Video footage showing a Disney employee attempting to fend off an alligator just feet away from a popular Splash Mountain ride full of parents and children has been uncovered online. The footage, uploaded in 2009, clearly shows a Disney staffer holding back the reptile with a stick as it attempts to approach unaware park visitors.
The video was found after the tragic death of a two-year-old boy called Lane Graves, who was killed by a 7ft (2.1m) alligator in the waters of Disney's Seven Seas Lagoon, just south of the Magic Kingdom near Disney's Grand Floridian Resort at around 9pm on Tuesday 14 June. The toddler was wading in shallow water being watched by his parents when the incident occurred.
In the video, the employee is spotted attempting to keep the alligator at bay by hitting it over the head and watching it intently as it tries to leave the water. Those on the Splash Mountain ride going past are completely unaware of what is going on just feet away.
After the recent death, Walt Disney World resorts said it would urgently put up alligator warning signs in the area. Meanwhile, the resort's Vice President, Jacquee Wahler, said: "We are conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols. This includes the number, placement and wording of our signage and warnings."
Prior to the tragedy, the park had "no swimming" signs at the lagoon but no warnings about the potential of alligator attacks. Wahler elaborated: "We have a large property, and from time to time, we have to remove alligators from our property. Nearly one-third of Walt Disney World property is set aside as a conservation area and these areas attract a variety of native wildlife."
As reported, local law enforcement and wildlife experts have previously applauded Disney for locating and removing gators from its waters, while ensuring that guests are not "unduly exposed" to the dangerous animals.
After the most recent attack, at least five alligators were caught and cut open in attempt to locate Lane' body, which was uncovered on 15 June "completely intact". The alligator involved in the attack is believed to have drowned the boy, said local police sheriff Jerry Demings.
You can watch the video below: