Disney theme parks have sometimes been marketed as “The happiest place on Earth,” but that didn’t wind up being the case for one Alabama man who tried to camp at Discovery Island inside Disney World (which has been shut down since March). The island itself is a lesser-known part of Disney World; it was open to guests from 1974-99, but has been closed since then. But it’s still owned by Disney and is still on their property, and it comes with plenty of signs prohibiting visitors. That didn’t stop 42-year-old Mobile, Alabama resident Richard McGuire from trying to camp there, though.
McGuire was found and arrested by Orange County (Florida) sheriff’s deputies Thursday night following a lengthy search, which started after Disney personnel spotted a man on the island. McGuire refused to leave the island, and he claimed he didn’t know he couldn’t go there. Here’s more on that from Levi Edwards of AL.com:
McGuire told deputies he had entered the island to go camping on Monday or Tuesday and had planned on staying on the island for approximately one week. The arresting deputy reported that he explained to McGuire he was in a restricted area that is not open to the public.
McGuire told the deputy he was unaware of it and that it “looked like a tropical paradise.”
Deputies earlier in the day had been searching for a man spotted at the island by Disney personnel. Deputies searched for the man on foot, by boat and by using a sheriff’s helicopter, according to the report. Orange County Marine deputies had been on Bay Lake making announcements via a public address system to tell the man to exit the island, the affidavit states.
“Richard (McGuire) said that he did not see or hear them due to being asleep in one of the buildings on the island,” the report states.
Discovery Island still has many of the buildings from when it was an operating part of Disney World. Only Disney employees are allowed to go there, but a few people have snuck out there over the years, including YouTube video creator Matt Sonswa. Here’s a video of it he posted in December 2018:
That does seem like an interesting place to explore, except for, you know, the laws banning that. But defying those laws didn’t work out too well for McGuire. Maybe being in Florida gave him some Florida Man inspiration. At least he was observing social distancing practices?