New Disney Board To Take Legal Action Against Disney After Old Board Made Quiet Move To Transfer Power To Corporation
Sign for the media brand Disney Store on 19th December 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Walt Disney or simply Disney, is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate.
Photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ new handpicked five-person board that oversees the governance of Walt Disney World discovered this week in one of its first meetings that the old board quietly signed an agreement that transferred its power to Disney.

The old board signed the agreement to transfer its power to the company on February 8 and the agreement was recorded with the Orange County Comptroller on February 9 — the same day that the Florida House passed legislation that renamed the Reedy Creek Improvement District to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and removed Disney’s self-appointed board and replaced it with a board appointed by the governor.

News 6 WKMG reported that the discovery was made by attorneys that were hired by the new board. The special counsel also discovered that the old board used a common law property rule known as the “rule against perpetuities” to extend how long Disney has control of the powers.

The rule “states that no interest in land is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than twenty-one years after some life in being at the creation of the interest,” according to Cornell Law School.

Disney then invoked a “Royal lives clause” which tried to extend the length of the contract for as long as possible by tying it to the lineage of the Royal family.

The document signed by the old board and Disney said, “[T]his Declaration 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.”

“I cannot tell you the level of my disappointment in Disney. I thought so much better of them,” said board member Ron Peri. “This essentially makes Disney the government. This board loses, for practical purposes, the majority of its ability to do anything beyond maintain the roads and maintain basic infrastructure.”

“I mean, I don’t know what else to say,” Peri added. “I think these documents are void ab initio, I think they were an extremely aggressive overreach, and I’m very disappointed that they’re here.”


The new board has retained legal counsel as they prepare to fight Disney in court over the matter.

“On the day that the legislation was passed by the Florida House, the former board and Disney entered into a development agreement and deed restrictions that essentially stripped most of the governing authority of the district and also made certain promises and concessions to Disney for many, many years out into the future,” said board member Brian Aungst, Jr. “They have tried to take that away from this board, the ability to provide that oversight, and we’re not gonna let that stand.”

Disney claimed in a statement that their actions were in full compliance with Florida law.

“The Executive Office of the Governor is aware of Disney’s last-ditch efforts to execute contracts just before ratifying the new law that transfers rights and authorities from the former Reedy Creek Improvement District to Disney,” DeSantis’ office said in a statement. “An initial review suggests these agreements may have significant legal infirmities that would render the contracts void as a matter of law. We are pleased the new Governor-appointed board retained multiple financial and legal firms to conduct audits and investigate Disney’s past behavior.”

Christina Pushaw, rapid response director on DeSantis’ political team, also fired back at Disney, tweeting: “Today, @Disney got a rude awakening in the Central Florida Tourism Oversight meeting… Governor DeSantis’ new board would not, and will not, allow Disney to give THEMSELVES unprecedented power over land (some of which isn’t even theirs!) for 30+ years.”

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