monorail rides.
DeSantis said at a press conference near Disney World that lawmakers will introduce legislation in the coming weeks that would end the exemption of Disney parks from inspections by the Florida Department of Health for Agricultural and Consumer Services.
The Agricultural Agency is responsible for vetting rides in Florida, but an exception is made for the state’s largest theme park operators, such as Disney and Universal Destinations & Experiences, who perform their own safety checks. Under the proposal, the exemption would end for rides in special government areas, primarily intended for Disney World only.
Disney said in a statement Monday that its inspectors are leaders in the industry. Other experts note that Disney and other major theme park operators have experience vetting high-end rides that state or local agencies may not have.
I Married a Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando, said Richard Fuglesong, professor emeritus at Rollins College, who wrote a definitive description of the Disney World race in his book. ”
“You need inspectors who have the kind of experience that I think they have,” he said of the inspectors who are currently inspecting Disney rides.
DeSantis’ announcement was the latest in a tit-for-tat deal between Disney and the governor that began last year when the entertainment giant publicly opposed state legislation called “Don’t Say Like Me” that bans school education about sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. In response, Florida lawmakers passed, and DeSantis signed, legislation reorganizing the government of company-controlled Disney World, allowing the governor to appoint the five members of the Board of Supervisors. The board of directors was previously controlled by Disney.
Last month, DeSantis’ new employees claimed that their predecessors who controlled Disney quickly pulled out by stripping the new board of most powers and giving Disney control over the park’s design and construction.
DeSantis said Monday that the deal between Disney and the former superintendents was illegal, saying it was a personal deal and no proper notice was given before it was approved by the old board. The governor also said that MPs have the power to overrule and will consider passing legislation to do so next week.
“They talked about a development deal that would make everything we did null and void,” DeSantis said. “Well, that won’t work. It won’t fly.”
In its statement, Disney said the agreement builds on a comprehensive plan approved by state officials last summer.
The governor also suggested that the new council sell the area’s facilities to pay off the region’s $1 billion debt and ensure that Disney World will never have a mask mandate again, as it did after closing and then reopening during the first year of the COVID-19 virus spread.
By taking on Disney, DeSantis cemented his reputation as a cultural warrior willing to fight political opponents and wield state government power to achieve political goals. It is a strategy he will likely follow in his 2024 presidential run for the White House.
To an extent, DeSantis suggested on Monday that the new council or lawmakers could take other steps with the 27,000-acre (10,926-hectare) Central Florida estate, such as building a state park, a competing amusement park or a jail.
“I think the possibilities are endless,” DeSantis said.
By having to pass another Disney governance bill, Foglesong said, DeSantis and lawmakers could tacitly acknowledge that the deal between the previous board of directors and the company was valid.
In addition, it is unusual for a potential Republican presidential candidate to take on a large company and try to organize it further, like DeSantis for Disney, he said.
“He talks like a socialist Bernie,” Foglesong said, referring to American Bernie Sanders from Vermont. What Republican candidate talks like that? »