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Forget about giving a Mouse a cookie. Never feed a Gator a turkey leg

Jim Hill

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Forget about giving a Mouse a cookie. Never feed a Gator a turkey leg

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With all the Disney / nature-related news this week (i.e. Monday's big reveal of the Studio's new production banner, "Disneynature." Tuesday's announcement of the renaming of the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. Plus -- of course -- yesterday's celebration of Animal Kingdom's 10th anniversary) ... You'd think that the Mouse was actually at one with nature.

Well, down in here in Central Florida ... That's not quite the case. What with the Swiss Family Treehouse's raccoon infestation problem, those turkey buzzards who used to attack the tortoises that were on display over at Discovery Island, not to mention those seagulls who periodically swoop in and snag tourists' hotdogs ... Disney World's problem is that there's just too much nature in the swamps that surround its theme parks & resorts. Which is why WDW officials continually struggle to keep Mickey's furry & feathered friends at bay.

Which brings me to the Magic Kingdom's alligator problem. Periodically, one of these large carnivorous reptiles will climb over those railroad tracks that separate this theme park from the marsh beyond. And then they'll slip into the Rivers of America and go in search of food.

Now while the Mouse may have made a lot of money off of "The Circle of Life" ... WDW officials don't actually want to see this concept played out. Particularly in front of the paying customers.

Photo by Dick Bailey / U.S Fish and Wildlife Service
Copyright 2006 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved

So a few years back, when a 7-foot long behemoth set up shop next to Splash Mountain and began dining on the baby ducks, Disney knew that it had to do something. Especially after they caught some stupid Magic Kingdom visitors tossing their partially-eaten turkey legs to this particular gator.

Now in the state of Florida, it's actually against the law to feed an alligator. Why For? Because -- by doing so -- you'll unintentionally cause these creatures to lose their natural fear of man. More importantly, you'll then teach them to associate humans with food. Which could have pretty disastrous consequences further on down the line.

Anyway ... Once WDW officials heard that this alligator had acquired a taste for turkey legs, they called in the cavalry. Which -- in this case, anyway -- was one of the veteran animal handlers from over at Gatorland.

And that morning ... Disney literally shut down traffic on the Rivers of America. As this Gatorland rep climbed aboard one of the Tom Sawyer Island rafts and then -- armed with an enormous net -- began chasing this gator up and down that waterway.

But the wiley reptile kept eluding his pursuers. Which is why the Gatorland guy then broke out the big guns: Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows.

Now don't ask me why. But alligators just can not resist Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmellows. And the gator in question here was actually lured up on shore inside of Frontierland by following a trail of this puffy white treats.

Anyway ... The folks visiting the Magic Kingdom that day were treated to quite a show. As this Gatorland rep -- in true alligator wrestler fashion -- first jumped on the creature's back and then ducktaped its jaws shut. Once this critter was incapacitated, they then threw that gator in a wheelbarrel and rolled him out through the Frontierland gate. To much applause, I might add. And just ahead the 3 p.m. parade.

Which -- the way I hear it -- led to a number of WDW visitors dropping by City Hall that day. Where they then inquired about when the next alligator wrestling demonstration would be presented in the park.

Seriously, folks. As strange as this story may sound, it actually did happen at the Magic Kingdom a few years back ... And the morale of this story is: Don't throw your partially-eaten turkey legs (or Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, for that matter) to any gators that you may see on WDW property. Or anywhere else in the state of Florida, for that matter. The folks who regularly have to deal with these nuisance gators thank you.

Your thoughts?

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  • Slow news day?

  • Without photographs, it never happened....

  • So did anything David Koenig ever write happen in Mousetales  its  funny story... Good work Jim

  • To quote Jim himself, "Why for was this story written?"

    What a silly topic for a story ...

  • lightin up Pickstar - this is not CNN - writing about funny and interesting things is part of this forum - man you need to take a pill and relax

  • stinkywink said:

    " ... you need to take a pill and relax"

    Got any good ones? I'm open to trying new things.

  • How do we know the whole Light Magic story behind it existed you take Jims word on it... Like i said before this forum is about interesting things that are happening at the mouse and stories...  Just like when Bob Gurr tells imagineering stories,  and Wade sampson tells his stories you take the word for it and enjoy what they have o share

  • Thank you for sharing this story, Mr. Hill!

    I wish I had been there to see the alligator wrestling, but from a safe distance, of course.

    I got a good laugh out of the fact that alligators like marshmellows; who would have thought.


  • Classic!  It's amazing how we've all been taken in by the Disney Magic!

    "Is that one of those... those... you know... auto-erotica..."

    "Animitronic?  No, no.  These are the real thing!"

    Anyone catch my Jurassic Park reference there?  Clever, eh?  Alligators.  Jurassic Park.  Heh heh.....

    ...THIS is why I only do two shows a night!

  • And all this is why I don't comment daily.

    I have to agree with PICKSTAR on the point that I do prefer the WD News articles over the fluff pieces. I rarely read them or post about them, however, this one did make me chuckle.

    Now, how about following up with a worthy news piece that says something.

  • In words of AL CAPP:

    Shouuda  GULLY - womped  DAT  Gae-TOOR  ....  "yesSIL  dem gator TODS taste jus' like chicken   ....   ummmmmmm   ummmmM"

    In CM employee S.O.P. from Disney University employee protocol   ...   wheeling that gator out on stage for people to see & create all kinds of inquiries akin anything like        'is the little dear hurt?'   ...     all of that would be considered "BAD SHOW"  within Disney's own practices.  Points off that day  !!!   ;(

  • Dem  gator  tods  taste  just  like  chicken  ummmm  Ummmmm  =)

  • Bad show, perhaps, but the gator was already "on stage" and eating the ducks -- sometimes you have to cover a really bad show with a slightly less bad show.

  • Um. Cute story, but sort of lame. It was a slow news day yesterday, eh, Jim?.... And now today you're just not giving us a story...

  • WestCOT said:

    "Um. Cute story, but sort of lame. It was a slow news day yesterday, eh, Jim?.... And now today you're just not giving us a story..."

    Apparently, I'm not the only one who needs to "take a pill and relax." ;)

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