(CBrief) – If Disney wants to play games with Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis the governor will play back.
During a press conference this week, now that the state controls the land that Disney is on, the governor proposed the idea of building a state prison near the park.
“Come to think of it, what should we do with this land?” the Florida governor said. “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 just think that the possibilities are endless.”
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
This month DeSantis said this week he is planning new legislative and administrative actions against the Walt Disney Co. after it secretly negotiated an agreement with an outgoing management board to retain control over the vast swaths of land surrounding its Orlando theme park site.
“Come hell or high water, we’re going to make sure that policy of Florida carries the day. And so, they can keep trying to do things. But ultimately, we’re going to win on every single issue involving Disney, I can tell you that,” DeSantis said during a speech this week. “They are not superior to the people of Florida.”
DeSantis, along with the GOP-controlled legislature, is threatening to levy new tolls on roads leading into the park as well as additional taxes on Disney’s hotels.
“The Republican governor also vowed the state legislature, which his party controls, would undo Disney’s agreements with the oversight board it controlled before authority switched to a board DeSantis appointed,” the Daily Mail reported.
Disney had struck a deal that granted it control over development for the next 30 years, but officials in the DeSantis administration have raised concerns that the agreement violates the state’s growth laws. According to Politico, one of the laws specifies that development agreements must be modified or revoked to conform to laws, even if the laws are enacted after the agreement is made.
“Disney is refusing to stand down – saying all its actions were within Florida’s law – and DeSantis was left grasping when the last-minute deals the company cut came to light,” the Daily Mail noted further.
The GOP governor acknowledged that Disney utilized an obscure legal provision connected to King Charles III to circumvent his takeover bid, but he refuted suggestions that the theme park company deceived him.
“They’re acting like somehow that they pulled one over on the state – there’ll be a lot of that coming out of the next month or two, but suffice it to say, you know, the legislature is going to void anything Disney did on the way out the door,” he noted.
The governor’s feud with Disney began when the company’s then-CEO, Bob Chapek, publicly came out in opposition of a legislative proposal — now a law — that forbade schools from teaching children in K-3 about sexual orientation and gender identity. Critics misnamed the bill the “Don’t Say Gay” law. In response, “Florida lawmakers terminated the self-governing privileges that Disney World had held since 1967,” the Daily Mail noted.
“I can tell you is under no circumstances should the state of Florida be subsidizing woke activism by allowing them to have their own government, so we took it away,” DeSantis said during a stop in Michigan.
“They tried to pull a fast one on the way out the door. They’ve been caught on that, so all I can say is that story’s not over yet, buckle up,” he noted further, adding: “There’s going to be more coming down the pike.”
After DeSantis appointed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board to replace the Reedy Creek Improvement District controlled by Disney, a deal was cut between Disney officials and the old board to allow the company to sidestep the new board’s control. The deal relied on an obscure legal clause associated with King Charles III.
DeSantis, in response, has asked state officials to investigate the matter as the new board attempts to undo what the old board agreed to, though it’s expected that any actions will likely wind up in a court battle.
“One powerful corporation should not be outside the contours of the law. They need to be held accountable and we are going to make sure that that happens,” DeSantis vowed on Thursday, the Daily Mail noted.