A source familiar with Disney says employees repeatedly made warnings about the closeness of alligators to guests at its properties in Orlando, Florida.
The revelation comes just days after 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed after being dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon by an alligator at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort Spa, according to The Wrap.
One of the greatest concerns was visitors at the more than $2,000 per night Bora Bora Bungalows feeding alligators on their porches, which overlooked the water, the source alleged.
“Disney has known about the problem of guests feeding the alligators well-prior to the opening of the bungalow,” the source told The Wrap. “With the opening of the bungalows, it brought the guests that much closer to wildlife. Or, the wildlife that much closer to the guests.”
“Disney knew these alligators had become desensitized to humans, as they had begun to associate guests with food, and did not act in a proactive manner,” the insider added.
In one particular incident, the source said employees raised concerns about tourists feeding a gator.
“This was brought to the manager-on-duty’s attention and, when he failed to respond, it was reported internally to Disney’s cast hotline,” the source told The Wrap. “A few days later, we saw the alligator in the same spot and tourists were again feeding it. We were, as you would imagine, in a state of disbelief. They didn’t get it. The managers did not get it, and the guests did not get it.”
Mike Hamilton, the custodian of the Grand Floridian resort, said he was so troubled by alligators approaching the side of the lagoon that he advised managers to fence off the area, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“There are signs that say, 'No swimming,' but no signs that say gators and everything else in this lake,” Hamilton told the Sentinel.
Park visitor Alfred Smith said he warned an employee at the Grand Floridian on the evening of June 14 after seeing an alligator in the Seven Seas Lagoon, the same man-made lake where Graves was attacked an hour or so later.
“I did warn another family of three that had small kids too close to the water and they along with another family took their children and left,” he told the Sentinel.
Other Disney employees believe the company does its best to deal with alligators. Disney reportedly removes problem gators, those that repeatedly show up on the waterway banks or have lost their innate fear of humans.