Walt Disney World has reopened its beaches, following the June 14 alligator attack on 2-year-old Lane Graves that ultimately led to the toddler’s death. Sources inside Disney World have confirmed that signs warning visitors of alligators are now firmly in place around all of Disney’s beaches, lakes, and lagoons, and state officials have announced that they believe the gator responsible for the attack has been caught.
— People Magazine (@people) June 23, 2016
The reopened beaches and addition of warning signs come more than a week after an alligator snatched 2-year-old Graves shortly after 9 p.m. while he waded in shallow water at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. New hours for swimming have also been put in place, reports People, according a statement released by Walt Disney World.
“Resort beaches are now available to guests one hour after sunrise until one hour prior to sunset. These areas now include signage and temporary barriers to further promote safety at our resort and we continue to work on permanent, long-term solutions. Cast Members will staff the beaches to assist guests.”
In addition to the new swimming hours, a source who works for Disney World spoke to People and said that all Disney workers are being told to keep an eye on visitors at Disney’s parks, and to remind them that there is absolutely no swimming in the park’s lakes.
“We’re being told that it’s our job to make sure that no one goes into the lakes, no matter what our job description is.”
Temporary barriers are being put into place around Disney’s lakes and lagoons, where gators are prone to swim, another source told CNN, while they “work on permanent, long-term solutions.” On Tuesday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced that though following the attack on Graves, officials were hunting alligators in an attempt to find the one responsible, they have ceased all attempts at trapping gators in Disney waters, as they firmly believe they have already caught “and removed” the offending alligator.
The commission spent the week following the toddler’s death trapping alligators according to proximity to the attack, and witness descriptions, in the hopes of finding the one that killed the young boy at the newly reopened Disney beach. Though DNA evidence was non-conclusive — Graves’ wounds tested negative for animal DNA, so a comparison was impossible — witness descriptions led to the trapping and removal of two alligators, both of whom were capable of inflicting the wounds Graves suffered, as well as another four that have been humanely removed. Disney World also confirmed in their statement that monitoring of the park’s waters has not found any other alligators large enough to inflict wounds like those sustained by the young boy.
“Round-the-clock monitoring and trapping efforts have not produced alligators of the size capable of the attack since June 16.”
These six were not the first gators removed from Disney World waters because of the potential threat they posed. According to a report obtained by CNN, Disney World park officials have trapped and removed a total of 243 alligators between May 2009 and May 2016.
— Eliott C. McLaughlin (@EliottCNN) June 15, 2016
As the debate rages on whether Disney World could have done more by way of warning signs to keep visitors safe, CNN reports that many signs on Disney property asked visitors not to swim, or not to feed the wildlife, but few to none mentioned the dangers of alligators. Other nearby resorts, like the Shades of Green resort, a U.S. Military vacation center just a 10-minute walk to the Grand Floridian, however, has signs posted on even the smallest of ponds of their golf course, warning of the presence of alligators.
As Disney World reopened their beaches following the tragic death of 2-year-old Lane Graves, one has to hope that the new signs, ramped up security posted near waterways, and imposed swimming curfews will help keep park visitors safe from the potential danger of hungry alligators lurking in their waters.
[AP Photo/Lynne Sladky]