A Strange Phenomenon Near Disney World Has Residents Pulling Out Their Cameras and Calling the Police

in Disney Parks, Featured, Movies & TV, Walt Disney World

Image of a colorful castle at a theme park, with a bright pink and purple sky in the background. The foreground is obstructed by multiple yellow "caution: monkeys loose in Florida" tapes running

Credit: Becky Burkett/Canva

In recent weeks, people living near the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida have witnessed an extremely strange phenomenon that has left them in a state of shock as they race to their phones–to take photos and call the police.

A vibrant, surreal collage featuring a fairy-tale Disney World castle with animals such as elephants, lions, monkeys, and a toucan in fantastical poses, set against a vivid pink and blue sky
Credit: Becky Burkett/Canva

Animals Are Central to the Magic at Disney World

Just as they have been in classic Disney animated films since 1937, animals are a big part of the magic at the four theme parks at Walt Disney World.

It’s easy to see this at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as the park is centered around the themes of animals and conservation. But animals are an integral part of Disney World’s magic across all four of its theme parks.

A serene underwater tunnel at Disney World, with vibrant blue light, displaying large aquarium tanks on either side, filled with various fish swimming among coral reefs.
Credit: Disney Parks

Wild Animal Sightings at Disney World 

Occasionally, however, wild animals find their way into guest areas at Disney World. And though there are almost no incidences of a wild animal harming a guest on Disney’s property, a small child was killed in 2016 when an alligator pulled him under the water as he and his family were playing along the shores of Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

Grand Floridian Resort, exterior aerial shot
Credit: Disney

While it’s not an uber-common occurrence, wild animal sightings on Disney World’s property have been reported more frequently than usual in recent months.

In July 2023, multiple reports surfaced about a bear being spotted at EPCOT. Then, in mid-September, a female black bear was spotted at Magic Kingdom. The sighting led to the complete closure of the Adventureland, Frontierland, and Liberty Square sections of the park.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officers searched for the bear while the three lands of the park were closed to guests, ultimately locating her and subduing her so they could capture her and move her to a more suitable environment.

A graphic featuring a black bear overlaying an image of Disney World with a neon pink text "captured" across the center, set against a vibrant night sky.
Credit: DisneyDining

Even before officials had the bear removed from the area, however, Magic Kingdom reopened the previously closed sections of the park, and wait times for attractions skyrocketed. An exclusive video from the Fish and Wildlife Commission showed the exact moment when the bear was re-homed inside Ocala National Forest in Marion County, Florida, approximately 90 minutes from the Walt Disney World Resort.

In fact, reports of numerous animals inside the parks have been made over the years. So far, those reports include name bats, bears, miniature horses, and feral cats among the wildlife seen at Disney World, though some of those sightings were the result of the intentional inclusion of certain animals in the parks.

A scene from "The Jungle Book" featuring Mowgli, Baloo the bear, and Bagheera the panther standing together in a lush jungle, surrounded by monkeys loose in Florida, expressing
Credit: Walt Disney Animation

But recent sightings near the Central Florida Disney parks include an animal that no one expected to see outside of Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise attraction–or as part of an experience created to celebrate Walt Disney Animation’s 1967 film, The Jungle Book.

A Strange Phenomenon, Especially in Florida

In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of monkeying around in Central Florida–though not at the Walt Disney World Resort.

In the city of Groveland, Florida, just 24 miles from Disney World, and in the city of Clermont, Florida, approximately 19 miles from the parks, residents have been calling police to report the sightings of primates.

“I was picking up my daughter at school, and then I saw [what] I thought was a cat,” explained Maxel Miranda, a resident in the area who saw one of the monkeys. “When I got closer, I saw it was a monkey.”

Miranda captured footage of a monkey walking on all fours near South Lake High School in Clermont.

“This monkey went across the road, and I had to do a double take because I didn’t think that I was actually a monkey,” said another resident, Aime Krug, who says she saw the monkey while she was driving home from work.

A Strange Sight to See Outside of the Parks

Linda Wasko, a primate expert with Primate Paradise in Osteen, Florida, was able to identify one of the monkeys spotted in Groveland as a rhesus macaque. She says that the monkeys might have migrated from the Wekiva River area, located just north of Orlando.

A vervet monkey loose in Florida, sitting on a wooden railing in a natural setting with vibrant, blurred green foliage in the background. The monkey is looking directly at the camera with a curious expression.
Credit: Canva

“We can’t believe it!” said Simon Weafer, another resident in the area. “We have raccoons, and we have squirrels and stuff in our attic from time to time, but we’ve never seen a monkey, so that’s absolutely crazy.”

Wasko says that macaques usually stay with their troops and avoid humans, and though there has been no report of any of the monkeys causing problems or interfering with residents in the area, seeing the animals in Central Florida–outside of Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Animal Kingdom–has been shocking for those who live there.

The primates are just another type of animal visitors to the Sunshine State might encounter when they visit.

in Disney Parks, Featured, Movies & TV, Walt Disney World

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