Amidst all of the excitement of the upcoming summer months, tragedy struck back in June at Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. While visiting the park with his family, 2-year-old Lane Graves was grabbed by an almost 7 foot long alligator and dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon. The boy and his father were playing in less than a foot of water located just outside the popular Grand Floridian Hotel. Hours later, the boy’s body was discovered less than 15 feet from where the alligator had snatched him. An autopsy later proved the cause of death was drowning and traumatic injuries.
This incident came as a major shock to the Walt Disney World community and to the entire country. Every year, an estimated 17.2 million people travel through the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World resort. Ever since the park opened in 1971, it has been a popular destination for families with children of all ages. Therefore, when this 2-year-old boy was drowned by an alligator, millions were disturbed. In response to the heartbreak, Walt Disney World has implemented several changes, both to make the park safer and to demonstrate its sensitivity to the incident. The first step Disney took was to place warning signs along all bodies of water on the park’s property. These signs warn guests to stay away from the water and not to wade in because of the potential presence of alligators. Previous signs around the lagoon had said, “No Swimming” but did not warn of the potential presence of alligators. Search teams also captured and euthanized five alligators found when they were searching for the body of the boy. One of these alligators was the animal that attacked Graves.
Since the incident in June, Disney has also completely eradicated all references and depictions of alligators and crocodiles from its attractions at the Magic Kingdom. There are no long alligators or crocodiles in any shows or parades and a more than 50-year-old warning sign telling parents to watch their children or “the crocodiles will” was removed from the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom. In addition to purging all alligator/crocodile references from the park, Disney is also building a stone wall around the Seven Seas Lagoon where Graves was killed. Immediately following the accident, Disney set up a series of ropes and nets around the water to keep guests away, but now the corporation is making the safety measures much more permanent. The wall will essentially be four to five feet of rocks that will make it nearly impossible for anyone to reach the waters edge. Officials from the park told the Orlando Sentinel that the wall is only part of a new security plan that the park will be executing.
After Lane Graves was killed, many assumed a lawsuit against the resort was the logical next course of action for the family. Surprisingly, the family chose not to file any sort of lawsuit against Disney. The family said in a statement, “In addition the foundation, we will solely be focused on the future health of our family and will not be pursuing a lawsuit against Disney.” The foundation mentioned is a charity the family has set up in their son’s name. Many have commended the family on their decision in an age where it seems lawsuits can result from a stubbed toe.
“Disney Building Stone Wall at Florida Lake Where Alligator Killed Boy.” Claims Journal News. N.p., 11 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
McLaughlin, Eliott C., Steve Almasy, and Catherine E. Shoichet. “Disney Alligator Attack: Resort to Add Warning Signs, Source Says.” CNN. Cale News Network, 16 June 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
Post, Lindsey Bever Washington. “After Alligator Attack, Disney Removes Alligator and Crocodile Characters from Its Parks.” Las Vegas Review-Journal. N.p., 05 July 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.
Riley, Naomi Schaefer. “The Parents Who Didn’t Sue Disney Taught America a Powerful Lesson.” New York Post. N.p., 23 July 2016. Web. 11 Aug. 2016.