Disney World's Battle With Florida Is Getting Wild As Prince Harry And Meghan Markle’s Daughter Is Now Involved. No, Really.

Disney World and the state of Florida have been inseparable for over 50 years, after Walt Disney decided that his second theme park and Epcot, his planned city of the future, would be located there. But over the last year, the relationship between the two has become heated, and things just took a very unexpected turn that involves English Common Law and the granddaughter of the King of England.

Last month Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law that made massive changes to the governing body of Walt Disney World, the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The district had been in place since the 1960s and it encompasses all of Walt Disney World. It gave the resort significantly more power over its own land than it otherwise would. Previously the district board was made up of landowners inside Walt Disney World, which were people Disney chose. The new law allowed the governor himself to appoint the board, which he did.

What The Princess of Sussex Has To Do With Disney World

Yesterday the new board, now called the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, met. This wasn't the first time, it was when they apparently discovered what Disney had done. The Orlando Sentinel reports that just before the new law was signed, the RCID passed an agreement that gave Disney World direct control over significant portions of land, with rights to potentially build new resort hotels and/or theme parks, and the language apparently also prevents the new board from undoing the deal.

Where things get a little crazy is that the term of the deal is written using traditional English Common Law language, which states…

If the perpetual term of this declaration is deemed to violate the “Rule Against Perpetuities” or any similar law or rule, this 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.

For the record, the youngest descendant of King Charles III as of the Declaration’s passing last month, is Princess Lillibet of Sussex, the youngest child of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. While the language may seem strange, The Rule Against Perpetuities is a tradition in English Common Law, so it's not that strange to see it in use in a formal document. Though I do wonder if this means Lillibet is the first actual royal to also be a Disney Princess.

What Florida Is Doing In Response To Disney World

Needless to say, the new board, which was installed as political retribution for Disney coming out against the Florida law referred to as “Don’t Say Gay,” is very unhappy. The board’s meeting yesterday included a decision to hire outside counsel in an attempt to find legal remedies to getting around this Declaration. One board member went so far as to state that with the agreement in place, Disney now has control and the board has none. It seems likely this will be going to court.

It has to be said it was more than a little surprising when Florida started to make noise about repealing the Reedy Creek Improvement District because Disney seemed to just let it happen. There were no legal challenges to the repeal, despite there being at least an argument that Florida went about the repeal the wrong way. Even after the law was signed, Disney World released a simple statement promising to work within the new system.

But now we know that Disney World had a plan, they just didn’t advertise it. Beyond, of course, the fact that the Reedy Creek Board’s meetings are all open under Florida law, so what it did was public, it’s just that nobody apparently noticed. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.