UPDATE: Disney closes beaches at resorts after child, 2, dragged - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Disney closes beaches at resorts after child, 2, dragged Into water by alligator

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UPDATE: According to Fox News, Disney has closed beaches at their resorts 'in an abundance of caution' following this alligator incident. 

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(NBC) A 2-year-old boy on vacation with his family at a Disney resort was attacked by an alligator and dragged into a Florida lake in front of his horrified parents, police said.

The child was playing in the water on a beach area near Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at 9:16 p.m. Tuesday "just a foot or so into the water" when the incident occurred, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said.

"The father at some point struggled to try to get his son and was not successful," he said.

The family is visiting the Seven Seas Lagoon from Nebraska, Demings added.

The alligator is described as between four and seven feet long. Deputies were searching the lake by boat and by air for the boy.

"This is still a search and rescue operation. We are very hopeful. We are hoping for the best — sometimes you get the worst," Jeff Williamson, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, said Wednesday morning.

There were signs warning people not to swim in the lagoon, he added, although the signs didn't specify why swimming was prohibited.

"All we know is that he was on the edge of the water," Williamson said. "My understanding is that he wasn't swimming."

Family members alerted a nearby lifeguard after the attack, and authorities were called.

Demings stressed that the boy's parents "diligently tried to get the child."

More than 50 law enforcement officers were searching the lake early Wednesday. The state fish and wildlife commission said it was also involved and had a trapper looking for the alligator.

"We're not leaving until we recover the child," Demings said. "As a father, as a grandfather, we're going to hope for the best in these circumstances, but based upon my 35 years of law enforcement experience, we know that we have some challenges ahead of us at this time."

Four alligators had been captured and euthanized, but none had shown evidence of being involved in the attack.

Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told reporters it wasn't possible to examine the alligators without killing them first.

"They have to be euthanized to be analyzed," he said, adding that his agency has a "very good, close working relationship" with Disney to remove nuisance alligators.

Jacquee Wahler, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort, said: "Everyone here at the Walt Disney World Resort is devastated by this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the family. We are helping the family and doing everything we can to assist law enforcement."

The boy's parents were undergoing counseling, Williamson said.

There have been at least 41 unprovoked "major" alligator attacks in Florida since 2010, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission records. At least two deaths in 2015 were the result of alligator attacks.

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