After the horrific tragedy at the Grand Floridian Hotel, where a young boy was grabbed by an alligator, Disney has now installed new signs that include the cautionary warnings “Alligators and snakes in area,” “Stay away from water,” and “Do not feed the wildlife” at all Disney Resorts. In addition, Disney officials have informed the media that temporary barriers have also been installed to ensure no one steps into the water.
“We are installing signage and temporary barriers at our resort beach locations and are working on permanent, long-term solutions at our beaches. 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.”
These signs are in line with some of the suggestions and concerns made by Disney employees, who for over a year, “expressed anxiety” about Disney guests possibly encountering alligators in the water, as recently reported by the Inquisitr. Disney employees had requested that management build a fence around the lagoon areas to prevent guests from going into the water and encountering alligators. Much of the employee concern had to do with guests at the new adjacent Disney property called the Bora Bora Bungalows, where guests came into closer contact with nature and were frequently seen feeding the alligators.
The wording and the swiftness of the new signs confirm that Disney had a problem with guests feeding alligators and they were well aware of this issue. The speed in which Disney had the signs installed and the lagoons fenced off may further indicate their advanced knowledge of the situation. There has not been any length of time for the company to hold any sort of lengthy investigation. Employees had previously shared their concerns to deaf ears.
These new signs now finally give guests the alligator warnings that other hotel chains had already issued. Prior to this tragedy, there was only a “No swimming” sign at the Grand Floridian. Yet, for the past few years, the neighboring property Hyatt Grand Cypress, which shares the same lagoon as the Grand Floridian, has posted a sign with a more ominous message of “Please be aware of the alligators in the lake.” Sadly, there had to be the horrific death of a child for Disney to also post this important message to their unsuspecting guests.
It should not come as a big surprise that there are alligators, and per the sign, snakes in the water. Vice President of Walt Disney World Resort Jacquee Wahler, spoke to CNN and admitted the company was “working on permanent, long-term solutions at [their] beaches.”
“Nearly one-third of Walt Disney World property is set aside as a conservation area and these areas attract a variety of native wildlife.”
In addition, People reported that in the past few days, there have been Disney employee meetings empowering them to ask guests to get out of the water, and to not feed the alligators. Any guest that does not comply with these rules will be asked to leave the property.
“They are not messing around. They’re taking this really seriously. They’re trying to tell us that each of us is responsible for keeping our guests safe from gator attacks. We can get in a lot of trouble if we don’t report what we see. They kept telling us ‘This is your job. This is your responsibility.’ We aren’t allowed to say that this isn’t up to us.”
The new cautionary signs and policies are the result of the unthinkable that occurred at the Disney Grand Floridian Resort & Spa on Tuesday evening. It was movie night on the beach area of the deluxe Disney hotel. It was around 9:30 p.m. local time. Families were outside roasting marshmallows and relaxing during the beautiful evening. The movie Zootopia was shown. 2-year-old Lane Graves was wading in about a foot of water in the lagoon that was next to the beach area. Suddenly, to the horror of the bystanders and Lane’s parents, an alligator grabbed the child and dragged him under the water. Despite a frantically heroic attempt by his father to release Lane from the jaws of the alligator, he was unable to save his little boy.
By Wednesday morning, Disney reacted to the gator attack by closing all of the resort beaches on their vast properties “out of an abundance of caution.” Less than 17 hours from when the toddler was grabbed by the alligator, divers uncovered the child’s body not far from where he was taken by the gator. On Friday, the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office announced that the toddler died from drowning and traumatic injuries.
The grieving Graves family is now back in Nebraska, and a Go Fund Me page has been set up for the family. Many donors have shared their sympathy with the family, who are likely suffering unbearable grief from this horrific death.
Do you think Disney has done enough to protect guests from alligators?
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]