Disney Closes Beaches as Rescue Teams Search for 2-Year-Old Boy Who Was Dragged Into Lagoon by Alligator
"The beaches are closed. There is tape keeping people away from any of the lakes. They are taking this very seriously," a Disney World resort employee tells PEOPLE
Beaches at Walt Disney World resorts are closed as rescue teams scour the water for a 2-year-old boy who was dragged into a lake by an alligator near a hotel at the Orlando theme park, PEOPLE has learned.
An employee at a neighboring resort tells PEOPLE that guests and employees aren’t even allowed to go on the sand.
“This is a big deal. This isn’t like a ride malfunction and someone got hurt. This is tragic. Everyone’s freaked out about it,” the source says. “[The company] is going to train us all about what we should do when this type of thing happens.”
The source adds, “The beaches are closed. There is tape keeping people away from any of the lakes. They are taking this very seriously.”
The new precautions come just hours after a toddler was dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon by an alligator at around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday – the animal is believed to be from 4 to 7 feet long,” authorities announced.
The Nebraska boy was on vacation with his family at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The boy was playing in about a foot of water when the alligator came out of the water and attacked, according to authorities. There were “no swimming” signs posted around the area.
“They have wildlife experts who are going to go to every lake and check it for safety,” the employee says. “There is already a rule that you can’t swim in any of the lakes, but now they’re going to really strictly enforce it.
“If we see someone in the water, we are authorized to throw them off of the property.”
The source says that couples who had planned beach weddings at Disney resorts have been given the option of having their ceremonies at other locations around the property with no additional charges.
A witness tells PEOPLE that the beaches are blocked off “with at least one policeman and staff posted around the entrances.”
Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings told reporters Tuesday night, “We’re not leaving until we recover the child.”
Sheriff’s office spokesman Jeff Williamson echoed Demings statements on Wednesday.
“We are very hopeful,” Williamson said. “Sometimes you get the worst, but we are hoping for the best.”