Massive Uptick in Homicides, Violent Crimes Reported at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

fantasyland at disney world crime scene tape

For 18 months, beginning in October 2021, the Walt Disney World Resort hosted a celebration of magic and mammoth proportions as Disney commemorated the 50th anniversary of the opening of Magic Kingdom in 1971. Of the four theme parks at Disney World–Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom–Magic Kingdom welcomes the most Guests through its gates each year–an average of nearly 57,000 Guests each and every day of the year.

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cinderella castle prince charming carrousel disney world magic kingdom

Credit: Best of Orlando

Six themed lands make up Magic Kingdom–Main Street, U. S. A., Adventureland, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. And of all six lands, Fantasyland is the one enjoyed most by Guests who love the Disney part of their childhoods, as the land is chock full of rides, attractions, and character experiences inspired by classic Disney films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Dumbo (1941), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and more.

But recently, Fantasyland has become a bit more akin to Nightmare-land as the themed area of Disney World’s first park has become a magnet for violent crimes, including homicides and aggravated assaults.

Violent Crime at Fantasyland?

Most Guests who frequent the Walt Disney World Resort feel safe during their visit. Disney World goes to great lengths to make the Resort as safe as possible for Guests and Cast Members alike. Over the years, Disney World has built a reputation for being safe, clean, and of course, the Most Magical Place on Earth. But according to an investigation executed by NBC, Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland has seen a massive uptick in the number of violent crimes reported within its boundaries.

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Credit: Becky Burkett

As investigators took a deeper look at the Philadelphia Police Department’s criminal activity records, they discovered something that shocked them. For nearly ten years, police officers with the Philly Department implemented a practice that not only yielded confusing and misleading results but also seemed extremely irresponsible.

When crimes occur in Philadelphia (or any other city), police reports–which include details about the crime, the date and time the crime was committed, possible suspects, and more–are generated. But when Philadelphia officers weren’t sure about the exact location of a crime, or if typos on crime reports kept them from determining the location of the crime, the department simply marked the report with alternate GPS coordinates.

While this may seem harmless, the coordinates used by the department weren’t arbitrary. Instead, they are coordinates located at Fantasyland inside Magic Kingdom. As such, reports about violent crimes committed in Philadelphia for which there are no exact locations show that the crimes took place near Cinderella Castle instead of somewhere inside the city of Philly.

A Heartbreaking Loss Misrepresented

Philly resident Shineka Crawford remembers well the day a gunman killed her son Shaquille Barbour and says, “The pain never goes away and never gets better.” Barbour’s family witnessed the terrible tragedy that unfolded on 68th Avenue in West Oak Lane in Philadelphia. But Philadelphia Police Department paperwork concerning the crime states that Barbour was not killed on 68th Avenue–even though the crime was witnessed by his family members.

Rather, the department’s paperwork lists the location of the shooting as Fantasyland inside Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. That’s because officers who filled out the crime report erroneously listed the location of the murder as North 68th Street rather than 68th Avenue. But because no such location exists, the crime report includes the GPS coordinates for the Guest-favorite land inside Magic Kingdom at Disney World.

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Credit: Click Orlando

And the crime against Barbour is just one of the many crimes that have taken place over the years within the jurisdiction of the Philly Police Department–but have been recorded as having happened at Disney’s Fantasyland. Not only is the information misleading, but it doesn’t look good on the department as a whole.

A Misleading, Uncaring Practice

“[The practice] conveys the wrong message that a police department doesn’t really care,” said Robert Kane, Director of Drexel University’s Criminology and Justice Studies.

But Kane also says that Philly’s cops aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary–though he does point out that it’s not common to use a location like Disney World. The practice is not uncommon and is used by multiple police departments when incorrect information appears on an initial crime report. The Los Angeles Police Department once used the coordinates to its own office as the location of crimes when information was not available or incorrect, but in general, the coordinates (0,0), which is located in the Atlantic Ocean.

What is at Zero Degrees Latitude and Zero Degrees Longitude? - Geography  Realm

Credit: Geography Realm

“I don’t think you would want your crime or a crime committed against somebody close to you, kind of minimized by the very agency that’s supposed to be investigating and trying to make it right,” he explained.

Kevin Thomas, Philadelphia Police Department’s Director of Research and Analysis, said he had no idea the department was using Disney World’s coordinates in its crime reports. NBC’s investigation brought that to his attention for the first time.

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“Thinking through this a little bit further, speaking to some of the leadership at PPD, we made the adjustment,” Thomas explained. The department now plots inaccurate crimes in the Atlantic Ocean, as is the standard procedure across law enforcement agencies around the country.

While it’s true that Guests have been arrested for committing crimes at Disney World over the years, the crimes that show up on the Philadephia Police Department’s website are not included among those incidents.

Per the NBC investigation, data pulled from July 14, 2022, showed 799 crimes, each of which took place in Philadelphia–have “taken place” at Disney World since January 2022. Of those crimes, six were homicides, two were rapes, and almost 70 were aggravated assaults. 

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!