Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers have announced legislation that aims to increase regulatory oversight on Walt Disney World's rides and monorail system. The proposed bill would end an exemption that allows Disney and Universal Destinations & Experiences to conduct their own safety inspections, and instead require inspections by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The exemption would end for rides in special governmental districts, which mostly targets Disney World. However, Disney has defended its inspectors' industry-leading expertise and knowledge of sophisticated rides.
The proposed legislation is the latest in a back-and-forth between Disney and DeSantis. Last year, Disney publicly opposed the state's "Don't Say Gay" legislation, which led to lawmakers passing legislation allowing the governor to appoint board members of Disney World's company-controlled government. Last month, DeSantis-appointees claimed that their Disney-controlled predecessors had stripped the new board of most powers, giving Disney control over design and construction at the theme park resort. DeSantis claimed that the agreement was illegal and suggested that the board should sell the district's utility to pay down the district's $1 billion debts. He also proposed that Disney World should never again have a mask mandate.
By taking on Disney, DeSantis has reinforced his reputation as a culture warrior willing to use the power of state government to achieve political goals. However, the proposed legislation may imply that the previous agreement between Disney and the company-controlled government is valid. Additionally, DeSantis' approach of regulating a large corporation is atypical for a Republican presidential candidate. Some experts have noted that DeSantis' statements sound more like those of a socialist than a Republican.