Before The State Takeover, Disney Secretly Removed Authority From DeSantis’ New Board


The Disney World oversight board, which was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, accused its predecessor of abusing an 11th-hour deal to severely limit the new board’s authority and strengthen Disney’s control over the Florida-based amusement park.

The new board is barred from utilizing its brand name or any of its trademarks, citing “fanciful figures such as Mickey Mouse.” It also grants the corporation the right to advance review and comment when the board modifies the outside of a building, among other restrictions.

DeSantis claimed through a spokeswoman that the governor-appointed board has hired law firms to contest the pact and that certain “legal infirmities” might make it worthless.

How DeSantis Moved Against Disney

After Disney criticized education legislation he had supported that prohibited teachers from trying to discuss sexuality and gender orientation in early grades, DeSantis, an emerging voice in the Republican Party and widely seen as a likely contender for the party’s 2024 nomination for president, ordained a new oversight board. The measure was slammed by critics as a bigoted and discriminatory “do not speak homosexual” bill. Last year, DeSantis signed it into law.

In apparent retaliation for the criticism, DeSantis switched out the previous Disney-friendly oversight committee recognized as the Reedy Creek Improvement District with a new board known as the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which is entirely made up of his office holders, including religious and conservative activists.

The board is in charge of authorizing infrastructure projects as well as overseeing more routine parts of the park, such as garbage collection and sewer system maintenance. Disney would have been reliant on DeSantis’ board for approval on key initiatives, letting it wield power over the firm.

Yet, in a bureaucratic coup, Disney and the previous board inked an agreement on Feb. 8 — the day before the Florida Legislature passed a law clearing the way for the DeSantis appointments — that gave Disney much of the board’s power.