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Florida district board calls out Disney over Disney World agreement

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The new members of a Florida board overseeing Disney World said on Wednesday, March 29, that Disney pulled a fast one on them, rendering them essentially powerless. The members were appointed to the board by Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., on Feb. 27, 2023.

In 2022, Gov. DeSantis and Disney clashed over the corporation’s opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law. The law limits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.

In retaliation, the Florida Legislature voted to take over the Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District, which governs over the Disney World area. The district has since been renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the district said the original Disney-allied board members had quietly pushed through a 30-year development agreement ahead of their departure from the board. The agreement transferred most of the district’s power to Disney.

This includes approval to build new theme parks along with smaller parks. Under the agreement, the decision to build new parks is solely Disney’s.

The agreement also gives Disney the right to sell or assign project development rights to other district landowners in Florida without the board having any say. The new district is not able to make any changes to Disney buildings, including regulating how tall they are, without Disney’s approval.

The district is also not able to use the well-known Disney name, its characters or other intellectual property without the company’s permission. This leaves the district unable to even identify itself by the massive brand it is tasked with regulating.

“This essentially makes Disney the government,” current board member Ron Peri said. “This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure.”

In response to the board’s complaints, Disney released a statement saying that “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.”

The document states the agreement is in effect until perpetuity. If the agreement is deemed to violate rules against perpetuity, it is valid until “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, king of England.”  Charles is the king of all of the United Kingdom, not just England.

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We’ve been following the ongoing drama between Walt Disney World and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Now — the members DeSantis picked to serve on a board overseeing Disney World says Disney pulled a fast one on them — rendering them essentially powerless.
Before we get into that — a brief refresher on how we got here.
Last year — DeSantis and Disney clashed over the corporation’s opposition to the so-called “don’t say gay” law — which limits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.
In retaliation — the Florida Legislature voted to take over the Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District — which governs over the Disney World area.
DeSantis appointed new members to the district board — now known as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District — last month.
This week — lawyers for the district said the original Disney-allied board members had quietly pushed through a 30-year development agreement ahead of their departure from the board.
The agreement transferred most of the District’s power to Disney.
This includes approval to build new theme parks along with smaller parks.
Under the agreement – the decision to build new parks is solely Disney’s.
The agreement also gives Disney the right to sell or assign project development rights to other district landowners without the board having any say.
The new district is not able to make any changes to Disney buildings – including regulating how tall they are – without Disney’s approval.
The district is also not able to use the well known Disney name – its characters – or other intellectual property without the company’s permission.
This means the district is currently unable to even identify itself by the massive brand it is tasked with regulating.
Expressing dismay about the agreement — current board member Ron Peri said quote “This essentially makes Disney the government. This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure.”
In response to the district’s complaints — Disney said quote “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.”
A note about the covenant declaring that the agreement is valid in perpetuity.
The document states that if the agreement is deemed to violate rules against perpetuity — the agreement is valid until quote “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, king of England.”
The clear mistake from Disney here — that Charles is the King of all of the U-K — not just England.