Disney World finally posts alligator warnings

Walt Disney World is installing this sign at its resort beach locations.
Walt Disney World is installing this sign at its resort beach locations. Walt Disney World Resorts

Three days after an alligator attacked a toddler and dragged it underwater in a lagoon at the Walt Disney World Resort, the company is putting up fences along its beaches, accompanied by signs indicating alligators and snakes may be in the water, telling guests to stay away and not feed the wildlife.

The beaches have been closed.

“We are installing signage and temporary barriers at our resort beach locations and are working on permanent, long-term solutions at our beaches,” Jacquee Wahler, the resort’s vice president, said in a statement Friday.

“We continue to evaluate processes and procedures for our entire property, and, as part of this, we are reinforcing training with our cast for reporting sightings and interactions with wildlife and are expanding our communication to guests on this topic,” she said.

On Tuesday evening, 2-year-old Lane Graves, who was staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel with his family, was playing at the edge of the water of the Seven Seas Lagoon. Although signs saying “No swimming” were posted, they did not mention the possibility that alligators might be in the water. An alligator grabbed the boy and pulled him underwater. His body was found Wednesday afternoon.

Wildlife experts said the small boy was likely mistaken for prey at a time of night when the reptiles tend to actively feed.

“There are no words to convey the profound sorrow we feel for the family and their unimaginable loss,” George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement. We are devastated and heartbroken by this tragic accident and are doing what we can to help them during this difficult time. On behalf of everyone at Disney, we offer them our deepest sympathy.”

Since the child was killed, reports have been surfacing that Disney knew alligators frequented waters near the resort hotels.

TheWrap, quoting an unidentified source, reported that resort employees had been warning management for more than a year that guests were feeding the alligators. The rooms called the Bora Bora Bungalows, which opened in April 2015 at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, gave guests direct access to wildlife, where they commonly fed the alligators that swam by, the Wrap article said. The Polynesian is adjacent to the Grand Floridian.

Inside Edition posted an undated video of a Disney employee prodding an alligator with a pole, trying to force it back into the pool next to the Splash Mountain ride at Magic Kingdom after it came up on land.