Homicide of 18-Year-Old Man Reported at Magic Kingdom, But Things Weren’t As They Seemed

disney world cinderella castle ai rendering and police car
Credit: Nightcafe/Canva

A recent spike in violent crimes at Disney World largely went unnoticed by many at first, but now officials know that the blame for the influx lies at the feet of the residents of the city of Philadelphia and Philadelphia law enforcement.

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Credit: Nightcafe AI

Four Theme Parks and Limitless Magic

For an exhilarating 18 months, beginning in October 2021, the Walt Disney World Resort hosted a celebration of magic (and somewhat mammoth) proportions in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Central Florida theme park resort in 1971. Back then, however, the resort featured only one theme park–Magic Kingdom Park.

Related: Former Pastor’s Trips to Disney World Land Him Among the FBI’s “Most Wanted”

Today, Disney World is home to four exciting theme parks, as EPCOT opened in 1982, followed by Disney’s Hollywood Studios (then known as Disney-MGM Studios) in 1989. Disney’s Animal Kingdom was added to the roster on Earth Day in 1998. The theme park giant also has two themed water parks and more than two dozen resort hotels on Disney’s property in the Sunshine State.

Of the four theme parks at Disney World, Magic Kingdom welcomes the most Guests through its gates each year. With an average attendance of nearly 57,000 guests every day of the year, Magic Kingdom is the single most visited theme park in the entire world, and there are a number of reasons why.

cinderella castle save money walt disney world

Credit: Becky Burkett

Magic Kingdom Nostalgia

Six themed lands make up Magic Kingdom, but the land enjoyed most by guests who love revisiting the Disney nostalgia of their childhoods is Fantasyland.

Fantasyland is home to storybook attractions inspired by some of Walt Disney Animation’s most beloved classic films, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Dumbo (1941), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), and others.

little mermaid ride at magic kingdom

Credit: Disney Parks

Recently, however, Fantasyland has reportedly become the stuff of nightmares–rather than dreams come true as reports of violent crimes, including homicides and aggravated assaults at Magic Kingdom, have become more prevalent.

Violent Crime at Fantasyland?

Most Guests who frequent the Walt Disney World Resort report feeling relatively safe during their visit to the parks. A lot of hard work goes into keeping Disney World safe, clean, and conducive to a magical experience for guests every time they visit.

However, according to an investigation carried out by NBC, Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland recently experienced a sizeable increase in the number of violent crimes reported within its boundaries. It was a shocking revelation, to say the least.–but not nearly as shocking as the revelation that followed it.

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Philadelphia Police Officers/Credit: Flickr/Sherry DiAngelo

An Even More Shocking Find

As investigators carried out a deep dive into the Philadelphia Police Department’s criminal activity records, they discovered a practice that had been taking place for nearly a decade–one that was ultimately to blame for what looked like an uptick in crime at the Most Magical Place on Earth.

Over the previous ten years, the Philadelphia Police Department had used a confusing method to give the location of a crime–but only if they weren’t sure exactly where a crime took place. The practice yielded some very misleading results.

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Credit: Becky Burkett

Any time the department was assigned to investigate a crime, a police report was generated. Information on the report included details about the crime itself, as well as the date on which the crime was committed, the time of day, possible suspects and persons of interest, and other pertinent details.

From time to time, however, typos and other mistakes could lead to confusion about where a particular crime was committed, and when the department didn’t know with certainty where a crime took place, they would simply complete the report with alternate GPS coordinates. Unfortunately, the coordinates were not arbitrary.

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Credit: Flickr/Stephen Eckart/Becky Burkett/Canva

Rather, the coordinates used by Philly’s finest were associated with a location inside Fantasyland at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. As such, reports about some of the violent crimes that were actually committed in the city of Philadelphia showed them to have taken place near Cinderella’s majestic abode.

A Heartbreaking Loss Misrepresented

Though such practices are permissible, they are not without casualties–especially for the families of victims of violent crime. Philadelphia resident Shineka Crawford will never forget the day a gunman killed her son Shaquille Barbour.

“The pain never goes away and never gets better,” she said of her grief.

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Shaquille Barbour, age 18/Credit: National Gun Violence Memorial

Barbour’s family witnessed the tragedy when it played out in front of them 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 his family members were there when it happened and can attest to the location of the crime.

Instead, the police report about the homicide lists the location of the shooting as Fantasyland inside Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. Sadly, those responsible for completing the associated report mistakenly listed the location as North 68th Street rather than 68th Avenue. However, no such street exists in Philadelphia, so investigators used the erroneous Fantasyland GPS coordinates in the report instead, meaning that the investigation report related to the murder inaccurately reads as though Barbour was killed in Fantasyland.
The crime took place in 2021, and to this day, it remains among Philadelphia’s unsolved crimes, and it’s just one of countless crimes that have been officially and erroneously recorded as having taken place at Disney World rather than in the City of Brotherly Love.

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.

drexel university

Credit: Drexel University

Kane pointed out that the practice itself isn’t uncommon, though using Disney World’s coordinates is. In fact, using alternate coordinates for crime locations on police reports is a practice that’s carried out by many police departments when the exact location is not known.

The Los Angeles Police Department once used the coordinates of the location of its offices as the location of crimes when information was not available or incorrect, but in general, the coordinates (0,0) are used. That’s because those coordinates are associated with the location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where the equator and the prime meridian intersect.

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Credit: Google Maps

“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.

A Light Bulb Moment & A New Way of Doing Things

Kevin Thomas, Philadelphia Police Department’s Director of Research and Analysis, claimed he was unaware that the department was using coordinates at Disney World. He added that the NBC investigation was what brought the situation to light for him.

“Thinking through this a little bit further, speaking to some of the leadership at PPD, we made the adjustment,” Thomas explained. The new way of doing things includes plotting inaccurate crimes in the Atlantic Ocean, as is the standard procedure for law enforcement agencies across the country.

Disney World Arrest

Credit: Disney/Natalie Curling TikTok

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.

NBC’s investigation yielded the following results from data pulled on July 14, 2022: 799 crimes that took place in Philadelphia were reported with Disney World’s coordinates. Of those crimes, six were homicides, two were rapes, and close to 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!

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