- Disney World is home to a number of alligators. Since 2016, there have been over 200 reported alligator sightings in the park.
- Alligators have, unfortunately, been responsible for several attacks and deaths in Disney World. The most infamous case was of a toddler who was attacked and killed by a gator that emerged from one of the park’s lakes.
- In light of recent attacks, Disney World has taken steps to try to eliminate the presence of alligators in the park. Nonetheless, all visitors should assume that any freshwater body of water in the park has gators in it. If you see a gator in Disney World, report it to park authorities immediately.
American alligators are common in the United States, but more specifically Florida. Central Florida is no stranger to alligator sightings and this includes Disney World. Millions of guests and visitors travel to Disney World for a fun vacation, and some of them even have a chance to spot an alligator near their stay. But, how often are alligators found in Disney World? Have there been any attacks? Keep reading to find out.
About American Alligators
American alligators are apex predators. They are large reptiles and are known to be aggressive. These massive hunters stalk their prey in the water, camouflaging with murky brackish water. When their prey is close and unaware, they strike quickly. American alligators are found across the United States, but are more common in the southeast, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi. They prefer freshwater marshes with lots of hiding places.
These large reptiles are fast, strong, and also excellent climbers. Did you know American alligators sleep in trees? It’s also common to see American alligators sunbathing and resting together in large groups, however, they are still independent and solitary animals. Although American alligators are aggressive and territorial, they also prefer to stay away from humans. However, you should never willingly stay in the water with a wild alligator. They are dangerous and will attack quickly.
Are There Alligators in Florida?
There are over 1.25 million American alligators living in Florida. They are found throughout the state, including the north, central, and south. However, the majority of American alligators live in the everglades. The everglades water system though travels high and touches Central Florida. If you are visiting Florida, always assume that there are alligators in any freshwater body of water. They hide well in moss and algae.
Are There Alligators in Orlando/Kissimmee?
While most people think of Disney World and other theme parks when they hear the names Orlando and Kissimmee, these two cities are also full of wildlife. There are alligators in the Orlando and Kissimmee area. They often live in state parks and large lakes with moss and places to hide. Although most American alligators live in large lakes away from the suburbs, it’s still common to see an alligator in a small residential lake. Sometimes they travel in the sewers and storm drains. If you see an American alligator in your neighborhood, call animal services. They are aggressive and dangerous, sometimes growing past 15 feet long.
Have Alligators Been Spotted in Disney World?
Alligators are a lot more common than you’d think in Disney World. Since 2016, over 200 nuisance alligators were removed from the park and its surrounding areas. Most of the American alligators that find themselves in Disney World, don’t travel to the parks, but instead, live in the lakes by the resorts and hotels. Sadly, there have been a few times when alligators struck, hurt, and killed people in Disney World.
One of the more well-known cases is about the small 2-year-old toddler, Lane Graves, who was bitten and dragged into the water in 2016 by a large alligator. He was playing near the edge of the water when he was bitten on the head and dragged away. His father sprung to action and attempted to save his son by putting his hands into the alligator’s mouth. However, the alligator got away with the toddler. Sadly, the small boy passed away.
Since then, Disney World has made many changes to their resorts and how they react when a guest reports an alligator sighting. There are now signs plastered everywhere warning guests not to feed the wildlife and that there might be alligators in the bodies of water at the park and its resorts. Compared to before 2016, Disney World is working with trappers more to get rid of potentially dangerous alligators. Still, they are spotted across the parks, but especially in Magic Kingdom.
What to do if you See an Alligator Near your Home
Alligators are not friends or pets. If you see one while visiting Disney World, contact a crew member as fast as possible so they can alert their management. American alligators are fast and can run in bursts of up to 35 mph on land and 20 mph in the water at a consistent pace. If you are in the water with an alligator, remain as calm as possible. Walk out of the water quietly, doing your best not to make a sound and draw attention to yourself. When you are out of the water, calmly walk away and leave the wild animal alone. It’s never a good idea to touch or feed a wild alligator. Getting an alligator used to humans can cause more attacks.
What Scares Off Alligators and How do You Defend Yourself Against Them?
Because alligators are truly some of the world’s most dangerous animals, it is important to think about how to scare them off and what to do if one attacks you.
The good news is that alligators tend to be pretty shy. Human activity generally will keep them at bay or scare them off. If you think they may be in the area, do not be afraid to make a lot of racket. They would prefer to be in a more peaceful environment and one that is filled with prey that will not be so difficult to approach.
The bad news is that alligators are very stealthy when they are in the water, typically only showing their eyes. When they are on land, you may mistake them as a fallen log when they are sunbathing and remaining very still. In other words, you may not realize that you have stumbled into an area that contains alligators. Be watchful!
If you cannot move away and an alligator does bite you, your best defense is to physically fight back! Human’s main advantage is our size. As with most creatures, alligators’ eyes are vulnerable to a strike, so aim for the eyes if you have to. Another thing you absolutely want to avoid is allowing the gator to start turning or rolling with you in their maw. That is how they pull prey into the water and break limbs!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Cindy Larson
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are alligators found in Disney World?
Alligators are a lot more common than you’d think in Disney World. Since 2016, over 200 nuisance alligators were removed from the park and its surrounding areas.
Has Disney World had any alligator attacks?
One of the more well-known cases is about the small 2-year-old toddler, Lane Graves, who was bitten and dragged into the water in 2016 by a large alligator. He was playing near the edge of the water when he was bitten on the head and dragged away.
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