Disney adds new alligator warning signs and barriers following death of two year old


alligator warning sign
Photo by Kevin Fasick New York Post

Disney contracted workers have been roping off areas and placing new warning signs along the beach in front of the man-made lake by the resort hotel where a 2-year-old died after being snatched by an alligator on Tuesday. The body of Lane Graves, the toddler who was dragged into a lagoon Tuesday evening at the Grand Floridian Resort, was located under six feet of water about 15 yards off the beach where he had been wading near the shore. The autopsy results show the little boy died from drowning and traumatic injuries.

Five alligators have since been removed and euthanized, but Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission officials are unclear if any of them were the boy’s killer.

Walt Disney World has announced new signs will warn visitors about the presence of alligators near the parks beaches and waterways.

Photo by Kevin Fasick New York Post

Jacquee Wahler, a vice president of communications with the company, issued a statement Thursday evening: “We have closed all of our beaches and have made a decision to add signage, and we are also conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols.”



Lane Graves
Lane Graves (Photo courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

The parents of the 2-year-old boy killed by the 4 to 7 foot alligator said they are “devastated” by the attack.

“Words cannot describe the shock and grief our family is experiencing over the loss of our son,” said Matt and Melissa Graves of Elkhorn, Nebraska in a statement on Thursday.

“We are devasted and ask for privacy during this extremely difficult time. To all of the local authorities and staff who worked tirelessly these past 24 hours, we express our deepest Gratitude.”

(Early version of the story on June 15th)

Photo credit: Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel via AP

Florida authorities have found the body they believe to be the 2-year-old boy who was dragged into the water by an alligator near Disney’s upscale Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Tuesday night.

Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies along with members of the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission announced they had located the body at approximately 1:45 this afternoon.


Florida Fish and Wildlife and an Orange County Sheriffs helicopter search for a toddler early Wednesday (Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

The search for the toddler began last night in the water and in the air involving about 50 law enforcement personnel including divers, marine specialists, helicopter units and the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.

The family members, who were visiting Florida from Nebraska, were wading in the water of the Seven Seas Lagoon on Tuesday night when the 4 to 7 foot long alligator came out of the water and grabbed the boy.


Orange County Press Conference
Photo Credit (Christal Hayes/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings held a news conference today (Wednesday) and  says the father of the 2- year-old tried to save the child but was unsuccessful. Demings told the press he didn’t expect to find the child alive after so many hours underwater, but wanted to make sure they located the body to give the family closure.  According to NBC News, the parents are identified as Matt and Melissa Graves from Elkhorn, Nebraska.  The young child’s name was Lane.

Although the beach area where the family was wading had warning signs about swimming, it did not include any signs regarding potential threats from alligators.  Disney personnel quickly closed other beach areas around its resorts to allow rescue operations to continue without other boat traffic which could have impeded search efforts.

Wildlife experts say more than one million alligators currently live in Florida’s waterways. Two of the most dangerous times of the year regarding encounters with alligators are during the breeding season and nesting season.



Alligator by Payne's Prairie
Alligator on La Chua Trail in Payne’s Prairie (photo by Jessie Townsend)

According to statistics maintained by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, out of 383 alligator attacks recorded since 1948, 23 were fatal.  The statistics did not include any attacks recorded since April of 2016.






Alligator on a small wooden dock on the Rainbow River (Photo by Donna Green-Townsend)

In June of 2012 a Gainesville man was attacked by a 9-foot alligator near a homeless campsite in the woods east of South Main Street.  Following that attack Donna Green-Townsend talked with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Karen Parker about ways to avoid such encounters.

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Small alligator in Lochloosa Lake in Alachua County (Photo by Donna Green-Townsend)

During the summer months many visitors to waterways and state parks find themselves in close encounters with gators, often times ending in tragic results. Harry Dutton is the Alligator Management Coordinator for the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Click here to listen to an archive interview Donna Green-Townsend conducted with Dutton about the Do’s and Don’ts when around alligators.


In 2002 the former founder and director of Kanapaha Botantical Gardens in Gainesville, Don Goodman,  had his arm taken off just below his elbow by an 11-foot alligator while working by a waterlily garden at the outdoor park.  Goodman has since written a book about the experience entitled, “Summer of the Dragon.”