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Disney Uses Legal Loophole Linked to King Charles III to Dodge DeSantis' Self-Governance Crackdown

© AFP 2023 / BRYAN R. SMITHThe Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on September 30, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.
The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on September 30, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.04.2023
Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis - a long-time critic of Disney as a "purveyor of woke ideology" - signed a bill in February 2023 to end the self-governing status of the entertainment giant, saying that the "corporate kingdom finally comes to an end. There's a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day".
The Walt Disney Company has seized upon a legal loophole invoking England's King Charles III to thwart an attempt by Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis to strip the entertainment giant of its self-governing status in the state, US media reported.
In what has been described as a checkmate move, Disney will purportedly fall back on a Royal Lives Clause to retain control of its Walt Disney World resort area. All of the latter is located within the special taxing district of Reedy Creek.
A contract clause, inserted into Reedy Creek's tax district agreement, provides that a specific right must be exercised within the lifetime - plus 21 years - of the last living descendant of a British Monarch who happens to be alive during the time that the contract is made, in this case - King Charles III. Such clauses are believed to date as far back as to the 17th century.
Reedy Creek's tax district was set up by Florida Legislature in 1967 to "support and administer certain aspects of the economic development and tourism", according to its website. Disney is the largest single landowner of the district. However, in February this year, Florida's Republican-led legislature voted to scrap the self-governing arrangement that enabled Disney World to have its own police and fire departments, power distribution, and a spate of other public functions. Under the auspices of a bill signed by Ron DeSantis, a new board was appointed, consisting of five members that would oversee the government services provided on Disney district’s properties in the state.

"Today the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end... There's a new sheriff in town, and accountability will be the order of the day," DeSantis has stated at a bill-signing ceremony.

But purportedly days before the Florida House passed the legislation, the still Disney-appointed board rushed to transfer a batch of duties of the Reedy Creek Improvement District under the media giant's control. What this means is that Disney would not need to seek board approval in cases such as construction of various projects or buildings, or selling and/or assigning development rights.
As the above-cited clause appears to stymie efforts by the DeSantis-appointed board of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District to govern the municipal services provided on Disney's properties in Florida, the members vowed to fight the contract in court.

"The agreement unlawfully delegates the district's legislative authority to a private corporation, subverts the provisions of the new act, and binds the hands of the new board," lawyers representing the board were cited as saying in a statement.

Walt Disney Corporation disputed this, underscoring that "All agreements signed between Disney and the District were appropriate, and were discussed and approved in the open, noticed public forums in compliance with Florida’s Government in the Sunshine law".
DeSantis has yet to comment publicly on the sneaky move by Walt Disney Co, which is the latest twist in their longtime standoff.
The Republican Governor and Disney have been feuding since he signed the 'Parents Rights in Education' bill in March 2022. The legislation, branded 'Don’t Say Gay' by its opponents, effectively bans all discussion of sexual identity in classes up to the third grade (approximately age 8). Disney had publicly opposed the 2022 bill and moved to halt political donations to the GOP in Florida.
DeSantis, along with other Republicans, slammed Disney as a purveyor of "woke" ideology, seeking to inject inappropriate subjects into children’s entertainment. When then-Disney chief executive Bob Chapek pledged that the company would work to repeal Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act, DeSantis, slammed "Woke Disney".
"If Disney wants to pick a fight, they chose the wrong guy," he was cited as writing.
In this Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 photo, a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse is seen in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Florida tourism officials say cases of the new coronavirus are having little visible impact on the theme park industry so far.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.02.2023
'New Sheriff in Town': Florida Governor DeSantis Takes Down Disney's 'Corporate Kingdom'
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