DeSantis Declares Disney Development Deal with Reedy Creek Improvement District Null and Void at Press Conference

Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference at the former Reedy Creek administrative office where he effectively dissed Disney for its efforts at what he called self-governing. During his remarks on Monday morning, he created a case that Disney is not superior to the laws enacted by the state of Florida. This was followed by a list of grievances that Florida has against the company and actions that will be taken against the “woke company in California.” All of this was in reaction to the revelation that Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District had made an agreement for the future of the District before legislation was signed replacing it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

The Governor

Where Things Stand

After giving his perspective of how the state of Florida and Disney got to where they are today, the Governor shared that Disney had circumvented the system for its own benefit. Continuing to speak about this agreement, DeSantis said that the agreement was “designed to usurp the authority of the CFTOD board.”

“They (Disney) are not superior to the laws that are enacted by the state of Florida,” he said during the news conference. “They thought they could create a development agreement that would render everything we did null and void. That’s not going to work, that’s not going to fly.”

Where Things Are Going

Beyond believing that there are holes in the agreement that makes it not valid, DeSantis also said that both the board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and the Florida State Legislature would both be taking actions to assert Florida’s will on the district. The Florida Legislature will be bringing legislation forward next week that will revoke the deals made for the district by Disney.

“I’ve worked with both leaders of the House and Senate, and there is a bill that will be put out in the Florida legislature that will make sure that the agreements by Disney are revoked,” DeSantis said while at the Reedy Creek Administration Building.  “And the people’s will is established and is upheld.

“At the end of the day, we made the decision as a state and as people of our elections, that we will not have one corporation serving as its own government. That is not good government, and that is not something we will entertain in Florida.”

The board will also look at the agreement and revoke it and also look at other possibilities for the land in the District. “Maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks,’’ DeSantis said. “Someone even said like, maybe you need another state prison. Who knows? I mean, I just think that the possibilities are endless.”

The Governor also said that the District would look at the utilities and perhaps selling them off to help save money or even make more money. This would then be put toward paying down bond debt. Along with looking at utilities, the Governor said that the District would look at the system that First Responders work within. This includes a system for First Responders to petition and receive raises. He also wants to increase oversight over Disney, including a closer look at attractions. He specifically mentioned oversight of the Monorail during his remarks.

The Governor also addressed other issues in the district. This included Disney forcing cast members to wear masks, which he said that no corporation should be able to do. He also said that the Board would look into property assessment to make sure that it is taxed appropriately and also look into workforce housing. Human trafficking also was brought up as an issue that will be explored as well. He wrapped up his remarks by reiterating that he didn’t want a company governing themselves.

The State

The press conference then was turned over to the Commissioner of Agriculture followed by state legislators. Commissioner Wilton Simpson said that moving forward his department would be inspecting attractions where injuries occurred and that companies would no longer be able to self-inspect. The legislators stepped to the podium to reiterate their commitment to beating the “woke companies,” specifically Disney and moving legislation forward to defeat their efforts.

The Backstory

The controversy between DeSantis and Disney began last year after then-Disney CEO Bob Chapek came out against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This led to Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature passing a bill to dismantle the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Earlier this year, a new bill replaced Reedy Creek with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. Shortly before this bill was passed, Disney and the Reedy Creek Improvement District reached an agreement that gave Disney a wide-range of powers moving forward.

While the agreement was made in public and shows on public record for Reedy Creek, the Governor and other Florida leaders have repeatedly accused Disney of creating the deal in secret. Disney has responded saying, “All agreements signed between Disney and the district were appropriate and were discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law,”

What’s Next

On Wednesday the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board will meet to discuss its next steps. This is expected to include a number of the options that Governor DeSantis listed (and mentioned above). Next week the Florida Legislature will introduce legislation that will counter the Disney efforts with this agreement and also create more oversight over Disney and the District.

In a recent interview, Disney CEO has indicated he is willing to speak with Governor DeSantis about the issue. DeSantis has said he would meet with Iger if Disney accepted “that they are not going to live under a different set of rules than everyone else.”

“If we can get there, fine,” DeSantis added. “But we’re not there yet.”

Daps Magic will continue to follow this story closely and provide updates as they become available. What do you think of the news that came out of this press conference? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.