Elephants are chillaxing in tea gardens after getting sloshed on corn wine and wolves are racing against cars on city streets. To quote the meme, “wildlife is returning,” no longer scared off by the loud and disruptive flow of our typical human society. It’s natural law, turned on its head, and so you almost can’t blame 42-year-old Richard McGuire for believing that he too could claim a seemingly abandoned space, making it his temporary home and a place where he could camp and live his best solitude during quarantine. If you’re Walt Disney World, however, you apparently can blame him. And you can press charges. Trespassing: it’s still a thing.
According to the Associated Press, McGuire got arrested Thursday after trying to occupy the long-abandoned spot in the Orlando, Florida based theme park where Treasure Island (later renamed Discovery Island) previously resided; an 11-acre island visible from The Contemporary resort in Bay Lake. Previously, the island was used as a bird sanctuary with snack stands and walking tours for visitors. It closed down in 1999, though, and glimpsing unauthorized footage of the island from a few years ago makes it seem as though McGuire wasn’t exactly kicking it in paradise, even though that’s what he thought it was when he discovered it on Monday or Tuesday, according to the arrest report.
Buildings have crumbled and been overrun by nature. It’s creepy and endlessly interesting. Insider ran a thing on it last year (with screenshots from the aforementioned footage) and noted that while the island may be abandoned, Disney definitely keeps a watchful eye on it and doesn’t seem keen to let people step inside. Especially in the time of ‘rona.
How McGuire made landfall is a curiosity (one of many!). Did he hike through the massive, locked-down Disney World compound before seeing what he perceived to be Shangri la by happenstance? A Disney official did comment to the AP that they’d seen him using one of their boats at one point on Thursday, so there’s also that. As you’d imagine, signs are said to be abound, telling people to keep out and authorities apparently used a megaphone trying to warn the interloper that he was on private property — but he was having a nap. Legend.
This is all very serious, of course. But while creatives wrestle with which stories to tell and how to focus art once the COVID crisis is over, I absolutely want to call this one out. Let’s see Danny McBride play some chill, good times seeking dude who tries to start an island nation of one in the middle of a theme park. We deserve that much.