Gov. DeSantis announces new legislation letting state oversee Disney World’s monorails, rides

Orlando, Florida, USA - February 9, 2022:  A Walt Disney World e
'I just think that the possibilities are endless.'

Florida lawmakers are moving soon to file new legislation to try and wrestle power back from Disney over land agreement deals and to make monorails and Disney World theme park rides subject to state safety inspections, Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

DeSantis held a press conference outside Disney World where he announced his latest moves in the ongoing saga between the Governor and the theme park company.

DeSantis accused Disney of orchestrating a special deal and circumventing the state when the company and its old governing board — with members selected by Disney — approved long-term land agreement deals in the weeks before the state seized control of the board. Disney leaders previously said the old board did nothing wrong and that the deals were approved out in the open during a public meeting.

DeSantis’ ire at Disney began last year when the company spoke out against the Parental Rights in Education measure, which critics dub the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

At Monday’s press conference, DeSantis hinted that the state-controlled Disney World governing board will soon take on other issues such as giving pay raises to Disney World firefighters, expanding affordable housing and looking at opening up the special district’s land to other uses. In an apparent jesting tone, DeSantis mentioned building a prison as one option.

“I just think that the possibilities are endless,” DeSantis said.

What’s coming next from the Legislature is a new bill giving the state oversight authority Disney World’s monorails, which DeSantis criticized for being exempt from state safety standards or investigations. 

Currently, Disney World, Universal and the other major theme parks are also not investigated by the state when somebody gets hurt on a ride, like at the smaller attractions. That could be a change at Disney, DeSantis said Monday, as lawmakers are drafting legislation which could require state inspections for a theme park located within a special district.

Every few months, a handful of people get hurt or sick on a Disney World ride requiring at least 24 hours of hospitalization. The theme park self-reports those incidents to the Agriculture Department, which, in turn, publicly releases a short report every quarter on the incidents.

Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson, a fellow Republican and former state Senate president, joined DeSantis’ side at the press conference in support of the proposed legislative changes over theme park ride injuries, saying it “makes sense.”

“Everyone should have to play by the same rules,” Simpson said.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .

One comment

  • Earl Pitts American

    April 18, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Good morning America,
    I, Earl Pitts American, am proud Ron took my sage advice and is beginning to turn the screws of State regulation on bad actor Disney.
    Wont be long before Bob Iger puts on some lipstick, a wig, fake boobies and heels drops to his knees and tries to provide Ron some “special” favors.
    But Ron dont swing that way so Iger better come up with a plan B.
    Thank you America,
    Earl “Political Advisor” Pitts American

Comments are closed.


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