Tick Tock was a ticking clock: Disney and the Alligator

Tick Tock the crocodile tormented Captain Hook throughout Disney’s Peter Pan. The beast that took the Captain’s hand stalks him, and the alarm clock he swallowed gave a constant warning of the approaching danger. If Disney had learned a few lessons from their work, the recent tragedy in Walt Disney World could have been avoided.[/dropcap]

Orange County Police recovered the body of 2-year-old Lane Graves near the Disney Grand Floridian Hotel. The boy was playing in the lagoon near the hotel when he was pulled under the water by an alligator that lived in that lagoon. In the wake of this tragedy, many are asking what Disney could have done to preserve the life of Lane.

No one expects Disney to keep alligators out of swampy areas in central Florida. That said, the park certainly could have done more to prevent access to uncontrolled waters in a resort frequented mostly by young children and their parents. Parents across the country have released dozens of photos showing their children playing in the exact same spot. While alligators have not been involved in any other incidents, that they inhabit the swamplands that surround the park.

Simply putting up warning signs is clearly insufficient to deter swimming in this lagoon, particularly among very young children. Disney markets their park as “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and as a safe, kid-friendly environment where parents might feel comfortable relaxing. With the easy access to the lagoon surrounding the Disney Grand Floridian Hotel, parents would only need to be distracted (or unaware of the danger) for a split second to leave their child exposed to life-threatening wild animals.

Building a fence around the lagoon, or erecting some other kind of barrier, would provide a clear, unambiguous signal that the lagoon was not for swimming. It would also create a delay between a child attempting to enter the water and the child being in serious danger. That moment of delay could have been the difference between life and death for Lane Graves.

There are those who would blame the Graves for their inattention to their son’s plight. It may be that attention at just the right time could have saved Lane’s life. However, it’s unreasonable to expect parents to be constantly on guard at all times, particularly in a place that bills itself as a carefree getaway for families. It is far easier to build a fence than to keep a child away from an attractive nuisance.

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