UPDATE: Latest On Continuing Search Effort in Gator Incident at Disney World

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The search continues by water and air over the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake at the Walt Disney World Resort as officials continue to look for a 2-year-old boy who was dragged away by a alligator roughly between 4 and 7 feet long.

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Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings stated that the Nebraska family of five was relaxing on the shoreline when the alligator attacked the boy. The father of the boy entered the water and tried to pry the child away from the gator, but was unsuccessful. He had minor scratches on his hands following the encounter.

The parents of the boy then ran to the nearby quiet pool at the resort and alerted a lifeguard of the situation. There are no lifeguards on the beaches as there are a multitude of signs warning guests not to go swimming in the Seven Seas Lagoon. Whether or not the child was in the water when he was attacked is still unclear at this time.

Vice President of Walt Disney World Resort Jacquee Wahler made the following statement:

“Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family,” he said. “We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement.”

 

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

26 Comments

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  • I’m on Disney’s side, there are TONS of signs saying not to swim in that lagoon it’s just unfathomable that something like this could be allowed to happen

    • There are in fact signed not to swim. I’m not sure how seriously people that those warnings. I have seen people wading in the lake a bunch of times…wading isn’t swimming is it? I just think some people choose to ignore warnings or stretch the warnings to the limits.

  • Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and with the Disney cast members . It’s been a horrific week for Orlando. You Are all in our thoughts

  • Obviously most of us here are frequent Disney goers – I’ve been going regularly since I was a toddler myself. When I was little my parents never let me go near that water, especially with all the signs that stay to keep away from it. No, the signs don’t specifically warn of gators, but telling you not to go in should be enough. regardless I’m still devastated for these parents – such a horrible situation. God help them.

  • Thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Seriously though, don’t go near the water. I do know how much clearer Disney can make that.

    • How much clearer? Easy – instead of “No Swimming” the signs should say “No swimming or wading. Alligators live in this lagoon.”

  • It’s designed as a beach!!!! Give a family a bit of water and they are going to play near the water. Guest want to stay at the Grand Floridian because it’s on the lagoon. Epic fail. The whole situation is a travesty. Close that “beach”

    • There are signs EVERYWHERE to keep you out of the water clearly explaining that this is not that kind of beach. So any time any family is near dirty brackish water they have to go in it? Also, don’t think they are staying at the grand floridian because of that beach, if thats the case save the money and stay at caribbean beach. This is a terrible thing but can’t help but think it could have been avoided if guests followed the rules. Disney can not protect you from yourself.

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s not just gators in the 7sl that requires people to not be in it: boats are going around all the time and there are very deep parts of it in different areas.

  • Nina’s right…in fact, close the whole resort! This wouldn’t happen if there were better gator-control measures in place making it harder for people to get gators!

  • The reason to not wade in the water has often been attributed to the bacteria in the water that can make you sick. Obviously, it’s Florida. It’s a swamp. There’s going to be gators around. However, the beach-like appearance gives a false sense of security. I’ve sat on the Poly beach with my child at night watching the fireworks. It’s a body of water-there are risks–but never once did I think that a gator could emerge and drag her into the water. Being in a well-themed Disney bubble, it’s easy to forget you are not actually at the shore.

  • This was a horrible accident that could have happened even if there were a thousand signs on that beach. Disney and the wildlife authorities could try to catch and remove every alligator and they would fail, because WDW is built in a swamp. Gators will always be there no matter what they do. “Well they could have done more…”
    For pity’s sake, stop throwing around the blame, it accomplishes nothing in this situation.

    When Disney starts banning guests from the “beaches”, people will whine and complain about that too. We Disneyphiles are just insufferable sometimes.

    Just express your concern for the suffering family and move on. Honestly…

    • This is so true. I think the one time they’ve seriously tried to relocate mass amounts of alligators was when they were constructing 7sl and bay lake. It darn near impossible especially in Florida where they outnumber people.

  • This is an awful tragedy but when do the parents take responsibility for there children? The signs are clearly marked on the beach. Everyone thinks I’m at Disney World and I no longer have to worry about anything, what could possibly go wrong I’m at Disney World?

  • People’s takes on this matter are seriously laughable. A child is gone after a freak occurrence and all people want to do is try to place blame whether it be on Disney, the gator, the parents, etc. This is Florida where if there is a body of fresh water or swamps, then there is a good chance gators are around. Sadly again, this is a tragedy but by no means an everyday occurrence.

  • My heart aches for this family. Our family visits Disney World / Grand Floridian several times a year. My prayers are that everyone that steps foot on these grounds will speak positive affirmation over this family every time they reflect on this tragedy. This would rock the foundation of any family.
    Our prayers are that this couple has a strong Biblical foundation, with God & The Holy Spirit they will be able to lean on each other and come out more united on the other side of this tragedy. May God Bless you, Comfort you and give you Peace that only comes from knowing Him.
    Paul and Michele Grignot
    Panama City, FL

  • I am a big WDW fan and have been going since the time they opened.

    I stayed in Sept. at the Beach club and was alarmed that there was a gator in the water in front of the Vacation Club section not on the beach side.

    I was told many years ago that the policy was to relocate the gators and was dismayed when I saw this one at the beach club resort. Especially when they are by the resort areas. Just too dangerous they do walk around on land also.

    The No swim signs should indicate the alligator danger especially since many visitors do not live in states or countries where this is a problem.

    Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and WDW.

  • There are no sides. A child is lost. A family destroyed and another tragedy has happened. Humanity and empathy for everyone involved.

  • Swimming is very different than being down by water on a piece of land that is designed to look and feel like a beach. I worked at The Beach Club years ago and never once ever thought that by dipping my feet in or sitting on the small bit of land that looks and feels like a beach I’d be putting myself or anyone else at risk. Blaming anyone here is futile. This family is already going to be playing this over and over in their heads for the rest of forever, wondering why they had to be right there right then. It’s the nature of accidents — everything is fine until it isn’t. Think of how many people have had the exact same kind of night – playing by that exact same water – without anything going awry. May that poor baby rest in peace. This is an absolute tragedy and we can just let it be that — we don’t have to point fingers.

  • I’m sorry but all warning signs aside, Disney INVITES people to use their beaches! There are chairs, volleyball nets and Disney shows movies on those beaches! So, if you invite people to enjoy the beaches it only stands to reason people are going to walk near or into that water from time to time. Especially children. I know it’s Florida. I know gators are everywhere there but I think Disney should drag those lakes for gators on a regular basis. That company makes enough money to have people dedicated to nothing but making sure guests are safe from being attacked by gators. I know they get plenty of my money. Shame on Disney. You know you have gators. Don’t invite unsuspecting guests right next to their habitat.

    • And if dragging the lakes is not foolproof, which I suspect it is not, at least warn people of the possible presence of gators. We have walked on that beach many times and never once suspected that there was any dangers to dipping toes in the water. Swimming and wading are not the same things at all. Disney dropped the ball big time on this one.

  • Not blaming, just praying. I do know that my friends in Florida think about water differently than my friends in the Midwest. And for me, there is a world of difference between a sign that says “no swimming” and one that says “gators in water.” I won’t be building sand castles at the Fort Wilderness beach anymore.

  • No swimming not withstanding — because they may not have been swimming — it is clear to me that there should have been many prominent signs specifically warning of the alligator danger. Folks from Florida are very aware of the situation, but not necessarily the case for tourists from outside of the area — especially those from up North, and Disney has an obligation to protect them by providing the necessary information. Further, a beach without these specific warnings is probably nothing less than an “attractive nuisance” for which Disney Resorts is clearly liable. Face it, it is a trap for unsuspecting tourists. But that is not their fault. They pay a lot of money to be in the “happiest place on earth” and have a right to feel safe. My guess is that the issue has actually been discussed by Disney management, and a decision was made NOT to put up such signs because it might spoil the atmosphere, and have a negative commercial impact. We have certainly seen that kind of corporate behavior before. Bottom line interests before people’s welfare …

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