April 17, 2023 -ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers ratcheted up pressure on Walt Disney World on Monday by announcing legislation that will use the regulatory powers of Florida government to exert unprecedented oversight on the park resort’s rides and monorail.
Lawmakers will introduce a bill in coming weeks that would end an exemption for Disney parks when it comes to ride inspections by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, DeSantis said at a news conference near Disney World.
The agriculture agency is responsible for inspecting amusement rides in Florida, but an exception was carved out for the state’s largest theme park operators, such as Disney and Universal Destinations & Experiences, which do their own safety inspections. Under the proposal, the exemption would end for rides in special governmental districts, which basically targets just Disney World.
Disney said in a statement on Monday that its inspectors have been leaders in the industry. Other experts note that Disney and other large theme park operators have an expertise examining sophisticated rides that state or local agencies may not have.
“Inspections for the kind of rides at Disney go well beyond county fairs,” said Richard Foglesong, a Rollins College professor emeritus who wrote a definitive account of Disney World’s governance in his book, “Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando.”