Disney: 1, Ron DeSantis: 0

Remember that story a few weeks ago about Florida governor Ron DeSantis stripping Disney of its de facto control over the 27,000 acres of land encompassing Walt Disney World, as political retribution for Disney’s public opposition to Florida’s anti-gay education legislation? The New York Times reports:

Over the past two months, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has repeatedly declared victory in his yearlong effort to restrict the autonomy of Disney World, the state’s largest employer. “There’s a new sheriff in town,” he said numerous times, including at a news conference last month on Disney property, hours before appointing a new, handpicked oversight board.

Nobody seemed to have paid attention, however, to an important detail: Disney had been simultaneously maneuvering to restrict the governor’s effort. In early February — at a public meeting held by the previous, Disney-controlled oversight board — the company pushed through a development agreement that would limit the new board’s power for decades to come.

And now, the governor’s appointees, having belatedly discovered the action, are none too pleased. “It completely circumvents the authority of the board to govern,” Brian Aungst Jr., a member of the new council, said on Wednesday at the group’s second meeting. “We’re going to have to deal with it and correct it.”

The agreement is effective for perpetuity. It uses contractual language known as a “royal lives” clause: “Shall continue in effect until twenty one (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.” (The royal language quickly spawned numerous internet memes, striking people as odd in a matter involving a theme park that is home to Cinderella’s castle.)

The people who run Disney are pretty smart, and Ron DeSantis seems pretty dumb, so I’m not surprised at how this turned out. I don’t know what to make of this “royal lives” clause other than that it’s funny as hell.

Thursday, 30 March 2023