How Disney World Has Been Keeping Gators Off Property After Toddler’s Tragic Death At Grand Floridian

Before construction began on Walt Disney World, the land was nothing more than open swamp. While it has since been developed into the premier vacation destination in the world, it is still, ultimately, in the middle of a swamp. This means that Walt Disney World is full of wildlife, including alligators.

While Disney has warned guests of the potential dangers near the water in the resorts, tragedy took place in 2016 when a two-year-old was attacked and killed by an alligator, and since then Walt Disney World has been working harder to get the dangerous animals removed from the property.

It turns out that at least 250 alligators have been removed from Walt Disney World property in the last five years as the result of a program started in the aftermath of the death of Lane Thomas Graves. The boy was playing in the Seven Seas Lagoon near the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa when he was attacked. Walt Disney World has been paying trappers $30 a head for trapping and removing the gators. In addition, the trappers are allowed to keep any profits that come from trapping the creatures. According to Insider, the majority of the animals are euthanized, and then the trapper can sell off the leather or meat.

Being able to profit off the gator probably helps off set the cost of trapping them. While I have no idea what it takes to trap one, I feel like $30 for doing it is a little on the cheap side considering these things can be incredibly dangerous. Having said that, not all the animals are killed. Some find their way to zoos or other exhibits, or in the case of smaller specimens, are simply relocated off property.

Walt Disney World has always worked to remove alligators from the property when possible, but this is being done at more than twice the speed with which it once was. 220 alligators were reportedly removed from the property in the decade prior to the tragic death. So even more than that have been taken out in half the time.

As massive as Walt Disney World is a lot of the land is still undeveloped or under developed, and it's still central Florida, so nothing is going to be able to completely remove these threats from the land.

It's great to see such proactive efforts being taken by all involved. The death of a child was a tragic accident but when steps can be taken to attempt to reduce such accidents from happening again, they really should be taken. A monument now stands on the beach near where Lane Thomas Graves was killed. A foundation named in his honor works today to help children in need of life saving transplants.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.