New Threat Targets Disney World, Travel Warning Issued

in Walt Disney World

A lull in Walt Disney World crowds, with only a few Guests standing outside Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Walt Disney World Resort vacationers might want to pack extra bug spray and anti-itch ointment, as an invasive insect species has forced a travel warning in the Central Florida area.

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Numerous non-profits and NGOs have warned LGBTQIA+ people, non-United States citizens, and people of color against traveling to Florida under current Governor Ron DeSantis. Many Walt Disney World Resort fans canceled their vacations in the wake of the travel advisory, especially after DeSantis appointed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board to govern the municipal area.

The latest threat isn’t legislation but an invasive animal–and no, it’s not the bear that broke into Magic Kingdom Park! The University of Florida revealed a species of “crazy ants” known scientifically as tawny ants or Rasberry crazy ants was spotted in Central Florida.

Two tawny crazy ants, the cause of the Disney World travel warning
Credit: The University of Texas at Austin

Tawny ants originate from South America but have established colonies in all Gulf Coast states. They’re named for their reddish-brown color and how they move: “quickly and erratically.”

According to ClickOrlando, the ants are known for “super colonies” that spread over large areas. This means that exterminating one nest isn’t enough. The ants are so pervasive that homeowners report “the ground appears to be moving thanks to the sheer volume of ants in any one nest.”

“We had a big infestation in a golf course community, and they were actually coming from a wooded area near the golf course…” said Dr. Rudolf Scheffrahn, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida. “You can spray the infested area, but it doesn’t kill the colony.”

Guests walking in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom behind Cinderella Castle
Credit: Ed Aguila, Inside the Magic

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Luckily, a tawny ant bite isn’t dangerous or long-lasting. It’s mildly venomous but only hurts for a few moments. Furthermore, Disney Park guests aren’t likely to see one of the invasive insects–the horticulture team takes care of most pests on theme park and Disney Resort hotel property.

The map below shows where tawny ants have been documented in Florida. Both Orange and Osceola Counties (which house Walt Disney World Resort) are highlighted:

A map of Florida highlighting specific counties in red against a white and blue background. The red counties appear scattered throughout the state, with some clusters in central and northern regions, near popular destinations like Disney World. The News4JAX logo is visible in the bottom right corner. The map shows where the ants that caused the Disney World travel warning have shown up.
Credit: WKMG

Related: Multiple Threat Advisories Now in Effect for Disney Destination, Hundreds of Guests To Cancel Vacations

The State Department hasn’t issued an official travel warning for Central Florida or Walt Disney World Resort. Warnings about the tawny ants came from the University of Florida but did not directly address Disney Park guests.

Have you spotted any “crazy ants” in Central Florida? In the comments, share your story with Inside the Magic. 

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