Did Disney Do Enough to Prevent Alligator Attack?
Disney theme parks have a reputation for being the happiest places on Earth. For kids and adults alike, a trip to Disney World is often the sort of event that becomes a cherished memory. Unfortunately for the family of two-year-old Lane Graves, their vacation at Disney World recently turned tragic when he was fatally attacked by an alligator.
Lane Graves and his family had been staying at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, located close to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The resort features beaches alongside a man-made lagoon, which is where the Graves family was at the time of the attack on June 14, 2016. Although “no swimming” signs were posted by the water, there was nothing explicitly warning of the possibility that alligators may be present. There also weren’t any barriers to prevent people from entering the water. Graves had waded into the water around 9:00 PM, which is when he was grabbed and killed by the alligator. His body was found by searchers the following day.
The Graves family has not yet announced that they would be filing a lawsuit against Disney over the attack, but the incident has people asking if Disney could have done more to prevent the attack.
For Florida residents, alligators are a well-known fact of life. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates there are approximately a million alligators in the state of Florida and many experts believe it’s impossible to completely prevent alligators from entering bodies of water. Many people who live in Florida know to stay away from certain bodies of water, including man-made bodies of water like lakes on golf courses, particularly during peak mating season and feeding times, even if signs aren’t posted.
However, since Orlando, Florida is an incredibly popular tourist destination, drawing millions of visitors every year, people are asking if simple “no swimming” signs were really enough to warn people of the full danger of entering or approaching the water. The attack on Lane Graves happened during alligator mating season and at a time of day when alligators typically come near the shore to feed. While many locals may have known to stay away from the water, many people don’t believe it’s reasonable to assume people from other parts of the country and the world would be aware of that fact.
Many people are also wondering whether or not Disney had done enough to control the alligator population on their properties. Since alligators are so common in Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission routinely works with private citizens and businesses to remove and relocate alligators that pose a threat. A spokesman for the commission told the media that they have worked with Disney in the past to remove alligators from their parks and resorts that could pose a threat to people, pets, and other property. However, the spokesman also said he did not know how often the agency works with Disney and did not know how many alligators live in bodies of water on Disney properties.
With the extremely large alligator population in Florida, fatal alligator attacks are actually very rare occurrences. One person in Florida was killed by an alligator in 2015 and prior to that, the last recorded fatality was in 2007. Walt Disney World has been operating in Florida for nearly 50 years, but this was the first fatal alligator attack to ever occur on one of their properties. However, it was not the first time a visitor has been injured by an alligator on Disney property. In 1986, an eight-year-old boy was bitten by an alligator while he was feeding ducks at Disney’s Fort Wilderness resort.