If you thought the Reedy Creek Improvement District (now Central Florida Tourism Oversight District) battles were limited to legal issues over the agreements Disney entered into with the prior board of supervisors, you’d be wrong. The battle is reaching beyond that now.
Previously, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had indicated that he wanted to change some things about Disney World and how safety inspections are done, specifically getting the government more involved when it comes to inspection regulations. We saw the new Board of Supervisors hear some arguments about inspections and Disney World pools recently as well. DeSantis had specifically pointed out the monorail as something he wanted the state to be able to inspect, and now we’re seeing DeSantis’ plan come together.
During a previous press conference, DeSantis discussed the Disney World monorail and how it is not subject to state safety inspections. He said, “This monorail is exempt. They exempted the Monorail from any safety standards or inspections…so they’re gonna go and make sure that the monorail is subject to oversight just like everything else would be in the state of Florida.”
DeSantis had indicated that the legislature would be working on a legislative amendment to change this inspection situation, and now that amendment has been filed.
The language is part of an amendment filed to Senate Bill 1250, which is described as a “GENERAL BILL by Appropriations Committee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development.”
The amendment would require the addition of some language to the Florida statutes under a section about transit safety standards, inspections, and system safety reviews. The statute already requires the Department of Transportation to adopt minimum safety standards for government-owned fixed-guideway transportation systems and privately owned/operated fixed-guideway transportation systems that are financed wholly or partly by state funds.
But with this amendment, the Department would also have to adopt minimum safety standards for another VERY specific form of transportation: “any governmentally or privately owned fixed-guideway transportation systems operating in this state which are located within an independent special district created by local act which have boundaries within two contiguous counties.”
It’s not clear how many other independent special districts in Florida have boundaries within 2 contiguous counties and have a fixed-guideway transportation system, but it appears the language would apply to the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and presumably the monorail within it since that District is an independent special district that crosses 2 contiguous counties and the monorail is a privately owned fixed-guideway transportation system within that District. (Some have also questioned whether this language would mean inspections would also apply to the Skyliner.)
The amendment would also require the Department to conduct structural safety inspections for fixed-guideway transportation systems that are raised or have bridges. The amendment specifies, “Inspectors must follow departmental safety protocols during safety inspections, including requiring the suspension of system service to ensure safety and welfare of inspectors and the traveling public during such inspections.”
Unless such safety inspections are done in the middle of the night or early in the morning, entirely suspending the monorail so that the Department can come and inspect it (pursuant to this amendment) could cause headaches for Disney and Disney guests as they try to make their way around the parks.
The Amendment was filed on April 24th, 2023 (and tackles other things as well). The bill to which it was filed is on the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee agenda for April 25th at 10AM.
As The Orlando Sentinel points out, this particular amendment doesn’t address some other inspection issues DeSantis had raised — like having the state take over safety inspections for Disney’s other rides. So there could be more things to come there. The Sentinel also points out that the Disney World monorail hasn’t been without its fair share of complications — from a mechanical failure that left guests stranded, to a monorail car crash with the car towing it.
What’s interesting to note, however, is that this amendment seems to narrowly apply to these types of transportation systems that are located within a special district. Disney World is the only major Central Florida theme park that is located in a special district.
Even if legislators were to introduce other amendments or bills tackling theme park ride inspections, etc. if those are all limited to theme parks within special districts (as DeSantis had indicated such restrictions would be), it would mean that other spots like SeaWorld and Universal Orlando would continue to remain exempt from state inspection regulations, while Disney World would not.
We’ll keep an eye out for more updates about the bill to which this monorail-related amendment has been filed and let you know what we find.
To read the latest updates from the new board of the District, click here. And stay tuned for more news.
See how Disney has subtly responded to the Reedy Creek drama
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The post Disney World Monorail Inspections Could CHANGE Thanks to Gov. DeSantis’ Plans first appeared on the disney food blog.