Toddler dragged into water at Disney's Grand Floridian, feared dead

Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2016 10:29 AM | Contributed by gamerguy

A 2-year-old boy who was attacked and dragged into the water by an alligator on the shores of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Tuesday night was still missing early Wednesday morning. Deputies are in the water and air, calling it a search-and-rescue operation.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016 11:15 AM
matt.'s avatar

Nothing thoughtful or useful to add here, but wow, talk about freak incidents of all freak incidents.

I just spent two nights next door a the Polynesian and reading the details of what happened is just....beyond surreal.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 11:41 AM

We stayed at Grand and our room faced the monorail near the marina and a utility water corridor. From the balcony I'd look at the water and imagine it was live as hell, probably teeming. And that's what you'll have in Florida if you're near any kind of water. Don't leave your kids out or your dog in the yard.

This is just horrific. How many tragic stories can Orlando bear?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 12:15 PM
Jeff's avatar

As you probably know, there are retention ponds everywhere and in every neighborhood, because when it rains wrath-of-god style as it does, the water has to go somewhere. We have those all over our neighborhood, and they do on occasion have gators. Generally they're under four feet long, and they usually aren't interested in what you're doing at all. To the point of the article, it's pretty unusual for them to mess with humans. Freak accident indeed. I can't imagine what the family is going through.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016 12:17 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar

Either way, there are "no swimming" signs, and a little rock/plant barrier between he beach sand and the water on every one of their properties for a reason.

Besides, if I wasn't scared of gators in that lake, I'd be terrified of the pollution. Or an amoeba.

Or Maverick.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016 1:10 PM
Jeff's avatar

The water is pretty gross in there. I haven't been to the Grand in a few years, and I don't remember the waterfront. At the Poly, you can certainly walk up to the water on their little beach, and it's not unusual to see people there with bare feet in the water.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016 1:37 PM

Yeah, I agree, this is a very sad situation for the family, as I can't imagine the horror of seeing your two-year old child being dragged away by an alligator. As a Nebraskan myself, I am going to be perfectly honest in saying that it wouldn't immediately occur to me that there may be alligators in the lake in front of that resort. I know it's front of mind for all you Floridians, but it probably didn't occur to the family that the danger existed.

Sad times all around for Orlando right now.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016 2:53 PM

The above point is a good one. Nobody wants to scare their guests with beware of alligator signs but considering that Disney probably draws more guests from outside Florida than in they won't be up on the alligator thing. Not being from Florida I know gators are numerous and in some areas by the water they go after peoples' pets but I can honestly say I would never have imagined people would come in contact with them at a Disney resort.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 3:08 PM
birdhombre's avatar

Is this the beach in question? It looks like there's a no-swimming sign, and indeed the water looks like the kind I wouldn't want to step in, but the beach does lead right into the lake in some areas.

Demings said the child's dad dove into the water and tried to pry the kid from the gator, but was unsuccessful.

That's the most haunting part to me. I can't even imagine.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 3:10 PM
rollergator's avatar

Most human activity involves people large enough so that a regular gator would never think of them as prey. A 2-year-old is probably at the limit of what a gator would attack (defending a nest is another question entirely).

As for the microscopic stuff that's present in the nice warm FL water...yeah, not swimming in that.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016 4:16 PM
ApolloAndy's avatar

My God. As a parent of a 2 y.o., a 4 y.o., and a 6 y.o. who loves the hell out of Disney, this is really scary. I know it's completely a freak accident and incredibly unlikely to happen again, but I just can't imagine what that must be like or how you go on. Prayers for the family and the search team.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016 4:27 PM

Big Disney fan, past cast member, etc. I'm not a litigious person but as a Park Director I'm always looking at liability risks. I will state that I've never seen a gator in the Seven Seas Lagoon though I'm not surprised they are in there. I've seen them in other areas of Disney property and all of those bodies of water are interconnected for drainage purposes.

I think Disney sends mixed messages by having a sandy beach in front of these properties. A manicured beach is inviting someone to get close to the water. Even if they weren't swimming in the water a guest walking close by is at risk of an aggressive gator. A "No Swimming" sign is a step in the right direction...but a "Warning - Alligators May Be Present" sign may command more attention...particularly to someone not familiar with Florida nature.

I have parks adjacent to water bodies in my City. A number of years ago I had Warning Signs specifically for alligators installed in those parks. We debated internally whether or not to do that as they do send off a certain negative vibe...but I won the argument stating that I would rather someone complain about a sign than be answering questions about a death.

As a result of this tragedy there is no doubt in my mind that Disney will be installing new signs immediately. I also would not be surprised if we see a seawall go up in areas where guests would have easy access to the water's edge.

This is just so sad. I can't imagine the grief of the parents and I even feel for the Disney cast members who were on scene and those who are having contact with the family. I had to deal with the aftermath of a couple of deaths that took place at Cedar Point (both the result of natural causes...but both extremely sad in any event) and it is an extremely dark time for all involved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 4:36 PM
LostKause's avatar

I see right now on TV that CNN is reporting that the toddler's body was found. They are looking to see now if they already have the gator who snatched the boy, and if not, they will continue searching until they do. The family was from Nebraska.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 5:13 PM

To the point several posts above, a friend texted me today and asked "Does Disney know they have gators on the property?" I wasn't quite sure what to say. This guy once lived in Florida, too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 5:59 PM
john peck's avatar

As a kid, when ever visiting Disney, i was always scared of gators. I even swam in that lagoon when I was staying at the Polynesian.

A comment was made on a facebook post that alligators normally stay near the shores in the dark and wait for prey, which is true. Sadly, wrong time, wrong place. It's just heartbreaking.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 6:41 PM

People who go to disney or florida should have known that it was alligator country. I am sorry for this kid's death but somewhere it has to fall on the parent's responsibility to know that in Florida alligators are going to be there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 8:16 PM

^I don't agree. I think they were enjoying their Disney vacation,(feeling safe,) and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I agree with the above comments that they probably weren't thinking about the presence of a predator in the area. Feel sorry for the family. That's terrible!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 8:25 PM
Rick_UK's avatar

If I went there, it wouldn't even cross my mind that there could/would be 'gators knocking around.

I guess it's a risk in part because there's a whole lot of water at the resort. What's a potential solution, rid the waters of gators and make it so it's impossible for 'stuff' to enter from the outside? Perhaps a naive suggestion from a naive Brit.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 8:28 PM
LostKause's avatar

I read somewhere today that there has only been 28 human deaths in the United States within the last 60 years linked to alligator attacks. It's a pretty rare occurrence.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 8:30 PM
Jeff's avatar

I can't say I've ever seen a gator in any body of water at Disney. That said, the desire to blame Disney strikes me as a little strange. Keeping gators out of water in Florida is like expecting to never see a deer on the road (also an issue around the property in the winter).

But yeah, Travis is right that the odds are so tiny that I don't know how you consider this anything other than a freak, and tragic, accident.

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