An Alabama man has been arrested after police found him allegedly camping on an abandoned island at Walt Disney World, apparently intending to stay there for a few days.
According to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department arrest report obtained by USA Today, Richard McGuire, 42, from Mobile, Alabama, was arrested on April 30 for trespassing, after police found him allegedly camping out on Discovery Island, a site that was once used by Walt Disney World as an attraction but has since been abandoned for decades.
Walt Disney World has been closed for weeks, with no reopening date in sight, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, somehow McGuire was able to make his way on to the property, go across Bay Lake, and set up camp on the island. How he got from the shore to the island, a journey of a few hundred feet across waters that could possibly be inhabited by alligators, is also unclear.
According to statements purportedly made by McGuire, he had arrived on the island “Monday or Tuesday” (April 27 or 28), which means that, between his arrival and his April 30 arrest, he had likely been there for at least one or two days.
“Richard stated that he had made entry to the island to go camping on Monday or Tuesday and had planned on staying on the island for approximately one week,” Robert Ricks, a police officer in Orange County, reported.
McGuire had allegedly been staying in one of the abandoned buildings on the island, which he purportedly described as a “tropical paradise.”
After a security guard who spotted McGuire notified police, authorities searched for him with boats, helicopters, and on foot. After he was spotted and detained, according to Newsweek, he reportedly told officers that he wasn’t aware that he couldn’t be on the island. However, multiple “No Trespassing” signs are posted all around the island and the empty Walt Disney World resort.
McGuire has been banned from all Disney properties and charged with misdemeanor trespassing.
Discovery Island was an original Walt Disney World attraction when the Florida megaresort opened in the early 1970s. Visitors to the island could explore its beach, wildlife, and plant life. However, the island closed in 1999, and though ideas have been put forward to reopen it in one form or another, it remains empty.
As reported by The Inquisitr, no timeframe is in place for reopening Walt Disney World or other Central Florida theme parks. Local and state officials, in conjunction with theme park executives and area business leaders, are currently considering a plan that would see the Disney parks — as well as other area attractions — reopen in phases.