FBI agents on a mission arrived at Disney World, searching specifically for two Guests accused of committing federal crimes while on Disney property.
News about the FBI’s involvement at a Disney Park has surfaced yet again–this time as agents from the Bureau’s Tampa, Florida office opened an investigation at the Walt Disney World Resort in response to reports of Guests allegedly committing felony offenses that warranted federal agent’s immediate attention.
On a warm summer morning at Disney World, a landscaping supervisor was going about his work near Magic Kingdom when he noticed something out of place. As he walked toward his office trailer in a backstage area of the Florida theme park, he noticed a red two-door Oldsmobile vehicle parked behind his van. Inside the vehicle were a man and a woman, neither of whom he recognized. The vehicle was not familiar to him either.
When he got into his van and proceeded to drive away from the trailer, the unknown duo reportedly followed him briefly before driving around the parking lot, pointing toward the woods nearby and looking as though they were checking the license plates of other vehicles in the lot. When the supervisor stopped to offer the pair assistance, they gave him a response he wasn’t expecting.
“I went over to see if I could help them or what they wanted,” he said in a statement, “and the woman flipped out a book and badge, stating they were FBI investigators.”
Two other contractors had interactions with the supposed FBI investigators that day. According to one of them, the woman who was seen in the red vehicle eventually opened the door and exited the vehicle, approached the employee in the office trailer, and asked if she could use the phone, but the phone had been disconnected. Once the woman discovered the phone wasn’t working, she left the trailer and got back into her vehicle. One of the witnesses stated that she watched the car exit the parking lot near Magic Kingdom.
FBI files that have since been made public show that on July 17, 1989, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Tampa office launched an investigation into reports about two individuals at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, who claimed to be agents with the FBI. But the landscaping team members who saw the individuals had their doubts about the legitimacy of the individuals’ claims. Their eyebrows were immediately raised when they noticed that the woman who got out of the vehicle to use the phone in the trailer was wearing a pair of shorts and a tank top. Though she flashed what appeared to be an FBI identification badge to the Magic Kingdom landscaping supervisor that day, the entire incident seemed questionable from the beginning.
Since he was first appointed to the role of director of the FBI by President Calvin Coolidge, J. Edgar Hoover was clear about his feelings toward the idea of agents wearing shorts. Even after his death in 1972, the Bureau reportedly continued to uphold the dress code initially installed by Hoover.
As such, it’s highly improbable that FBI agents would arrive at Magic Kingdom wearing shorts and tank tops.
Pursuant to federal law, it is unlawful to impersonate an FBI agent. Such an offense is a federal crime under 18 U.S.C. § 912, which makes it illegal for an individual to falsely represent himself as a federal agent in an attempt to deceive or intimidate others. Penalties for conviction of such an offense in federal court include up to three years in prison in addition to hefty fines.
The landscapers contacted the authorities–though it isn’t clear whether they contacted local law enforcement or if they reached out directly to the Tampa office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Later that day, however, the landscaping team members were asked to give accounts about the alleged impersonators at Magic Kingdom. In a statement submitted to the FBI, the supervisor detailed his experience with the impersonators, saying the following:
“I am the [redacted] for BUCC Landscaping, and my office trailer is at [the Magic Kingdom] yard. As I pulled in the yard, I [saw] a red two-door Oldsmobile with Alamo Rental tags parked behind my van in front of the office trailer. I went over to see if I could help them or what they wanted, and the woman flipped out a book and badge, stating they were FBI investigators. There was a man in the front seat with her. Both people were in their late 20s or early 30s. The woman came into [the] office after I entered to use the phone. Our phone was disconnected. They went through [the] parking lot checking out auto tags. The woman was short, [with] light-colored hair, wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. The man was dark-haired [and] heavy-set. The man never got out of the car, only the woman.”
Other witnesses gave accounts to the FBI that day as well. Images of some of their written statements can be seen below.
But while the landscapers’ statements gave ample descriptions about the vehicle driven by the couple, as well as about the appearance of the two alleged impersonators–even to the point of estimating how much the female impersonator weighed–they were largely too vague, with the exception of the inclusion of the license plate number of the vehicle driven by the couple that day by one of the witnesses.
On July 28, 1989, eleven days after the couple was seen in the backstage area at Magic Kingdom, an FBI interoffice memorandum recommended that a “47C-NEW be opened and assigned to conduct a limited investigation, including, but not limited to, interviews of employees having contact with the alleged FBI investigators.”
Ultimately, though, there was not enough evidence to continue the investigation. In a memo dated October 11, 1989, the Bureau concluded that the witnesses’ statements “contained no substantial information that would constitute a viable lead.” According to the memo, on September 22, 1989, an investigator on the case stated that there had been “no further incidents involving these individuals.” On the same day, the Assistant U. S. Attorney was also contacted in regard to the investigation, and he told the Tampa Bureau that “his office would most likely decline prosecution in a matter such as this.”
The case was officially closed on October 12, 1989. To this day, the identities of the two individuals remain a mystery, as do their true intentions while being parked near an office trailer in a backstage parking lot near Magic Kingdom.