A year ago, I wrote a post that featured Mexico’s top 10 most popular amusement parks.
The theme of the article was that the top 10 were all built by private entities, which has led to some controversy.
For example, in 2014, the City of Mexico was sued for allegedly using taxpayer money to build one of the country’s most popular and expensive amusement parks without a public bidding process.
And in 2019, the National Tourism Commission (CNPT) filed a complaint against Walt Disney World in Mexico after the theme park operator was accused of using public funds to build an artificial reef that it claimed was designed to attract tourists to the resort.
Now, the CNPT has sent a letter to Walt Disney and Disney California, stating that the theme parks were built by “private entities,” which it said was not true.
The CNPT also said that Disney World did not pay taxes on the construction of the park or the park itself.
As such, the letter alleges that Walt Disney has violated the National Parks and Cultural Heritage Act, and that Walt was using public money to “influence the development of a park that was built with the intent to profit.”
It also alleges that Disney’s ownership of the parks violated Mexican law, and it alleges that the parks were “unlawful and in violation of the constitution, law and regulations” of Mexico.
In addition to being a violation of Mexican law and the constitution in general, Walt Disney’s Disneyland is also a violation to the law of the state of California, which prohibits the use of public funds for the construction or expansion of private facilities.
So if you’re going to build a theme park in Mexico, don’t try to build it in a country that is in a state that’s on the verge of bankruptcy.
Walt Disney Disney World was built in Mexico City, the capital of the newly independent state of Mexico, and the Walt Disney Company owns the resort, which opened in 2016.
According to Walt’s website, “Disney World is Mexico’s largest theme park with an average capacity of 6 million visitors a year.
Our theme parks are also the world’s most visited, and we have earned over $1.5 billion in global tourism revenue over the past decade.”
I’ve heard Disney World is a success story.
If that’s the case, why is it illegal to build amusement parks there?
First, it doesn’t.
The National Parks Act of 1906 prohibits any “public money to pay for the erection of any structure on public land.”
The act also forbids any “private person, firm, association, corporation, corporation partnership, or other organization” from “financing, constructing, managing, constructing or maintaining any amusement park or other amusement facility, including amusement rides.”
So in short, it forbids private entities from using taxpayer funds to erect a theme-park attraction that isn’t paid for by taxpayers.
But there are a couple of exceptions.
For instance, the park can still be built as part of a public use project.
If the park is used as part, say, of a national park, that would still be allowed.
And it’s illegal to construct any amusement attraction on public lands for a public purpose, such as an open-air carnival or for amusement.
The Disneyland park also can’t be built if it’s being used for a private purpose.
If Walt Disney is building a theme or attraction for a state park, he could still use the park for that purpose.
So Disneyland doesn’t necessarily violate the National Park Act in Mexico.
What is illegal?
Walt Disney, in a statement to Engadge, clarified that he is only building amusement park attractions in Mexico to promote tourism and create jobs.
In a statement, he said, “The Walt Disney Co. does not use public funds or private funds for constructing any of its theme parks in any country.
Our parks are privately owned and managed by our local partners, and all activities conducted by our partners are for private purposes.”
That doesn’t mean he can’t build a park for a government-owned purpose.
“Mexico is a sovereign country that does not have the power to impose laws on private parties or private entities,” said Daniel Guzman, a partner at the law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
“If you’re building something in Mexico that’s going to generate tourism, that’s not illegal.
You’re just building a place where tourists will be able to go to experience the attractions and that’s all.”
Guzman added that Mexico “has a very clear constitutional provision” that prevents private entities “from taking part in public life” in Mexico unless they are in the business of “public services.”
That law states that “the state has the right to regulate the public service and commerce of all its citizens, and to forbid the creation of any public office or organization that does public services for profit.”
But Guzman said the law doesn’t cover the construction and expansion of amusement parks for the amusement park operator