Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.
Roberto Machado Noah | Lightrocket | Getty Images
Forget Disney princesses. Mickey Mouse may have proved who is the true king of Florida.
disney apparently thwarted an attempt by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to strip the company of its autonomy within the state, using a legal provision to confirm the name of King Charles III.
For about a year, state legislators backed by DeSantis have sought to gain more control over the company’s Florida-based theme parks by passing legislation that would dissolve Disney’s special tax districts. DeSantis also wanted to rename the area the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and set up a new commission to oversee it.
Until recently, there was little public debate about the dissolution of the venerable district, which Disney occupied for 55 years, so DeSantis’ critics questioned the timing and speed with which the governor acted against the company. questioned.
DeSantis, widely known as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee, was embroiled in a bitter public feud with the entertainment giant early last year over the company’s denunciation of Florida’s HB 1557 law. HB 1557, called by critics a “non-gay” bill, restricts early education teachings about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Republican Rep. Randy Fine said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last April that the bill wasn’t retaliatory, but said, “When Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we felt special. We looked at the district,” he said.
Disney has been silent on the matter for months, but the House of Mouse appears to have planned to maintain control over land within the outer boundaries of Orange and Osceola counties.
On February 8, the day before Florida House voted to put DeSantis in charge, the former Disney Alliance board signed a long-term development agreement that significantly limits the control they can exercise over the company and its districts. bottom.
As part of the 30-year development agreement, Disney will no longer require board approval to build high-density projects or buildings of any height and will be able to sell or transfer development rights. It also prohibits the board of directors from using the Disney name or its characters.
Brodwin, Brandenburg, March 30, 2023: King Charles III. Brodwin stands next to a cake specially made during his visit to his ecovillage during a royal visit to Germany.
Pool | Pool | via Reuters
The agreement includes a royal clause that dates back to 1692 in Britain and extends that time limit by decades.
This “declaration shall remain in force until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III of England living on the date of this declaration,” the document said. Most frequently used in the UK for trusts and provides a buffer against permanence.
“So as long as one of your grandchildren turns 80, this provision will be in place for 100 years,” said Robert Lord, senior adviser on tax policy for the progressive group Patriotic Millionaires. explained.
DeSantis replaced the entire Disney-affiliated board of directors with five Republicans on February 27. Only then was Disney’s new binding agreement discovered. The clause was so vague that some of the journalists present at the Feb. 8 meeting clearly did not understand it.
“This effectively makes Disney the government,” said Ron Pelli, one of the new board members appointed to CFTOD from DeSantis, at a meeting on Feb. 27. “This commission will lose most of its ability to do more than maintain roads and maintain basic infrastructure for practical purposes.”
A representative for DeSantis did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. The Florida Attorney General has requested transcripts of the Feb. 8 meeting. according to the tweet From a reporter for the Washington Post.
Florida legislators have pushed back against the new accord and vowed to find legal ways to repeal or void the document.
In a statement, The Walt Disney Resort said, “All agreements signed between Disney and the District are in good standing and have been discussed in an open and highly visible public forum in compliance with the Florida government’s Sunshine Act. It has been approved and approved,” he said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis answers questions from the media during the Florida Cabinet after addressing the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida, March 7, 2023.
Chaney Orr | AFP | Getty Images
The district in question is the Reedy Creek Improvement District, established in 1967. It was created by the Florida legislature to allow Disney to develop the infrastructure of Walt Disney His World at no cost to Florida taxpayers.
The deal allowed Disney to build theme parks, hotels, and other tourism experiences within the Reedy Creek area with little or no oversight.The company also became the largest employer of Florida residents. , helped the Orlando area become one of the largest tourist hubs in the United States.
And Disney’s allies took part in a Feb. 8 meeting prepared to defend their special status in the state.
Board president Larry Haymes asked if there was anything else to discuss before closing the meeting, according to the minutes.
John Classe, Reedy Creek’s top administrator since 2016, quoted famous basketball coach John Wooden.