Disney and Alligators

@moffittjc (45199)
Gainesville, Florida
June 17, 2016 7:12am CST
I was quite surprised, and quite saddened by the news of the death of the little 2-year old boy from Nebraska at Disney World this week, who was tragically drowned by an alligator in the Seven Seas Lagoon in front of the Magic Kingdom. Saddened because a little boy on vacation with his family to the most magical place on earth had to die. Surprised, because I would have thought Disney would have been more proactive about keeping alligators out of their bodies of water. Especially since many of their resorts have "beaches" along the lakefronts. As a Floridian, I am well aware that if there is a body of water anywhere in our state, it has alligators in it. That's just how it is in our state, and every native Floridian is aware of that. But visitors from out of state would have no idea, especially when visiting a theme park. Shame on Disney for 1) not putting up alligator warning signs; and 2) not actively patrolling and removing gators that get into their waterways. Decades ago, Disney used to stage an elaborate water ski show in their Seven Seas Lagoon. They discontinued the shows when one of their skiers had a close and frightening encounter with a gator. So Disney knew there was a threat of gators in their lakes. Recent estimates suggest that there are over 1.3 million alligators in Florida alone. That is quite a lot, considering just as recent as the 1980's the reptiles were on the endangered species list. A word to the wise of any visitors to the state of Florida: if you encounter any body of water in our state, then you should automatically assume there is an alligator in it, and proceed with caution. Yes, even at theme parks. And believe it or not, gators are commonly found in swimming pools as well, and occasionally at beaches along our oceans. Always proceed with caution! My heart goes out to the family of the toddler killed at Disney World. No family should ever have to see their child tragically end their life that way.
18 people like this
15 responses
@PainsOnSlate (20508)
• Canada
17 Jun 16
My heart goes out to the family too. It should have had warnings if not fences. On the news last night another family sent a photo of their child standing in the same spot just a week ago...When i was a kid we stopped for gas in Florida and we noticed a family sitting on a huge gator getting their photos taken. My dad saw the eye of the gator moving and warned the family to move quietly off that live alligator. I was terrified and hid my head, but dad say they didn''t believe him and stayed for more photos as we left...
3 people like this
• United States
17 Jun 16
Wow, that is just pure lunacy! Some people just don't realize how dangerous an encounter with an alligator can be.
3 people like this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
17 Jun 16
Because alligators like to lay out and sun most of the day, people get the false impression that they are slow and lazy. Don't let them full you...they are lethal killing machines who have survived millions of years of evolution. They can turn on you faster than you can blink your eye! Oh, and they also can climb fences and walls with ease, so even those barriers don't really stop the gators from getting to where they want to go.
2 people like this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
17 Jun 16
@ElusiveButterfly I would never sit on a live alligator, unless it's mouth was taped shut. But even then I'd be cautious, because their tails are lethal killing machines as well. One swat at you with its tail and you could be a goner...their tail is all muscle and therefore very powerful (which is why gator tail tastes so good!).
1 person likes this
@Asylum (48224)
• Manchester, England
17 Jun 16
If I had visited Disney in Florida prior to reading this I would have assumed absolute safety and security. Of course now I would probably thoroughly check my coffee before risking a drink from it.
3 people like this
@Asylum (48224)
• Manchester, England
17 Jun 16
@moffittjc It seems a little extreme to sue Disney because of the grandparent having a heart attack.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
18 Jun 16
@Asylum That's exactly when the family tried to do! I don't think they stood a chance in court. Disney has some very powerful lawyers, plus that would have been a hard case to prove negligence on Disney's part anyway. Not sure how it turned out, as I haven't really followed it all that closely. Knowing Disney, they probably offered the family a cash settlement to quietly drop the lawsuit and go away. Disney has a "friendly" and "family-oriented" reputation to uphold, so they don't want the public to see them constantly in court fighting lawsuits.
1 person likes this
@Asylum (48224)
• Manchester, England
18 Jun 16
@moffittjc I hope that Disney make the danger clear to all visitors now because otherwise the risk is that many people could potentially have the same problem.
1 person likes this
• United States
17 Jun 16
I couldn't imagine the pain and suffering that family is going through over this tragic event. I get so emotional over this. Disney should have posted warning signs. The only signs posted was that swimming was prohibited. People assume that being in a theme park is safe and without worry. They should be safe.
2 people like this
• United States
17 Jun 16
@moffittjc I was relieved that they did find the child's body and that the alligator did not eat the poor little thing. That would have been a nightmare. Even so, it breaks my heart that it happened at all.
2 people like this
@Macarrosel (7541)
• Philippines
17 Jun 16
I was sad when I heard the news. I hope the family of the boy are fine despite what happened.
2 people like this
@just4him (126889)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
17 Jun 16
I didn't know that about the lakes and beaches in Florida. I thought the alligators were in certain locations, not all over. It is sad and tragic that the little boy was killed that way. My heart goes out to the family. I agree, Disney should have warning signs up.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
17 Jun 16
Gators have even been spotted venturing out onto beaches and swimming in the ocean. Pretty much if there is a body of water--no matter how big or small--you have to assume there can be gator in it or near by! And surprisingly, they can climb very well, so fences and walls are no match for them, so it's always best to be on the lookout for them anytime you are near water.
1 person likes this
@just4him (126889)
• Green Bay, Wisconsin
17 Jun 16
@moffittjc Now that does surprise me. I didn't know they could climb. Is that for any species of alligator?
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
18 Jun 16
@just4him As far as a I know, it applies to all species of alligators. Their tails are the most powerful and muscular parts of their bodies (aside from their powerful jaws), so they can use their claws on their hands and feet, and the powerful force of their tails, to help them climb over things. I once witnessed a small 4-foot alligator climb a 6-ft fence in my neighborhood to get to the small retention pond on the other side. He climbed that fence like it wasn't even there!
1 person likes this
@topffer (36027)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
17 Jun 16
It is a very good article about this tragic event. I also think that Disney should have put prominent warning signs, because Disney World is visited by people coming from all parts of the world. To have lived near a zoo when I was a kid and to have seen several times the crocodiles fed by the staff, I will never swim in your waters.
1 person likes this
@topffer (36027)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
17 Jun 16
@moffittjc Better late than never... It is very sad for the family of this toddler.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
18 Jun 16
@topffer What is common knowledge to most Floridians, and to Disney employees as well, is not well-known to those outside of Florida, and that is that there are alligators in just about every body of water. Disney officials probably assumed (incorrectly) that everyone knew this. So, yes, the alligator warning signs are better late than never.
1 person likes this
@topffer (36027)
• Svalbard And Jan Mayen
18 Jun 16
@moffittjc Your place is full of danger : we have colonies of Florida turtles in our rivers here since 2 or 3 decades, and they bite and are eating our fishes. People bought them for aquariums when they were available to sell and put them in the rivers when they were starting to become too big for aquariums. We have had also an alligator or two, but apparently the waters are too cold for them to settle.
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (62791)
• Los Angeles, California
17 Jun 16
Disney is grievously at fault. What are they thinking having water to begin with? And it should have been chained off. I visited the south from the Texas bayou to the Everglades last year and didn't see any gators but tread carefully around any water.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
17 Jun 16
How in the world did you make it through the Everglades without seeing any gators? There's literally millions of them, and they are everywhere! lol
@JohnRoberts (62791)
• Los Angeles, California
17 Jun 16
@moffittjc I did not take any of the tours going into the marshland interior of the national park.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
18 Jun 16
@JohnRoberts It's a good think you didn't venture into the interior, because that's where they man-eating pythons live! lol You may not have seen any alligators in your visit to Florida, but you were probably surrounded by hundreds of them at any given time! They were just hiding and lurking and just waiting for you to venture off the beaten path so they could eat you.
@amadeo (72890)
• United States
17 Jun 16
yes,very sad there.Was the parent aware of this.Were there near by.Were they watching him.Just saying For me.My son little hand will be clasp to mine.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
17 Jun 16
Not sure where exactly the parents were, but they were nearby. Disney was having a family movie night on the beach at the lake, so maybe the family members were distracted watching the movie. I don't want to place any blame without knowing the full details, but regardless, that family has been traumatized for the rest of their life. They need our love and support, and not blame at a time like this. But, I do agree that many times parents don't watch their children as closely as they should. I see it every day at the swimming pools I manage.
@amadeo (72890)
• United States
17 Jun 16
@moffittjc thank you for sharing this.
1 person likes this
@VivaLaDani13 (22017)
• Perth, Australia
7 Aug 16
@moffittjc Aw man this was absolutely terrible news! I try not to think about it ( not saying that in a bad way ) but I just start to feel anxious thinking about what it would be like to be in those parents shoes. My heart goes out to the family.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
7 Aug 16
Yeah, as a parent who has taken my kids to Disney many times, I definitely felt the heartbreak and sorrow those parents must have went through. Interestingly, there was an article a few days ago where the family announced that they were not going to sue Disney over the incident. They said no amount of money in the world could bring their child back, and they didn't want to go through the agony of having to re-live the incident in the court system. Knowing Disney though, they probably offered the family a sizable financial settlement over the whole ordeal.
1 person likes this
@JESSY3236 (7263)
• United States
21 Jun 16
When I saw the news about the kid, I automatically thought of you. I was wondering what you had to say about it. Have you encounter any on your visits to Disney? I haven't seen any real ones when me and Chris went a few years ago.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
21 Jun 16
As often as I go to Disney, I have to admit I've never once seen an alligator, snake, or other dangerous animal before. I've seen plenty of deer, but never anything dangerous.
1 person likes this
@marsha32 (6689)
• United States
19 Jun 16
I would maybe think they would have public swimming areas somehow fenced in from the bottom so the gators can't in, but what do I know.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
19 Jun 16
There's no swimming allowed in the lakes and waterways at Disney. And even if there was, people would be stupid to swim in that dirty water! They have "beaches" at all their resorts along the lake fronts, but there are signs posted everywhere saying no swimming is allowed. But obviously two year olds aren't going to be able to read those signs! From what I understand, the toddler was not even in the water, but standing just by the shoreline, and the gator popped up out of the water from nowhere and snatched the kid. Gators are very stealthy when they are hunting food.
@Corbin5 (115634)
• United States
17 Jun 16
Horrific. I would not have known that alligators could possibly grab a human in a resort area in Florida. The setting looked safe as could be. No way could every Americans or every visitor from other countries know every single danger that exists in a vacation spot. It is the responsibility of the venue to keep its visitors safe from harm when the owners of that venue know that harm exists.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
18 Jun 16
I agree. It is up to the venue to make sure its guests are aware of any dangers lurking on their property. Hopefully, Disney will learn its lesson here. Unfortunately, it took the loss of a toddler's life in order for Disney to learn that lesson.
1 person likes this
@Marcyaz (35606)
• United States
17 Jun 16
That is a tradegy to have a family on vacation at Disney and the little boy is killed by a alligator. RIP My heart goes out to the family on this very sad day.
1 person likes this
@LoriAMoore (4659)
• United States
17 Jun 16
Very sad situation but gators have been run out of their habitat and will gravitate toward any water, like you said.
1 person likes this
@moffittjc (45199)
• Gainesville, Florida
17 Jun 16
That's the thing we often forget. The gators were here first. We've invaded their territory. Gators know how to do two things very well...eat and survive. So, we've got to watch out for them everywhere we go in Florida. Native and long-time Floridians know this, but unfortunately the 100 million plus tourists that visit our state every year don't have a clue.
@springs (926)
• India
17 Jun 16
It's very heart touching,Disney should have warned the visitor about the alligators. A two year old kid who doesn't know anything about it. It not good for such a big theme park in the world.
1 person likes this