Paul Santamaria Gator Attack Victim at Disney in 1986

Paul Santamaria

Paul Santamaria is a New Hampshire resident sharing his own terrifying story of being attacked by a gator 30-years ago at another Disney resort.

In the midst of two-year-old Lane Graves, the boy who was snatched by a gator at Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian resort earlier this week, Santamaria says, Lane wasn’t the first, throwing to the trash Disney’s attempt to say something like this had never happened before.

With telling his story, Santamaria simply hopes the parents of Lane Graves, to know that what happened wasn’t their fault.


Santamaria revealed he was feeding the ducks at Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground lake back in the summer of 1886, when an alligator erupted from the water’s edge.

“It turned its head sideways and grabbed my leg. From there, it started to thrash me around, pull on me, and try to get me into the water.”

He says his sister grabbed his arms while his brother hit the 7-foot female gator. The intense, violent episode ended  once the alligator opened her mouth and let go.

Santamaria who was hospitalized for a week, recognizes how lucky he is to be alive but says is not something easy to live with.

The gator’s tooth was pulled from his thigh where it barely missed his femoral artery.

Thirty years later, the scars remind him of the horrific attack and the trauma to endure.

“For a long time as a little kid, I didn’t sleep in my own room; I didn’t like water.”


After the news broke on Lane’s tragic death, Santamaria was heartsick and angry when he heard authorities say, “Disney has operated here now for 45 years and they’ve never had this type of thing happen before.”

Paul Santamaria says he wasn’t able to discuss any legalities surrounding his attack including if he received a settlement or if Disney accepted responsibility.