Man Caught Camping On WDW’s Abandoned Discovery Island; Called It “Tropical Paradise”

by SharonKurheg

I couldn’t have made this one up if I tried.

We reported in late March that The Walt Disney Company had closed both Walt Disney World and Disneyland due to coronavirus. They remain “indefinitely” closed at this time.

Welp, while the cat’s away, the mice will play (you see what I did there? I’m not sure who/what will play when The Mouse is away. Florida Man, I guess). So although Walt Disney World property has been closed for over a month now, apparently a man has been camping out there since early this week, on none other than Discovery Island.

Discovery Island has been unused and essentially abandoned since 1999.

According to Click Orlando/WKMG virtual channel 6, Disney security guards spotted the man on Disney property on Thursday, April 30th. They called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to 4301 World Drive, a “backstage” Disney area behind the Magic Kingdom, for assistance.

As per the arrest report, the Orange County deputies searched for the guy on foot, by helicopter and by boat (Discovery Island IS, after all, a real life island), before finally making contact with him.

The report said that when the deputies told the man that they had been using a loudspeaker to address him, he said he didn’t hear them because he had been sleeping in one of the buildings on the island.

The report went on to say that the guy claimed he wasn’t aware that the property was off limits and he had been camping there since Monday or Tuesday, with plans to stay for about a week. He referred to the island as a “tropical paradise.”

He was arrested and charged with trespassing onto private property. He was also “trespassed” from Walt Disney World property (that means he’s not allowed to return to the property), as per the sheriff’s report.

Discovery Island was used as a nature preserve of sorts from 1974 to 1999. Guests could pay to visit the island, which had plants and birds and rocks and things (I went as a kid. I was kinda bored), arriving by boat.

The island was closed to Disney guests in 1999, not long after Walt Disney World’s 4th major park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which featured a similar “nature” theme but on a much, much larger scale, opened.

Without use for the island, and no way for guests to (legally) access it, the island was pretty much abandoned. It sat, uninhabited, for just shy 20 years, until an urban explorer somehow got to the island and videotaped what he saw. Click here for more info about it, along with video footage.

There are no reports of how the guy got to the island. The nearest shore would be Fort Wilderness campgrounds, but he still would have needed to either use a boat to get across, or to swim. I shudder to think what could have happened to him if he swam – there are alligators in that water.

So yeah…Discovery Island Guy. Newest addition to the “Florida Man.” list. 😉

Feature Photo: Google Maps

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Christian May 2, 2020 - 11:56 pm

Interesting. I’m surprised that Disney allow alligators in their lakes. They have waterside resorts there and a small child could end up killed. Disney has also not been that tolerant of unwanted wildlife. Remember the buzzards?

PDavis May 3, 2020 - 10:12 am

As you may know, there was a small child killed at the Grand Floridian by an alligator a year or two ago. I don’t think Disney “allows” the alligators. That is just their natural habitat. It is Florida and DW is on a huge swamp so they are just naturally there.


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