Worker fired, rehired over tweet about gators at Disney World

Shannon Sullivan was disheartened by the sign she saw posted in the Walt Disney World break room.

If guests ask whether alligators are in the water around the Magic Kingdom's Tom Sawyer Island, it told employees, the correct answer is: "Not that we know of, but if we see one, we will call Pest Management to have them removed.' Please do not say that we have seen them before."

"I was very offended by it and I was pretty vocal about it," said Sullivan, a Disney College Program participant working in Magic Kingdom restaurants.

She tweeted out a picture of the sign, which was typed on paper in several different colors.

Disney quickly removed the sign, which the company had not authorized to be posted. Around the same time, Sullivan was fired.

The Orlando Sentinel inquired about Sullivan's termination Thursday evening. On Friday morning, Magic Kingdom Vice President Dan Cockerell paid a personal visit to Sullivan to offer her the job back. She will return to work until later this month, when her internship was originally scheduled to end.

When visitors ask about alligators, Disney said it has advised workers to acknowledge that parts of the theme-park resort can attract wildlife. They are also supposed to tell guests to notify security if they see any alligators.

Disney said it does not know who posted the sign and that no one else is being disciplined over the incident. Cast members were trying to do the right thing, the company said.

"We do not want our Guests to be afraid while walking around Frontierland," the sign read.

Sullivan said she knew that sharing a picture of the sign on social media might get her in trouble. But she was bothered by the idea of misleading visitors. "At this point it became my morals and my integrity and what I believe in," she said. "I thought if I lose my job because of that, it's worth it to me."

Sullivan said a manager confronted her Thursday about the tweet, told Sullivan that her College Program stint would end early and took her identification. She was escorted from the park.

Awareness of alligators has been heightened after one snatched 2-year-old Lane Graves from the shore of Seven Seas Lagoon last month, dragging him into the water and killing him. Since then, many guests have come forward with stories of Disney gator sightings. Emails obtained by the Orlando Sentinel this week showed Disney firefighters had been admonished for feeding alligators on the property.

After Lane's death, Disney roped off the waterfront. It also posted signs explicitly warning visitors of alligators and snakes.

Pedicini writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

ALSO

Orlando gunman was HIV-negative, likely a long-term steroid user, autopsy shows

Congress releases previously secret allegations about Saudi connections to Sept. 11 attacks

Donald Trump misses a big opportunity to promote his running mate pick

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
77°