The creator of a controversial YouTube channel showcasing videos recorded inside off-limits areas of Florida theme parks has been convicted of trespassing at Busch Gardens.
Matthew St. Cyr, 24, pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge in Hillsborough County last week during a court hearing held via video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A video posted on the channel shows St. Cyr climbing on the track of the Gwazi roller coaster while it was closed for renovations and off-limits to the public. Investigators believe the video was recorded in late 2018.
In exchange for his plea and a criminal conviction being placed on St. Cyr’s record, prosecutors agreed not to seek jail time and dropped a second trespassing charge, which carried a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail.
Circuit Court Judge Jack Gutman adjudicated St. Cyr guilty and ordered him to pay $303 in court costs.
“I know the game going into theme parks when they’re closed and posting them on YouTube,” Gutman told St. Cyr during the hearing. “If you do this stunt again in Hillsborough County, you’ll come back in front of me. And I guarantee you next time this happens it won’t be time served and court costs. Are we clear?”
“Yes sir,” replied St. Cyr, who appeared by video conference seated in a car with a bandana over his face.
St. Cyr’s YouTube channel, which has more than 42,000 subscribers and 3 million video views, includes clips showing people trespassing inside the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and climbing on a closed water slide at Universal Orlando’s Volcano Bay water park.
St. Cyr acknowledged profiting off his theme park videos.
“I make a living out of it,” St. Cyr told News 6 in February. “I’ve got to put food on the table somehow.”
Following News 6′s reporting about the videos earlier this year, YouTube revoked St. Cyr’s ability to earn advertising revenue while two other companies, Patreon and SubscribeStar, blocked him from soliciting online donations from supporters.
St. Cyr later created his own website to collect funds directly from fans of his videos.
St. Cyr did not respond to a voicemail and text message from News 6 seeking comment for this story.
His attorney, Jonah Dickstein, told the judge that St. Cyr is moving on from the conduct that landed him in court.
“I spoke with (St. Cyr) at length last week about his future plans, which will have nothing to do with this and are very promising,” said Dickstein. “The young man is making progress, and I’m confident he won’t be back for any negative purpose with the court.”
“I hope so,” replied Gutman. “Because I won’t tolerate it.”
Two Busch Gardens employees, including the park’s director of security, had received subpoenas to appear at St. Cyr’s trial, which was scheduled to start this week until the case was closed by the defendant’s plea.
“The safety of our employees, guests and animals remains our top priority as we continue to cooperate with our local law enforcement,” said a spokesperson for the theme park’s parent company, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
In a separate case, a different YouTube creator pleaded no contest in October to a charge of trespassing at Walt Disney World.
Richard McGuire was accused of illegally camping on Disney’s Discovery Island during the COVID-19 shutdown in April.
As Orange County sheriff’s deputies swarmed the former zoological theme park, McGuire recorded videos that were later posted on his YouTube channel.
Unlike St. Cyr, a judge did not adjudicate McGuire guilty after he entered a no contest plea, so the Alabama man avoided a criminal conviction on his record.