DeSantis Jokes About Building a ‘Prison’ Next to Disney World

Originally published April 18, 2023 9:00 am PDT

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) vowed to crack down on Disney after the company tried to undermine the board he appointed to oversee the company’s land.

  • Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has promised to crack down on Disney after the entertainment giant used a property law to keep control of its self-governing status.
  • The issue is centered on the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which has governed the land around Disney World for more than 50 years, overseen by a board of Disney senior executives.
  • However, Gov. DeSantis signed a law in February that dissolved the district and established a new board, the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, to replace it.
  • Disney undercut the board and used a “royal clause” that would keep the company in charge until “21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, king of England living as of the date of this declaration.”
  • DeSantis claimed that the corporation has no right to do so, and Disney would not hold power over the board.
  • “Disney’s sloppy and futile attempt to subvert the will of the Legislature and Floridians was uncovered by our state oversight board and their 11th-hour agreements will be nullified by the Legislature,” the governor wrote on Twitter. “Disney’s corporate kingdom is over.”
  • The governor claimed the “possibilities are endless” with what could replace current Disney grounds.
  • “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.”

“We will not have one corporation serving as its own government,” DeSantis said.

  • Earlier this month, DeSantis requested an investigation into The Walt Disney Co. regarding its control of the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties.
  • The move came after DeSantis’ new board accused Reedy Creek board members of signing a previous agreement with Disney, giving the company complete decision-making power over the theme park grounds while undermining the powers of the governor’s newly created board.
  • DeSantis says the agreement includes a clause dating back to 1692 that has “legal infirmities.”
  • As a result, the Florida governor called on the state’s inspector general to investigate whether Disney’s actions to maintain control of the area are legal and if any of its executives were involved in the alleged plot.
  • Disney CEO Bob Iger claimed DeSantis’ actions were “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”
  • Iger said that Disney has over 75,000 employees in the state and brings roughly 50 million visitors to Florida each year.
  • The CEO also mentioned that Disney intends to invest over $17 billion in Walt Disney World in the next ten years, creating approximately 13,000 jobs and generating more taxes for Florida.
  • “Our point on this is that any action that supports those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida. And I’ll just leave it at that,” Igor said.