In a bold move on Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his plans to introduce legislation that will effectively crush Disney’s plans to build a fifth theme park at The Walt Disney World Resort.
It might just be the most powerful move made by Gov. Ron DeSantis in the ongoing battle between the Florida legislature and The Walt Disney Company–a move so bold it could stop any plans Disney World has for adding a fifth theme park to the Resort located in Central Florida near Orlando.
During a press conference on Monday, Gov. DeSantis said that new legislation aimed at revoking a development agreement passed by the Reedy Creek board before the state of Florida took over the district would be introduced in the legislature and voted upon in a matter of days.
In early February, as members of the Florida legislature met in Tallahassee for a special session to decide whether the state would take over Disney’s special tax district, another meeting was taking place as well–a public meeting held by the previous Disney-controlled board members–and during that meeting, a new development agreement was enacted, effectively limiting the new board members’ power for the foreseeable future. In short, the new board members were rendered powerless before they were even appointed to their new roles–roles in which they’d be able to shape the future and day-to-day goings on within a 40-square-mile tract of land situated in Orange and Osceola Counties–the same tract of land on which every part of the Walt Disney World Resort rests.
The newly-passed statutes by the original Disney-appointed board members on February 8 include new restrictive covenants, as well as a newly created development agreement that gives The Walt Disney Company massive control over future construction within the jurisdiction of the district, meaning that anything said or introduced by the new board will be little more than background noise, especially since the new agreements have expiration dates so far off in the future, it’s nearly comical. (Thank you, King Charles!)
The development agreement created and approved by the former Disney Reedy Creek board (see below) listed approved developments on Disney’s property beginning presently and going through the year 2032. According to the table of approved projects, the use of Disney-owned land for the construction of two “minor parks” and one “major park” has been given a green light.
But during Monday’s press conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said a new piece of legislation would make its way to the Florida legislature and be voted upon next week. The bill will revoke the “development agreement” that the former Reedy Creek board voted to approve, meaning the two minor parks and one major park at Disney World will not only be given the red light but the approval for the development of those parks will be a thing of the past, and potentially even outside of the law.
If Gov. DeSantis has his way in the matter, the decision to develop a fifth theme park at Disney World could ultimately be made or crushed by the DeSantis-appointed members of the new Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board.