After the story about the 2 year old boy who was dragged in the Seven Seas Lagoon Tuesday evening, Disney internet message boards have been lit up with heated debate about who’s at fault for the death of the boy…The Parents or Disney?
That’s a very complicated question. Here’s what I do know: The boy shouldn’t have been in the water. Someone needed to do a better job of that. Let’s take a look at some of the facts surrounding the issue to see who could have done what…
Alligators are everywhere in Florida:
According to the Orlando Sentinel there are approximately 1.3 million alligators in the state of Florida, with some biologists thinking that number is a bit closer to 2 million! That’s a lot of alligators!! And it just so happens that Disney World is smack dab in the middle of Florida, built basically in a huge swamp. Many local Florida residents can attest to finding them all over the place, even in people’s private swimming pools.
That said, Alligator attacks in Florida aren’t super common, and deaths are even less common. Going back to 1948 since the statistics have been kept, the highest number of deaths in a single year was 3. And in 2015 there was the first fatality since 2007, so a good distance of time.
This is the second known Alligator Attack on Disney property, the first in 30 years. In 1986 an 8 year old boy was camping with his family at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground. The boy strayed from the group to go to a small pond and watch the ducks when a 7 foot alligator grabbed him. The boy’s siblings rescued him in time and the gator let him go. Since then though there have been no alligator attacks at Walt Disney World.
The Parents or Disney – Who’s to Blame?
Some have been quick to blame Disney for the problem. One complaint is that they say since Disney pulled out some alligators from the Seven Seas Lagoon after the incident happened, it means that they have been too relaxed about letting the alligators live in the lakes in the area. I would say that’s not true and there are always teams ready on property to catch gators if they spot them, but it’s a little unrealistic to expect them to comb all the lakes, lagoons, ponds and canals on property 24hrs a day. It’s a 47 square mile property and the alligators move in and out through all the waterways…Impossible. Disney for the most part does a fantastic job cleaning the waterways, as soon as the spot a gator that could be a threat they take it out. This gator was 4-7 feet depending on what reports you read, so it wasn’t a 15 footer. When the gators get big they find them and get rid of them.
The other argument is that even though there are signs warning guests not to swim in the lakes, the signs don’t explicitly state it’s because there are alligators in there.
That I think is a good point, and there should be some mention to let people know how dangerous it really is. But, I think the majority of Americans should know by now that there are alligators in Florida. I’ve seen some people’s tweets and posts online not knowing there is a danger for alligators in Florida. The whole state is a swamp people! I grew up in Connecticut and I’ve never gone in a lake in Florida for that exact reason, to me it’s obvious. But I guess maybe some people still don’t know, especially foreign visitors from other countries. So it would be a good idea to update the signs warning about gators for people who somehow don’t already know.
While we don’t know all the details yet of exactly what happened on the beach, we do know the boy was playing in the water. The sheriff said in the new announcement he was “wading in the water.” Maybe the boy ran off on his own and they didn’t see him over there, I don’t know. As a parent, you have to keep your kids far from the water in Florida. You can’t let them play in, or even near a body of water, especially at night! If they knew he was there and were Ok with it, then that’s terrible judgement by the parents. Maybe it was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’ll see what other info comes out in the next few days.
The whole situation is heart-breaking. The parents must be completely devastated by everything, and my sincere best wishes go out to the whole family. I hope both Disney and parents of other families can learn from the situation so that tragedies like this can be avoided in the future.
For the future I’m not too worried about this happening again. It seems like an isolated incident because there hasn’t been anything like this in 30 years in Disney World, which is actually quite remarkable for being located in the middle of a swamp and for the fact that tens of millions of people come every year. And I’m sure Disney will be taking more precautions for sure to make sure people understand the dangers, hopefully they listen.
I’m interested to hear what you think about the whole situation…Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below
Update to original story: changes have already been taking place on Disney’s side, this week they’ve added fences along the water’s edge on the beaches of their resorts, along with more explicit signs pointing out the danger of alligators.
Our friend Tharin White from tharinwhite.com took these shots: