On April 23, 2023, Mouse Trap News published an article claiming that the National Guard had blocked all entrances to Disney World:
National Guard Blocks All Entrances to Disney World
It's not every day the National Guard is called in for something. Typically, they are called in to support communities in times of need. Usually, this happens after severe weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes or civil unrest. However, now the Florida government called in the National Guard to block all entrances to Walt Disney World.
The claim spread amid the Walt Disney Company suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on April 26, 2023. The suit claimed DeSantis tried to "weaponize government power" over the company.
The Mouse Trap News article later states that DeSantis and the state of Florida made the decision in order to "put additional pressure on Disney to rethink their woke agenda and go back to being a company for families."
Mouse Trap News also posted the claim to their social media accounts, including TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. We found posts about the claim that linked to the article on Facebook and Twitter.
The article isn't real news. Mouse Trap News is a Disney-themed satire website. The following disclaimer is on their "About" page:
Mouse Trap News is the world's best satire site. We write fake stories about Disney Parks stuff. From Disney Park announcements to Disney Hotel and resort news to made-up Disney partnerships, you can be assured that anything you read here is not true, real, or accurate, but it is fun.
If the National Guard were being deployed to block the entrances to Disney World, reputable news publications would be reporting what had happened. The only report we could find making that claim was from Mouse Trap News.
Could the Florida National Guard Be Deployed Against Disney World?
The Florida National Guard can be deployed either on state or federal missions. The Florida State Guard was reestablished in 2022 after previously being disbanded in 1947, and was described by the Tampa Bay Times as a supplement to the Florida National Guard.
There is no evidence that either could be deployed to block Disney World's entrances in the first place. When we reached out for comment, a Florida National Guard spokesperson wrote, "There is no truth to this claim. The Florida National Guard has not been activated for such a mission." DeSantis' office also wrote the claim is false when we reached out for comment. We also reached out to the Florida State Guard and will update this fact check if we hear back.
The governor of Florida serves as the commander in chief of all the militia of the state. The National Guard is defined as militia in a 2022 Florida statute concerning state military affairs states. The statute states:
The Governor may, in order to preserve the public peace, execute the laws of the state, enhance domestic security, respond to terrorist threats or attacks, respond to an emergency as defined in s. 252.34 or imminent danger thereof, or respond to any need for emergency aid to civil authorities as specified in s. 250.28, order into state active duty all or any part of the militia which he or she deems proper.
S. 252.34 is a 2021 Florida statute related to emergency management. It defined emergency as:
"Emergency" means any occurrence, or threat thereof, whether natural, technological, or manmade, in war or in peace, which results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population or substantial damage to or loss of property.
The other Florida statute mentioned, s. 250.28, is related to military support to civil authorities. It states:
When an invasion or insurrection in the state is made or threatened, or whenever there exists a threat to security, a terrorist threat or attack, a riot, a mob, an unlawful assembly, a breach of the peace, or resistance to the execution of the laws of the state, or imminent danger thereof, which civil authorities are unable to suppress, the Governor, or in case the Governor cannot be reached and the emergency will not permit awaiting his or her orders, the successor as provided in s. 14.055, or, if the appropriate successor cannot be reached and the emergency will not permit awaiting his or her orders, the Adjutant General, shall issue an order to the officer in command of the body of troops best suited for the duty for which a military force is required, directing the officer to proceed with the troops, or as many as necessary, with all possible promptness, to respond to the invasion, insurrection, threat to security, terrorist threat or attack, riot, mob, unlawful assembly, breach of the peace, or resistance to execution of the laws of the state.
The Florida National Guard has previously been deployed in potential cases of "civil unrest." For example, the guard was deployed ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden's inauguration in response to possible protests at the state capitol in January 2021. In contrast, visiting Disney World is not an "invasion or insurrection," nor would it normally result in "substantial injury or harm to the population."
As for the Florida State Guard, it is separate from the Florida National Guard, but still under the command of the governor of Florida, according to the Florida State Defense Force codified in a 2022 Florida statute.
The Florida State Defense Force states that the guard can be activated if the Florida National Guard is actively engaged in federal service and the governor has declared a state of emergency. According to the Florida State Defense Force, the Florida State Guard can be activated:
only to preserve the public peace, execute the laws of the state, enhance domestic security, respond to terrorist threats or attacks, respond to an emergency as defined in s. 252.34 or imminent danger thereof, or respond to any need for emergency aid to civil authorities as specified in s. 252.38
S. 252. 38 is a 2022 Florida statute regarding emergency management powers of political subdivisions. The areas that fall under this statute are counties or municipalities. Disney World is neither.
The State National Guard's website says, "The Florida State Guard is the state's civilian defense force that assists Floridians during natural disasters or man-made emergencies." Going to Disney World is neither. In addition, s. 252. 38 is the only difference between when the State National Guard and Florida National Guard can be activated, according to their legal statutes. As such, there's no evidence that the State National Guard could be activated to Disney World either.
For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.