In a new statement released today, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reiterated his commitment to reclaiming management of the land that is home to Walt Disney World from the company-administered Reedy Creek Improvement District.
He stated that the newly revealed Disney contracts are invalid under the law and that even if they were valid, “Florida statutes provide the authority to revoke development agreements in this exact instance.” This afternoon at a press conference at the Reedy Creek building in Lake Buena Vista, he said that the state “will make sure the agreements are revoked and the people’s will is established and upheld.”
What kind of effect could that have on the Mouse House? The governor seemed to enjoy running down a list of potential solutions, including increased safety inspections (he singled out the WDW monorail), better pay for emergency personnel, more affordable housing for park employees, and an end to “medical authoritarian policies” like mandating that visitors wear face masks.
He speculated on the potential for building on land in the Disney-free district. The general public is asking, “Well, what should we do with this land?” Make it a state park if you want. You may try visiting more theme parks. Maybe you do need another state pris0n, someone said.
“Who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless.”
Disney has refused to comment.
Earlier this year, former CEO Bob Chapek publicly opposed the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gἀy” bill, which put him at odds with the governor. Disney’s historic independence at Reedy Creek was revoked by a decision of the Florida legislature.
To get past DeSantis and the new District board he chose, Disney had the old board enact long-term development deals. The deal was public knowledge, but it caught the newly elected board by surprise.
Bob Iger, the current CEO of Disney, recently criticized DeSantis during the company’s annual meeting. Iger pointed out that the region in question used to be a swamp until Walt Disney created it. We’re big fans of Florida, he declared.
And I think that’s reflected in the amount we’ve invested over the past 50 years, as well as the amount we’ve given back in the form of jobs and community service taxes, which you brought up, tourism, of course, and all sorts of other responsible business activities.
Take a look at what people are saying about the Pris0n being built near Disney:
DeSantis openly speculating about what the state could build next to Walt Disney World:
“Someone even said, maybe you need another state prison…” pic.twitter.com/dlZ2r2OAqZ
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) April 17, 2023
We have always held the state in high regard and appreciated all it has done for us, but our relationship with the government has always been a give-and-take. The state has apparently given its blessing to the Disney development pact, according to those in the know.
Regarding safety, the source stated that Disney has been a pioneer in the industry and is constantly innovating new procedures and best practices, such as a state-wide memorandum requiring quarterly reporting of any serious ride-related injuries and immediate reporting of fatalities, and biannual site visits and reviews.
About 1,300 affordable apartments will be built on almost 80 acres of land that WDW will donate to the Central Florida region in 2022. At a press conference, the governor remarked, “there has been a lot of talk, but very little follow-through” on housing.
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Disney paid $1.146 billion in state and local taxes in 2016, making it the state’s highest taxpayer. DeSantis has also mocked the fact that Disney is being given the freedom to conduct its own valuation of its own properties. According to the source, Disney does not conduct its own property assessments but instead relies on the Orange County tax assessor or the Osceola County tax assessor to do so each year.
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