Disney resorts installing signs warning of alligators, snakes
Three days after an alligator dragged a 2-year-old boy to his death in a lagoon at a Walt Disney World resort, the company’s facilities are installing warning signs and temporary barriers at their beaches.
The company also is “working on permanent, long-term solutions at our beaches,” Jacquee Wahler, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort, said Friday.
The signs being installed contain four sets of messages: “Danger,” “Alligators and snakes in area,” “Stay away from the water,” and “Do not feed the wildlife.”
Before Friday, “No Swimming” signs were dotted around the lagoon, but there were no posted warnings specifically about alligators.
The company’s actions follow the death of Lane Graves, a Nebraska boy who waded into a lagoon near Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa southwest of Orlando on Tuesday.
As the toddler stood in about a foot of water, an alligator grabbed him and dragged him underwater.
His horrified parents — along with bystanders — dove after the toddler, according to witnesses.
But it was too late.
A dive team found the toddler’s body Wednesday, intact, in 6 feet of murky water about 10 to 15 yards from where he was snatched.
Graves died from drowning and traumatic injuries, the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
By midmorning Wednesday, Disney closed all beaches in its resort area “out of an abundance of caution” after the attack, a Disney representative said.
On Saturday, Lane’s parents, Matt and Melissa Graves, released a statement saying they weren’t ready to speak publicly about their son’s death.
“Melissa and I continue to deal with the loss of our beloved boy, Lane, and are overwhelmed with the support and love we have received from family and friends in our community as well as from around the country,” Matt Graves said in the statement. “We understand the public’s interest, but as we move forward this weekend, we ask for and appreciate the privacy we need to lay our son to rest.”
In Florida, a state with an estimated 1.3 million alligators, sightings are common but attacks are rare.
In 2015 there were nine major unprovoked attacks in Florida, with one fatality.
Officials said Disney World has never experienced an incident like the one involving the boy.
Disney personnel have searched for alligators on the resort’s grounds in the days since Lane’s death. So far, search teams have captured and euthanized at least five alligators caught as searchers scoured the water for the boy, officials said.
The alligator responsible for the child’s death might be among those euthanized, but authorities said they can’t be sure.
“We have a large property, and from time to time, we have to remove alligators from our property,” Wahler said. “Nearly one-third of Walt Disney World property is set aside as a conservation area and these areas attract a variety of native wildlife.”
While announcing the new signage and barriers, Wahler also said the company will be encouraging its staff and guests to stay vigilant.
“We are reinforcing training with our (staff) for reporting sightings and interactions with wildlife and are expanding our communication to guests on this topic,” he said.