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 8:47 PM
OhioStater's avatar

As a parent of two little ones (not that one has to be a parent to feel this way), I am a bit shocked at how many "parent's responsibility" posts and comments I keep coming across.

It's horrific. It's a form of every parent's absolute worst nightmare. Just let it be.

That's all I can even think to add.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 8:52 PM

Oh I know. Fit punishment? Please. Asses.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 9:16 PM

There are times when you can look at a situation and it's obvious that a child was not being adequately supervised when something bad happens. This is NOT one of those times. They probably shouldn't have been so close to the water as a family but I don't think they realized the danger. I've had close calls with one of my kids at least twice. It happens so quickly and at times when you don't expect it. I swear my kid had a death wish. You don't have to be a crappy parent for bad things to happen to your kid.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 9:33 PM

I usually see a gator every month or two at various places on property, and while I've not personally seen one in Seven Seas Lagoon I know there are a ton in there, as I've heard people in watercraft talk about them all going from the outer shore areas to the middle islands and east shore areas in the morning when the watercraft start running. I also know that guests have fed gators on property, which doesn't help things. I almost always see one or two at Coronado when I'm over there, and there was a small (approx. 3ft) gator in the Rivers of America the last several times I was at the Magic Kingdom.

Original BlueStreak64

Wednesday, June 15, 2016 11:14 PM

This is just absolutely heartbreaking. I'm a native Ohio boy that would have never imagined there would be such wild life on Disney property out of a controlled environment. When I think of Disney, I'm thinking of a very controlled, magical experience where nothing bad can happen to myself or my family. When I first heard of this happening my immediate thought was that the animal escaped from animal kingdom.

Anyone that is quick to blame the parents seem to, in my opinion, have no idea what it's like to have a child, especially one of the toddler age. As a new parent, my one year old just started walking and it's very difficult to keep up with him. He can get out of reach in a split second. I can't even imagine to pain this family is going though.

Disney should have taken preventive measures with posting some type of sign to discourage guests from being in or too close to the water specifically because of wild life. Even rest stops in New Mexico and Arizona alert people of the danger of poisonous snakes in insects in the area, which I would think is common knowledge in the desert.

The Blog

Thursday, June 16, 2016 1:34 AM
kpjb's avatar

Screamlord said:

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.

Disney World has been there for 45 years and this is the first time something like this has happened. Why would a parent assume alligators would be roaming the Grand Floridian?


Thursday, June 16, 2016 2:40 AM
99er's avatar

But that gator wasn't roaming around the Grand Floridian. It was roaming around in a lake, its natural habitat in Florida. That said I really can't get behind the idea that "I didn't think something like this would ever happen at Disney World" is really something people think. Maybe its me but I know no matter where I go, no matter how magical or happy of a place it is, nothing is actually 100% safe, especially if I am not in a controlled environment like a lake. I am not saying the parents were negligent or that the fault is on Disney but just because it is "Disney" does not mean you let your guard down.


Thursday, June 16, 2016 3:23 AM
sws's avatar

I cannot begin to imagine the horror of watching your child killed by a gator right in front of you. Those parents will be dealing with the pain and guilt for the rest of their lives. Anyone blaming the parents should be ashamed.

Cindy and I recently babysat two of her grandchildren - ages 2 and 4. A toddler is a frictionless continuously moving bundle of energy. We were constantly saving him from himself. At that age, they never stop moving, and are constantly exploring. It never stops. They continuously put their lives at risk, and that was within a safe controlled environment. That's what toddlers do. The child was likely only a short distance from the parents. The father wrestled with the gator trying to save his child. This is heart-wrenching.

Sure, everyone knows that a gator can be lurking in any little puddle in Florida. But it is easy to forget that when you're enjoying a magical vacation at Disney with your family.

Now if only somebody had had a gun...
(** Runs and jumps into swamp full of gators to avoid the fall out.**)

Thursday, June 16, 2016 5:48 AM

Kp, anyone with enough knowledge of florida would know that alligators will be around that state and should take caution. From what I understand it was mating season and the gators are more aggressive. Also take into account that it was at night where the gators have better eyesight at low light situations. It's the humans who have encroached on thier territory not the other way around. Just like when you go into the woods, There is always that chance that you are going to get snake bite.

Thursday, June 16, 2016 9:27 AM

There is no reason to blame the parents, who just had their child's life snatched out of their very hands. It's so heartbreaking.

All Disney resorts have water, for beauty. They have inviting beaches that lead right down to the water. There are signs that say "no swimming," not "no wading" or "keep out of the water." One may assume that is because the water just isn't that clean, or they don't want to keep lifeguards there, or swimming in a lake in general is more dangerous than swimming in a pool. To the majority of people that aren't familiar with the area, it wouldn't occur that there might be alligators lurking.

This isn't anything like the Cincinnati incident where the child went over multiple barriers. A witness said this at Disney happened in 30 seconds. They were on a beach. Beaches tend to gravitate people toward the water.

From something I read, there is a problem with guests feeding the alligators. The new bungalows over the water may have given easier access to do that. There are reasons to never feed wildlife.

Last edited by super7*, Thursday, June 16, 2016 9:41 AM
Thursday, June 16, 2016 9:48 AM

Super, I am not blaming the parents but they should have known that Florida has gator and they could be anywhere especially at Disney..

Thursday, June 16, 2016 10:02 AM

I heard from a friend who worked on property that Disney is constantly taking gators off property and relocating them to a naturalistic setting far away. Problem is, gators keep coming back because of the unlimited food source available throughout the property.

Hello, Hello! (hola!) I rode a ride named Vertigo!-with apologies to U2

Thursday, June 16, 2016 10:26 AM

I heard one of the Gator Boys this morning saying that, while the splashing of a child would draw a gator's attention, even if that kid was just out of the water on the beach he would have been in danger. First, if the gators were being fed (not out of the realm of possibility) then they were losing their sensitivity to humans. Second, a gator can leap 10-15 feet out of the water onto the shoreline pretty fast and without warning.

Again, I think the concerted effort to create a welcoming environment for people by putting in a sandy beach along with the knowledge that gators were in that lake leads me to conclude that a sign with a more significant warning other than "no swimming" is in order. Videos are appearing online of kids wading/walking in the water along that beach.

And, I don't think you can reasonably expect a family from Nebraska, let alone foreign tourists...who frequent that hotel intuitively know about the dangers of alligators in Florida. As a result of this incident we are having residents calling us this very moment asking us if we have gators in the lakes and if we are taking steps to fish them out. Yes, we have gators and no...we don't fish them out. Don't like alligators? Then you shouldn't have moved into the Everglades.

From our website:

AlligatorIf you see an alligator, stay calm. They generally have no intentions of bothering you. Feeding, harassing, or killing alligators violate State law, so just leave them alone. If an alligator appears threatening, comes close to your home, or becomes a risk for humans or pets, contact the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 866-392-4286 between 8AM-5PM or 561-357-4200 after hours. Only nuisance alligators can be removed and the FWC will make that determination and contact a licensed trapper. The City of Weston is not permitted to handle an alligator for any reason.

Benefits: Alligators depend on the wetlands, and in many ways the wetlands depend on them as they help control the population of rodents and other animals that might overtax the marshland vegetation.

Thursday, June 16, 2016 10:40 AM

I saw a picture on the news this morning of that sweet child. If there wasn't reason enough this week to cry,...

They also showed signs on the (some) property that said "no swimming". I guess Disney is ramping that up with barriers and stricter, larger warnings in place.

Thursday, June 16, 2016 11:29 AM
slithernoggin's avatar

99er said:

But that gator wasn't roaming around the Grand Floridian. It was roaming around in a lake, its natural habitat in Florida.

First off, that. It's easy to imagine Disney World as a carefully, thoroughly managed environment. And it's not. It's a resort built on a 40-odd square mile piece of property.

Don't get me wrong. My heart, which I keep in a box in the freezer, goes out to the family. It was a horrible horrible loss.


All Disney resorts have water, for beauty.

It's worth remembering that many of the rambling streams and bucolic ponds you see at WDW are actually part of the resort's water reclamation system.

When you're working with 40-odd square miles of property, it's very hard to keep nature -- alligators, squirrels, deer -- from roaming onto and around the property.

Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.
--Fran Lebowitz

Thursday, June 16, 2016 12:01 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Read this elsewhere in response to the incident:

"But a place like that should be able to guarantee the safety."

I think part of the problem with everything today is that people honestly feel this way. No one can guarantee your safety. It's messed up that we expect that. We're soft and lazy. This one lands well within my tolerance for reasonable expectations of safety.

(I'm squarely in the unpreventable freak accident camp on this one, but I welcomed the opportunity to get on my soapbox)

Thursday, June 16, 2016 12:35 PM

Shouldn't there be a ban on alligators?

Thursday, June 16, 2016 1:17 PM
99er's avatar

wahoo skipper said:

And, I don't think you can reasonably expect a family from Nebraska, let alone foreign tourists...who frequent that hotel intuitively know about the dangers of alligators in Florida.

I've been hearing a lot of people say this and I have to disagree. Maybe I have a higher level of common sense when I travel but I am always aware of what type of wildlife could be a potential danger to me and I am by no means a wildlife type of person. I went hiking in Alaska and Colorado last year and I didn't need a sign, fence, or an adult to tell me that I was in bear country. I climbed Mt. St. Helens a couple years ago and I was aware before I even got there that I could run into cougars. And it isn't any different to me than when I visit a beach, even if its resort like Disney, that there is more than likely sharks just off shore in the waters. Whether its Disney, The Four Seasons, or The Hilton Grand Resort, alligators are all over Florida and I personally don't understand how you can travel to Florida and not know that.

EDIT: Now that I have read my post again I just thought of something. Had a shark attack happened at Disney's Vero Beach Resort or Aulani in Hawaii would people be shocked that something like that could happen at a Disney resort? I don't view this incident as any different that something like that.

Last edited by 99er, Thursday, June 16, 2016 1:23 PM


Thursday, June 16, 2016 1:26 PM

I'm not sure how you can really put the expectation of wildlife danger on a mountain hike on the same level as when you visit a resort in a (relatively) urban area. If it's at the front of your mind when you visit Disney, I would say you're the exception, not the rule. That being said, I still don't think there's anyone to blame here. Stuff happens. I don't think you can reasonably say that they parents should have been aware any more than you can say that Disney had a responsibility to plant a more thorough warning sign on the hundreds of accessible bodies of water on their property. How many thousands (maybe millions) of people have done the same thing as this family over the last 44 years without incident?

Thursday, June 16, 2016 1:33 PM

Even if a family thought about gators with respect to Florida (and I am not sure where I would put the over/under in terms of people visiting Florida who have that knowledge but I suspect its lower than many people would guess), I think it would be pretty common not to have that thought in the front of your mind 24/7 during your visit to Disney (or any other Florida resort in Orlando). Very easy to let your guard down or let the idea move to the back of your mind (to extent of being out of your thoughts).


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