Walt Disney World is one of the world's most iconic resorts, and its monorail system is one of its most recognizable features. The monorail system has been in operation since the park's opening in 1971 and has transported millions of visitors around the park's various attractions. However, recent developments suggest that the monorail system may be facing increased scrutiny from state lawmakers in Florida as part of a larger push by Governor Ron DeSantis to single out Walt Disney World and retaliate against the resort for speaking out against parts of his political agenda.
The governor has already fought to seize control of Walt Disney World's Reedy Creek Improvement District (the entity that formerly allowed Walt Disney World to govern itself for the past 50 years) and has not only been sued by Walt Disney World over this action but has also counter-sued the resort in return.
And now it seems like more punitive measures are being taken by DeSantis to try and retaliate against Disney further, by using legislation and the Florida Department of Transportation to continue to limit what Disney can and can't do inside its own theme parks. Though it remains to be seen exactly how this could play out long-term, here's what we know so far about the government's latest actions against Walt Disney World, and how it could lead to the monorail shutting down for long periods of time.
Theme park inspections have been up to theme park operators for over 50 years
If you didn't think a lot about theme park inspections during your last visit to Orlando, you're not alone. Though this type of important safety work might seem like it would already be under the government's purview, Disney and other large theme parks like Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando are able to conduct their own safety inspections because of a carve-out from oversight by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
This has been in place for as long as theme parks have existed in the state, and though there is an extensive reporting process in place for when injuries and/or accidents occur, theme parks are largely able to govern themselves when it comes to inspections for rides, transportation, etc., which works out well for the local government as well, as there are over a dozen major theme parks in the state, with literally thousands of attractions between them that would all need inspecting.
A bill that applies only to Walt Disney World has passed the Florida legislature
Though Walt Disney World, like every other major theme park in the state, has operated under this self-governance system of inspections for decades, that is about to change. A new transportation bill passed by the local Florida government singles out Walt Disney World's monorail specifically, by requiring state oversight of "any governmentally or privately owned fixed-guideway transportation systems operating in this state which are located within an independent special district created by a local act which have boundaries within two contiguous counties."
That definition would only apply to Walt Disney World specifically, because of the Reedy Creek Improvement District special designation. No other theme parks will be affected by this law, which means Universal Orlando Resort, LEGOLAND Florida, SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa and more could all continue to operate as normal, and would not be impacted by this legislation at all.