Ron DeSantis threatens to build a prison next to Disney World

Ron DeSantis speaking in front of a US flag

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has hit a new low in his ongoing feud with Disney by threatening to erect a state prison next to its theme park.

DeSantis, who has been warring on Disney ever since it opposed his anti-LGBTQ+ Don’t Say Gay law in 2022, made the threat as he announced his latest bid to one-up the company.

At a last-minute press conference on Monday (17 April), DeSantis revealed new plans to regain power of the special district that contains Disney World, which Disney has for decades had effective control of.

This would give him the power to build on 40 acres of state land next to the theme park.

“People have said maybe create a state park, maybe try to do more amusement parks,” DeSantis told reporters.

“Somebody even said, maybe you need another state prison, who knows? I just think that the possibilities are endless.

You may like to watch

Disney’s special tax district

Disney struck a deal with Florida in 1967 to allow it near-total control over a large section of land in central Florida.

The Reedy Creek Improvement District functions like a local government, and has allowed the company control of utilities, emergency services, roads and building on the lands of its bustling theme park. 

Disney characters in front of the magic kingdom.
Disney World. (Getty/China News Service)

In April last year, Florida lawmakers approved a bill that abolished special districts after Disney opposed the Don’t Say Gay law.

Before it could come into effect, another bill was passed which backtracked, after locals shared concerns that the change would burden taxpayers. Instead, the new bill gave the governor power to appoint the district’s board.

“Today, the corporate kingdom finally comes to an end,” DeSantis said at a bill signing ceremony in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, near Walt Disney World.

In February this year DeSantis fired the board and replaced them with Republican allies. 

However, the outgoing board frustrated these efforts by handing power directly to Disney 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 denounced this declaration on Monday as a “legally unsound sham”, and said lawmakers will take steps to “formally nullify” it.

Please login or register to comment on this story.