Last April, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis dissolved the Reedy Creek Improvement District, putting Walt Disney World under state control. Shortly after, DeSantis and the Republican-led state legislature delivered another whammy to Disney. They passed a law putting the monorail under state inspection control as well.
Prior to the new law, Disney was able to bring in its own inspectors to make sure that the Disney World monorail system was operating at its best. That’s because theme parks with more than 1,000 employees were allowed to bring in their own safety inspectors. The new law only affected Disney, leaving out competitors like the Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando.
It’s been months since the laws were passed, and the Florida Department of Transportation has finally begun inspecting the monorails. There is just one small issue. FDOT does not have any security and safety standards that will apply specifically to the monorail
The existing administrative rule authorizes FDOT to use a 97-page manual establishing safety and security standards for the nine government-funded rail systems under FDOT oversight such as the Orlando International Airport tram. The manual was last updated in 2018.
FDOT has not indicated whether it expects to regulate the Disney monorail using similar standards.
According to the manual, fixed-guideway operators must submit safety plans to FDOT annually and are subject to scheduled and unscheduled onsite safety inspections.
Could the Monorail Actually Shut Down?
One part of the new law that could seriously affect Disney park goers is that the state inspectors could actually shut down the monorails while they are inspecting them. And they could keep them shut down for as long as they deemed necessary.
Florida Republican Nick DiCeglie introduced the amendment that put the monorail under state control. He spoke to WESH2 about the possibility of shutting the monorail down.
“That is going to be a last resort action,” DiCeglie said. “There would have to be some significant safety concerns in order for that monorail to be shut down.”
The monorail takes approximately 150,000 riders a day to the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, the Ticket & Transportation, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. So, having the monorail shut down could seriously impact how some guests get around the resort.
Disney is currently suing DeSantis for the actions that he has taken against the company and its Florida theme park. The company is accusing DeSantis of retaliation because he did not start attacking the Mouse House until AFTER ex-CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against a bill DeSantis championed. They are suing Governor DeSantis for violating their First Amendment right to free speech.
DeSantis has repeatedly admitted that he attacked the company after that happened. But his lawyers have said that it “doesn’t matter” if the controversial governor punished Disney. DeSantis has also told Disney that they should drop the lawsuit because he has “moved on.”
Do you think Disney should get to keep control of the monorail? Let us know in the comments!