I am, like a lot of people, still in shock of all the horror that has happened in Orlando over the past week. The latest horrific event happening somewhere a lot of us spend vacations.
Matt and Melissa Graves were with their children Tuesday night on one of the beaches at the Grand Floridian. According to CNN, 2 year old Lane was wading in the water along the shoreline while his parents were on the beach with his sister, who was in a playpen. Lane was grabbed by an alligator and dragged into the water. The parents tried, unsuccessfully to save him. Unfortunately, he did not survive. However, they did find his body intact on Wednesday afternoon. So at least the family can have a proper burial.
I can honestly say this story has had me feeling sick ever since I heard about it. I have a son who is two and we bring the kids down to Disney World when we are able to. I snuggled with my son for a long time last night, just thinking about that poor mother in her hotel room at a resort that is located somewhere that is supposed give you “magical” memories. I am heartbroken and horrified for this family. I can’t imagine seeing what they saw that night.
The internet, of course, is full of opinions. Everyone is very quick to place the blame on someone. First of all, that’s not our job. If it gets to that point, there is a legal system in place to figure out where the blame is to be placed. Second, this is not the first family to let their kid splash on the beaches. I’ve seen it many times during past trips and I’ve seen many pictures of kids in the water on these beaches that have been shared in Disney groups.
There are signs that say “No Swimming,” but not everyone takes that to mean “Stay out of the water.” I’ll be honest, if I see a “No Swimming” sign I don’t go near the water and don’t let my kids near the water, but I also know about alligators in the waters in Florida. So is it Disney’s fault? I don’t think so. Then is it the family’s fault? I don’t think so. What I do think is that it is a horrific tragedy and we need to let this family grieve without throwing opinions at them.
Something else I have heard in the past couple of days is that people are afraid they are going to run into an alligator while they are in Disney. Obviously, we all like to take trips to Disney World, some might be going this summer, and this is something that will probably be in the back of your mind. I will say that in the times that I have been there I have never seen an alligator, but I know they have been spotted by guests over the years.
The truth is there are alligators in Florida and if there is a body of water, there is always a chance of having an alligator in it. People in Florida have found them in their pools. In the article, CNN states that there are 1.3 million alligators in Florida, so it stands to reason some would end up in the bodies of water in Disney. The company does have a full-time team that looks for animals that could be considered dangerous and calls the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who will take care of the situation.
Disney closed all the beaches on property yesterday and I’m sure there are going to be some changes in the near future. We’ve been on some of the beaches, but haven’t ever been near the water. We’re usually closer to the paths than the water. The picture below shows the same beach that we were on during our last trip, but we were back by the path, not even close to the lounge chairs.
If you are going to Disney World over summer break and are worried about the alligators, just be cautious. Though I don’t think seeing alligators is going to be a common occurrence, especially so close to a busy area. The biggest and most important thing to remember is not to go in the water. I can’t stress that enough. Disney has multiple pools and splash areas at the resorts for a reason. Please, please do not go in the lagoon and lake waters.
The bottom line is that this is a terribly horrific tragedy. I can’t begin to imagine the pain the parents are feeling right now. My mind won’t let me go there with my own kids, so I really can’t imagine, but the pain has got to be incredible. I am heartbroken for them and they have a very long road ahead of them.
Please keep this family in your thoughts and prayers. They are going to need a lot of healing.
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Thanks Liz! Very well written. It was just an accident, no one is to blame.
Thanks Debbie! I feel so awful for the parents and some of the stuff people are saying is so cruel and uncalled for. The parents each just lost a part of their hearts and I’m hoping if they see anything, they see all the compassionate postings and not the cruel ones. The pain they are feeling is unimaginable to me. :’-(
It could have been anybody! The picture you show at the Yacht and Beach Club is right where my family was just 3 years ago and we did a family photo shoot with a photographer from Disney! We actually have a couple in the background of some of our pics (right next to that “no swimming” sign) actually ankle deep in the water!!! I am so very sad for this family and will keep them in my prayers. On another note, I have been reading everything you post here for months now. You helped me and my family count down to our next trip to Disney, which is now 7 short days away. A huge THANK YOU!!! 8:-)
You are so right Deana, it could have been anybody. I am so glad to see more compassion than judgment going around for this family.
So happy you have found the posts helpful! I hope you guys have the most magical time when you are there!!
It was a truly devastating accident as you say, Liz. One thing we noticed from watching the news coverage was how close the children’s playground was to the water. Just wonder how many of the other Disney resorts have their children’s playgrounds near water and not fenced off ?
Thanks for writing such a moving and heartfelt article
Thank you for the kind words, Liz!
I think Disney is going to be making some changes very soon. I’ve definitely heard that they are going to add some new signage.
Your post is very nicely written. Thank you! I wish I could put this into perspective for some people who are from the Florida area. I am from Indiana. We don’t have alligators here. In our lakes we swim and wade with very little danger. When we see a “No Swimming ” sign, to us, that means “Don’t Immerse Your Body in That Water”. Wading, to us, isn’t really swimming. Those poor people from Nebraska really had no clue there might be a horrible danger in that water. I agree, no one is at fault. I believe the signs should more informative and adamant about the possible dangers, as I’m sure Disney will take care of. We just got back from our Disney trip about a week before all the Orlando tragedies. Our hearts break for all involved.
I agree, Denise. More specific signage would be helpful. I’ve also heard that there is a possibility that some tourists were actually feeding the alligator and that might be why it felt comfortable enough to come close to the shore with people there. Might have to update the article to also stress that people should not feed the alligators. The whole thing is just horrible. I still feel sick for the family. I just hope they see the compassionate posts and not the posts blaming them. They lost a part of themselves that night and judgment is the last thing they need. So thank you for adding your positive comment!
Thank you so much for your non-judgemental reporting. As a Mom and grandmother who has year after year enjoyed times and memories made at WDW, I find it impossible to fully grasp what this family is going through-grief, horror, and please make it be a bad dream moments. At the same time I’m sure Disney is devastated. Behind the business is a large cast of caring people.
I agree D’Ana. I truly believe Disney is devastated like the rest of us.
Hi again Liz. Just a thought-maybe add to your tips page under the resort label a general statement about the paying attention to all warning signs throughout WDW.
I think that’s a good idea, D’Ana. Thank you.
What a lovely, caring and sensitive post. I read lots of posts but have never felt compelled to comment before now. As a family from the U.K we send special thoughts for the family as well as the many good people of Orlando who have also suffered their own tragedy as of late.
Thank you for your kind words! Your thoughts are very much appreciated. Poor Orlando has been through so much, but the people there are strong.
Very well written you said everything we all have said and discuss, we go every year and have two teen girls & 3yr old girl my girl friend and I joke a lot Florida gators that though was always in the back of my mind, however I was more concerned about the SNAKES I live in NC this is normal for use to see a gator or snake you are not shock a little surprised. When you are on vacation or a public place you can not let your guard down.This broke my Heart Iheard this in my sleep on cnn work up at 12:58 to see this on tv I couldn’t imagine what the family are going I through , when we are their a lot of people not following rules or warning. I had already talk with my older two about keeping our little one safe from the water at Port Orlean riverside I told my girls its possible to see an alligator and my husband agreed that we all have to keep our eyes on her the entire TRIP ! (We always stay at Pop Century) Just keep the family in your prayers! WATCH YOUR CHILDREN
Last time we were in Disney & getting ready to end our trip we were finishing up with a day at Animal Kingdom. Upon leaving the park on our bus the driver pointed out by the exit gate a 10 ft+ gator where he was very quick to warn everyone on the bus please watch out for the gators while u enjoy your stay as Disney was constructed on swamp land & this was the alligators home. They tend to keep to themselves but please beware. Everyone grabbed their phones & took pictures from the safety of the bus.
What shocks me about the Grand Floridian incident is my 24 & 21 year old played on that exact beach many years ago as young children and yes we even played in those exact waters. In the water. This shows it was just one of those things that happens in nature & you must always beware. Wherever you are. I’m sorry for the families loss as it hits very close to home knowing it could have been my boys just as well.
Please let’s not fault Disney!!!
The last thing I want to see is changes made that affect the beauty & tranquility of 7 Seas Lagoon & the other lakes on Disney property. This was just a terribly unfortunate accident that could’ve happened to anyone of us.
66 days & counting till our next stay at the Contemporary & we’d hate to see the lakes & water activities closed as the mini speed boats are one of our favorite things to do.
See ya Real Soon:)
Thank you Liz for your lovely comments. I agree with you totally. What it looks like they are doing is putting up poles for a fence which I think is a great idea.
I thought Disney had man made lagoons and never thought alligators were around.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and to Disney World personnel as they attempt to prevent this from happening again.
That was a really well written piece. We have postponed our trip until next year, 90% because our daughter who will be 23 months just doesn’t seem quite ready and 5% the shootings at pulse and 5% the tragedy with Lane.
We have been multiple times as a couple but this is the first time as a family and I can’t pretend you don’t look at everything differently.
My thoughts and prayers are with the family and all that have been involved. Truly heartbreaking x