Local family says Disney didn’t warn them of alligator risk during recent trip

PORTER CORNERS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – After a toddler was grabbed by an alligator at a Disney World resort, a Saratoga County family said they were not warned of the risks during their recent trip.

Three weeks ago, Dani Saunders, Christopher Spackman and their two young daughters, Charlie and Laila, were at Disney in Orlando, Fla. They stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort, but one night they went to a beach on Bay Lake to watch fireworks.

“It’s the same area that the lagoon goes into,” Saunders said. “And we went at the same time – at 9:30 as the other people were there.”

Saunders was referring to the family who lost their 2-year-old son when an alligator pulled him away. But the family of four never got to see the fireworks on Bay Lake because of a warning from two teenagers.

“A maintenance worker who lived in the area had told them you shouldn’t be on this beach because it’s breeding season for alligators,” Saunders said.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, May and June are typically mating season for alligators. Saunders and Spackman were shocked they weren’t told by the resort.

They feel Disney should do more to inform guests such as closing beaches early or putting up alligator warning signs. They saw none.

“No one told us except two teenagers,” Spackman said. “No signs saying there are alligators in the water.”

Now their hearts go out to the family grieving over their little boy, who was the same age as Laila. They wish someone had given that family a warning, too.

“All I could think about is what those parents have to feel when they watch their baby being taken under by an alligator,” Saunders said.

The boy’s family was staying at the Grand Floridian Hotel at Walt Disney World Resort. He was taken under the water around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to police.

His body was recovered Wednesday afternoon. He was identified as Lane Graves.

Disney announced it closed beaches at all 26 resorts after the boy was grabbed.

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