ORLANDO, Fla. – Days after multiple internet companies blocked a YouTube creator from profiting off footage that appears to show people trespassing in Central Florida's theme parks, the videographer has found a new way to make money off his controversial videos.
Matthew St. Cyr, 23, has created his own website that enables him to accept financial contributions directly from his fans and supporters rather than using a third party fundraising company.
"It cannot get deleted. I'm the owner of it," St. Cyr said in a YouTube video promoting his new website.
Last month News 6 revealed that law enforcement is investigating videos St. Cyr has posted on his YouTube channel that appear to show people sneaking into theme parks and taking unauthorized tours of the attractions.
In one video, an unidentified man walks along the tracks of the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Disney's Animal Kingdom after-hours and touches the ride's animatronic yeti figure.
Another video reveals two men climbing a fence and entering Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay waterpark at night, where one man attempts to walk down a dry waterslide.
As part of its reporting on St. Cyr’s videos, News 6 contacted YouTube to inquire whether his content complied with the company’s policies prohibiting users from earning money off material that is illegal, promotes illegal activity or infringes on the legal rights of others.
After reviewing St. Cyr’s videos, YouTube demonetized St. Cyr’s channel so it is no longer eligible to generate revenue from advertisements.
Patreon, a fundraising website that enables artists and other content creators to accept donations for their work, suspended St. Cyr’s account while it reviews whether his content complies with its rules forbidding users from engaging in illegal conduct, the company told News 6.
SubscribeStar, a similar fundraising website used by St. Cyr, did not respond to an inquiry from News 6. However, St. Cyr claims that the company also blocked his ability to accept donations.
"I was making a living off of YouTube for a whole four-and-a-half days before Orlando's Channel 6 news decided to contact (Patreon, YouTube and SubscribeStar)," St. Cyr said in a recent video.
Donors who contribute at least one dollar per month to St. Cyr’s new website are promised access to “an archived collection of extra videos created to give viewers a deeper look into the shadowy world of backstage theme park exploring”.
Some of those extra videos were deleted from YouTube, according to St. Cyr.
In a disclaimer, the website states, “We do not condone the activities featured. Please do not attempt to replicate any activities seen here.”
However, the website also provides a place where viewers can anonymously share their own content with St. Cyr.
The website does not indicate whether people who contribute photos and videos to St. Cyr will receive compensation.
“In any case where we find someone being intentionally reckless and promoting unsafe acts, we will bring in law enforcement to trespass them so they will no longer be allowed to come back to Walt Disney World,” a Disney spokesperson told News 6 in response to its original report on St. Cyr.
“This is dangerous, reckless and unlawful behavior and we will not tolerate it,” a Universal Orlando spokesperson previously told News 6. “We are taking this very seriously and we are working with the Orlando Police Department on this.”
St. Cyr accused of trespassing at Busch Gardens
Prosecutors in Tampa have charged St. Cyr with two counts of misdemeanor trespassing after police reviewed videos on St. Cyr’s YouTube channel that reportedly shows him entering restricted areas at Busch Gardens theme park.
In one of the videos, St. Cyr can be seen climbing on the tracks of Gwazi, a wooden roller coaster that closed in 2015 and is currently being renovated.
“I do not want anybody seeing me up here. And I definitely don’t want to fall from up here,” St. Cyr said as he appears to scale one of the roller coaster’s hills.
As St. Cyr appears to be leaving the shuttered attraction, he acknowledged he was not allowed to be there.
“I’m going to get out of here before I get in trouble,” St. Cyr said on the video.
St. Cyr also recorded video inside closed haunted house attractions used during Busch Garden’s annual “Howl O Scream” Halloween event, according to Tampa Police.
A Busch Gardens design engineer who viewed St. Cyr’s videos determined they were recorded in December 2018, according to a police report.
As part of its investigation, a Tampa police officer placed a controlled phone call to St. Cyr.
“(He) admitted to being at Busch Gardens in the past, recording both videos and uploading them to his YouTube channel,” the report states.
Prosecutors have charged St. Cyr with two counts of trespassing in an unoccupied structure, a second-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
St. Cyr has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A hearing for the Busch Gardens trespassing case was scheduled to occur in a Tampa courtroom on Tuesday, but St. Cyr was not present when the judge began the proceeding.
An attorney representing St. Cyr asked the judge to postpone the hearing.
“This case is old,” said Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Jack Gutman, who agreed to reset the matter for April 7 even though the case has been delayed several times since prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges in September.
In 2017, St. Cyr was arrested for violating a previously issued trespass warning at Walt Disney World when witnesses claim they saw him leaving a construction site at Disney Springs.
St. Cyr pleaded no contest to that misdemeanor trespassing charge and was issued a $378 fine, court records show.
Last year St. Cyr pleaded no contest to charges that he trespassed at a Titusville power plant. A judge issued him a $495 fine in that case, according to court records.