A lot of serious Walt Disney World fans probably went slightly mad during the period when the resort was closed earlier this year. Some people drove as close as they could get to take pictures by the gate. Others simply waited for news of reopening. However, one dedicated person, who may or may not actually be a big Disney World fan, took things a step further earlier this year when he actually broke into Walt Disney World. He spent a couple of days on Bay Lake's Discovery Island. We now know what happened to the man, and it was both everything you'd expect, and not.
Richard McGuire was arrested May 1, 2020, after reportedly spending two days on Discovery Island. The Island sits in Bay Lake, one of the bodies of water where several Walt Disney World resort hotels and Disney Springs can be found. When arrested McGuire claimed to not realize he was trespassing, though he would have had to pass several signs that made that clear. Especially since this was during the period where Walt Disney World was closed. CCTV cameras on the island eventually picked up McGuire's movements and the police moved in. There has even been body camera footage of the manhunt released.
Upon being arrested, Richard McGuire was officially "trespassed" from Walt Disney World, meaning he had been banned from all WDW property. That part is far from surprising, it's exactly what has happened to numerous other people who have run afoul of Walt Disney World's rules in far less significant ways. However, The Street Journal reports that while McGuire did face criminal trespassing charges, he's walking away after paying only a $100 fine.
The minimal fine is part of a plea deal that McGuire struck with Orange County officials. He was reportedly facing up to a 12-month jail term for misdemeanor trespass, in extreme cases trespassing can be charged as a felony, resulting in up to five years in prison. However, in exchange for a no-contest plea, he's only paying the $100 fine.
Discovery Island used to be accessible to guests and was a small zoological park that Walt Disney World guests could visit for a small fee. In 1999, the island was closed and the wildlife was transferred to either Disney's Animal Kingdom or other zoos. The fact that Disney now had an entire theme park dedicated to wild animals made Discovery Island somewhat superfluous. For the last 20 years the island has been abandoned, and as the video above shows, has fallen into disrepair. It's not at all surprising that the area is popular among the "urban explorer" set, but because of its location, it has fewer problems with trespassing than other spots.
While the criminal penalty here was incredibly minor, at the end of the day Disney is likely happy to simply have the man banned from the resort.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.