The internet is abuzz with news about National Guard involvement at Disney World this week, but further digging reveals there’s more to that story than first meets the eye.
Unless you’re such a fan of Disney’s The Little Mermaid that you make your dwelling “under the sea,” you’re probably familiar by now with the escalating feud between The Walt Disney Company and Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis. The two have been at odds since March 2022, and the bickering, back-biting, and overall nastiness have yet to find their ends.
An Unending Barrage of Attacks on Both Sides
The debacle has largely played out like a tennis match–one in which the head of every member of the very captive audience (or perhaps an audience held captive) moves side to side, left to right, as we witness the two entities engaged in a never-ending barrage of tit-for-tat exchanges, the latest being a lawsuit filed by The Walt Disney Company on Wednesday against DeSantis and the Florida legislature. The suit accuses DeSantis and Florida lawmakers of infringing on Disney’s rights to free speech and calls out the Sunshine State management team for targeted retaliation against Disney.
Only days before Disney filed suit against DeSantis, however, a report dated April 23 seemed to chronicle yet another strategic attack in the Disney v. DeSantis feud: the arrival of Florida National Guardsmen at the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida near Orlando.
According to the report, National Guardsmen were deployed on Sunday, April 23, to block all available entrances into the Most Magical Place on Earth, rendering the parks very un-magical, indeed. While in place, road blockages deterred thousands of Guests from getting into the parks for which they had Park Pass Reservations and caused thousands of Guests to miss their advance dining reservations inside the parks.
“All of these roads now have National Guard trucks deployed on them, blocking the entrances to Disney,” the report about Sunday’s activity at Disney read in part. “Anyone who wants to visit Disney World now needs to go through the National Guard first. In fact, it’s a lot like U.S. border checkpoints.”
Only Cast Members Allowed Entry
Guardsmen were reportedly operating on orders to prevent all access to Disney World for Guests. Cast Members, however, were allowed entry–so long as they provided identification to prove their employment with the parks. Cast Members were also subject to vehicle searches to ensure no Guests were entering the parks by way of a compassionate Cast Member. Guests already on Disney World property at the time the roadblocks were erected were free to stay in the parks.
“All exits from Disney World are wide open, and anyone can leave at any time,” the report continued. “This move by Governor Desantis and the State of Florida is to put additional pressure on Disney to rethink their agenda and go back to being a company for families. They are applying direct pressure on Disney and forcing their hands. If Disney wants to keep generating money, it will need to make concessions to the Florida Government.”
The same day the “report” about a National Guard presence at the Disney World parks circulated, the super sleuths at Snopes published its own report–one that called out the story as nothing more than a piece of satire.
“If the National Guard were being deployed to block the entrances to Disney World,” a post at Snopes reads, “reputable news publications would be reporting what had happened. There is no evidence that [the Florida National Guard or Florida State Guard] could be deployed to block Disney World’s entrances in the first place.”
A spokesperson for the Florida National Guard told Snopes that claims about guardsmen setting up roadblocks at Disney World’s entrances were completely bogus.
“There is no truth to this claim,” the spokesperson said. “The Florida National Guard has not been activated for such a mission.”
Initially, however, the claim duped many readers. There’s no word so far on whether the ridiculousness of the Disney v. DeSantis shenanigans led to the believability of such a claim, but it’s entirely possible.