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Should Disney Have Warned Guests about Alligators?

disney alligator attack

We’ve all now heard and seen gut-wrenching scenes from the lake at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando where a 2-year-old boy was snatched and killed by an alligator. According to officials who conducted a day-long search, they recovered the child’s body June 15. This heartbreaking incident took place June 14, along a beach by the Seven Seas Lagoon outside the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.

The boy, Lane Graves, was on vacation with his family from Nebraska. He had waded inches into the water when the alligator attacked. His father went after the animal and tried to pry his son away, but was unsuccessful. Signs posted near the lake warn against swimming in it, but the resort did not have any signage warning about alligators in the water. Disney officials have promised to thoroughly review the situation.

Our hearts go out to the parents of this little boy for their terrible loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Several Questions Raised

Based on news reports, there are a number of questions here. How common were alligators in the lagoon where this horrific incident took place? Did Disney do enough to mitigate the problem with gators there or warn tourists specifically about the alligators? Could the resort be held liable for the toddler’s death?

While it’s a fact that there more than a million alligators statewide and tourists are generally warned about their presence, this week’s fatal attack took place in an upscale resort. Officials said this was the first alligator attack at Disney World in its nearly half century of operations.

Premises Liability Issue

Disney could be held liable for this incident if there is proof of negligence. The resort has a duty of care to its customers and would have to take reasonable safety measures to make the premises secure. An important factor that could come into play here is whether the resort had prior knowledge of alligators in the water near the hotel or if it had done anything to mitigate the problem. Apparently Disney had alligators routinely pulled out from the lagoon. So why did the resort take any steps to warn tourists who may not be aware about the dangers posed by alligators by posting specific signage?

A simple “no swimming” warning is simply not as informative or as effective as a sign conveys the message that there are gators present in the water. If it can be proven that Disney knew about the gators, but didn’t properly warn tourists or guests, the company can be held liable.


Image credit: http://rollingout.com/2016/06/15/alligator-drags-child-water-disney-world/

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