Disney Calls Out DeSantis’ Hypocrisy On Universal’s Special District In Latest Court Filing

Disney calls out DeSantis' hypocrisy on Universal's special district
Credit: Disney, Universal, Gage Skidmore, Flickr

The Walt Disney Company can clearly afford the best legal counsel in the world, but somewhere, there is a lawyer whose job it is to write down everything that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says and does. Whomever that person is, they won’t ever get to argue this case in court or the fanfare of Disney’s “Legal Legend” Daniel Petrocelli, but this week, that person got a chance to shine.

Mickey Mouse and Ron DeSantis

Credit: Disney/ Gage Skidmore Flickr

Related: DeSantis/Florida Said Disney’s Special District was Corrupt, So Why Is Its Biggest Rival Getting One? 

In a court filing this week, Disney called out Governor DeSantis’ hypocrisy over its rival, Universal Studios Florida, getting its own special tax district. By stripping Disney of the Reedy Creek Improvement District and replacing it with the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, Governor DeSantis claimed that it would “level the playing field,” while Disney claims that it is government retaliation for the company speaking out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act known by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Last month, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to create the Shingle Creek Transit and Utility Community Development District. That mouthful of a name District is 719 acres, including Universal Orlando Resort, Universal’s new Epic Universe theme park, and 13 acres for a new Sun Rail train station. The entire Board of the Shingle Creek Transit and Utility Community Development District is filled with Universal Orlando employees. This is similar to the arrangement that Disney World formerly had with the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which was filled with Disney employees.

DeSantis welcomes Disney's surrender

Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr

While Disney’s main rival in Central Florida, Universal Studios, got its own special tax district, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis remained silent. While Disney halted its political donations after speaking out against the Parental Rights in Education Act, Universal continued its political donations.

Lawyers for Disney wrote in the filing:

Further, most businesses and other property owners in Florida are regulated by elected, politically-accountable municipal bodies. Few Florida businesses are subject, as Disney now is, to governance by a special district with a Governor-controlled board that closely regulates the use of private property with no accountability to local property owners and taxpayers.

Disney District Employees Quitting En Mass After DeSantis' Board Takeover

Credit: Disney/ Gage Skidmore, Flickr

DeSantis’ Words

It’s not only DeSantis’ silence that Disney is using against him; they are also using his words as well. Earlier this year, in what he said was a joke, Governor DeSantis claimed he would use land adjacent to the Walt Disney World Resort to build a rival theme park or even a new state prison. As a part of their filing, Disney used those words against him.

The filing said: 

As examples, the Governor declared that his Board could approve the use of property adjacent to Disney’s to construct a state prison or develop a rival theme park. The injuries caused by exercising unlawful appointment power plainly would be redressed by a court order invalidating the reorganization laws and directing the Governor to rescind his legally impermissible appointments.

Walt Dreamer Statue

Walt Disney Dreamer Statue. Credit: Disney

Related: ‘Unqualified and Incompetent’ Disney District Employees Quitting En Masse After DeSantis Board Takeover

Disney has also shown its ultimate goal is to regain control of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District. Since the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has taken over, more than 30 employees have quit the District, with some calling it “dysfunctional.” The new Board members are entirely DeSantis appointees with limited experience running such a wide-reaching District.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.


About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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