“ 14501 South Orange Blossom Trail / Orlando / FL 32837 / Fon: 407.855.5496 / Toll Free: 800.393.JAWS. „
I visited Gatorland whilst on holiday in the USA with my partner last week. As described on its own website, it's a '110 acre theme park and wildlife preserve', grown from a roadside attraction in 1949 and still owned by the same family to this day. The park is located on Orange Blossom Trail, between Orlando and Kissimmee, Florida, and is not hard to find - you certainly won't miss the giant alligator head that forms the entrance!
- Prices -
We came across Gatorland almost by accident; our original plan was to spend one day in either Disney World or Universal Studios - until we saw the prices! Gatorland is of course much smaller and a different type of park (much more wildlife focused) than the two giant theme parks but we found the prices were much more within our budget, especially as we only had one full day available to spend in Orlando and therefore couldn't take advantage of the multi-day offers at Disney or Universal.
Admission - not including tax:
Single Day Admission (Adult): $22.99
Single Day Admission (Child): $14.99
Discounts are available either online or by using a coupon found in one of the Orlando discount coupon leaflets - you can find these almost anywhere, hotel lobbies, diners, etc. We managed to get an additional $2.50 off the list price each by using a coupon we found on such a leaflet.
- The Park -
There are a few different areas to the park, and it took us an enjoyable afternoon to see them all and watch a couple of the shows. Although the official website describes it as such, I personally wouldn't say Gatorland is a theme park, as the only ride is a train ride that takes you around the whole park - I think this is extra money too. There is a splash park for kids however, with lots of fountains for them to run around in and enjoy.
The smaller alligators and turtles are near the entrance, and if you want to see the really big ones, these are floating around in the enormous breeding marsh towards the back of the park. There's a three-tier observation platform in this area too, so you can take a look around you and see all the beautiful scenery, alligators, and birds.
My partner and I purchased some alligator food from a stand within the park, and spent a fun hour wandering around the marsh and feeding the alligators. Make sure you watch out for the birds though, as they like the food too and they will follow you and peck you if you're not careful!
Make sure you check out the white alligators while you're there - there were four of them when I visited. They are really weird looking and quite aggressive to other gators so have to be kept in their own individual special areas!
- The Shows -
There are three shows for you to view at Gatorland: Gator Jumparoo, Gator Wrestlin', and Upclose Encounters. They are run on rotation, one an hour. I'm afraid I didn't watch the Upclose Encounters show so can't offer an opinion on this particular one, but the other two shows were very enjoyable.
'Gator Jumparoo' is styled as a competition between two stereotypical hillbillies who both want to be the new Gator wrestler, so the show involves three people - a commentator and then the two competitors. The winner is the one who can get the alligators to jump up out of the water and eat the chickens he is holding the fastest. It's a fun show to watch and it was pretty scary seeing the alligators launch themselves out of the water to get the chickens!
'Gator Wrestlin'' takes place in a small arena with a fenced in sandy area in the middle where the alligator wrestling happens. There's an introduction and some audience interaction, and then the Gator wrestler shows the crowd how to keep the alligator's mouth closed and does some small stunts with the gator - eg. balancing his chin on the gator's mouth. Good fun again, and worth a watch.
- In summary -
Overall, this was a fabulous day out that I think both adults and children would enjoy at a reasonable price. Although Gatorland has no theme park rides (with the exception of the train), I would definitely say it's worth a visit for the beautiful surroundings, the fun of feeding the alligators, and the entertaining shows.
Gatorland is perfect for those who love reptiles and just want a day out instead of going to the disney parks, because they have a wide range of; Pythons, Alligators, Crocodiles, Tortoises, etc.
When you visit Gatorland there will be a wide range of shows on and lots of stuff for the children to do. There is a Crocodile wrestling show, A park where kids can get soaked with water, Also an opportunity not for feint hearted to sit on an Alligator.
Also one of the scariest things I've done in my life was when i went to gatorland we had opportunity to feed the Gators but we didnt realize that you had to go in the cage and feed them, so we wnt in thinking they are only babies but there was 100's of them all about 10 ft long, and we were standing 1 metre away and the guy who was in with us had the long end of the broomstick to protect us. After that...We had to crouch with our backs facing towards them whilst we had our picture taken. Once we camne out of the enclosure, we asked " What is the biggest Alligator in there? " and he replied " About 17 foot.."
I would reccommend this for a place to go if you ever went to visit Orlando in Florida. It makes a change to going to all the theme parks, although the theme parks are good this place is just great for all ages. if your lucky you may get to hold a Baby alligator on your way to the exit because sometimes there is a man holding one for those who want a picture taken and were not brave enough to go into the enclosure with them.
Gatorland is known as the "alligator capital of the world". Whilst it says what it is on the tin, there is so much else to do and see at this laid back attraction away from the madness of the major theme parks. Gatorland boasts of course hundreds of alligators, as well as a breeding marsh, petting zoo, aviary, nature trail, reptilian shows and other animal exhibits. Last year they opened Gator Gully, a cute splash park where the kids could cool off and have some fun in the water amid the day out at Gatorland. Gator Gully is located within the existing Gatorland park, and is free with your regular Gatorland ticket.
TIP: We took advantage this year as we always do of shopping around for tickets in advance, for all of our theme park days, and this year bought a Go Orlando Card which included Gatorland as part of its admission. It also included Kennedy Space Center, Boggy Creek Airboats, Silver Springs (which was lovely and a best kept secret in my opinion), as well as many of the I Drive attractions including mini golf, Ripleys and Wonderworks, In fact, we used it in the evenings on IDrive as those attractions mostly stay open til very late. I had not used this card before, but all of the attractions seemed very familiar with it, and seemed a very professional set up.
Trouble with Orlando is, well Orlando really. Its plastic and the fake smiles match your overwhelming desire to snap back at someone and say I might not want a great day!
Lets face it, the Mouse has an annoying squeaky voice and after you have heard a hundred kinds trying to mimic this, it becomes like scraping your fingers down a blackboard. Hence the reason to look further a field to find ways to compensate for the humongous steak or unlimited lobster you will consume come evening fall.
I try and earn this right by running for half an hour every morning in the scorching heat and unrelenting humidity, and trust me; you can lose a couple of pounds quite easily doing this. So how does this fit into Gatorland? Simple, we look for places to go where we are outdoors, active and not bored. We have tried horse riding along trails, airboat rides on Kissimmee lakes and various other activities just to keep the motion going and not standing in queues all day. It was about this time that we saw a leaflet for Gatorland in Kissimmee, some 10 miles due east of Disney on Orange Blossom trail. The advert mentioned over a hundred acres of swampland and miles of walking trails, so we jumped into the convertible and headed out.
Getting there was easy, we drove along the H192, Irlo Bronson Highway, past our favourites, Old Town and Walmart and then missed the turning as orange Blossom trail is called Main Street where it crosses the 192, but a swift uee (U Turn) got us back on the right road. 5 minutes later we pulled into a long stretching car park and made our way up to the giant Gator mouth that made for an interesting entrance to the park. If you are travelling from International Drive, take the 417 and turn off on Orange Blossom Trail South.
It cost $19.95 to get in but we had some $5 off vouchers that we acquired from a hotel lobby somewhere in amongst a dozen other money off coupon booklets, a must for any traveller. Once inside the mouth the actual entrance is a long one way shop, full of plastic gator products and typical tourist souvenirs, and although tempted to buy a Gator ashtray, a firm elbow from Sherry made me rethink my values.
Open 9 until 5, Gatorland is not a full day attraction unless you are a diehard nature fan so there is no need to rush to get there in the morning. The main part of the park is built like giant decking or raised timber platforms over the swamp with the gators swimming underneath your feet. We were fortunate to arrive just as the main show of gator feeding was taking place and we witnessed ten feet long gators jumping out the water and grabbing a leg of some unfortunate road kill victim. It was quite an awesome experience and you will never get close to a zoo gator tank ever again after seeing this. They tie a lump of meat to a length of rope and dangle it mid-lake and the gators all swim like crazy to get to the middle and jump up and grab it.
There are three other shows as well throughout the day, gator wrestling is fun and an enjoyable escape from the beating sun. Good commentary and the kids loved getting close up to the gators as well, worth watching for sure.
Close encounters is more bugs and reptiles and not for people who are a bit afraid of spiders. Made into a bit of a story/pantomime, this show is quite entertaining but the sun was very hot and shade was only available at the top of the pavilion which meant you were away from holding the 20ft snake they had, shame.
They had a show about crocodiles as well, Florida being the only place to my knowledge where you get both crocs and gators wild, well bloody livid if they get caught I guess! I do not remember too much about this and may have missed the show for some other display I think.
There is a massive gator breeding ground with some 15ft plus monsters in view. There is a multi-level wooden observation tower for your viewing pleasure, as they say and it commands some memorable views of the plethora of crocs there are. This is a natural breeding ground and it was established back in 91 to help alleviate the dwindling numbers of wild crocs due to the development of Orland and central Florida in general. You learn all this in the education centre that is also on sight here.
There is a small zoo in one corner of Gatorland and it allows you to get away from the fierceness of the gators and see a calmer, more subdued side of what the Gatorland is trying to achieve. The train ride is good but then I enjoy train and boat rides, its the British in me. There just seems to be something relaxing about sitting there and chugging along slowly while taking in the scenery, the exotic birds and the rest of the evergreen scenery Florida has to offer.
There are no real rides here other than a couple of kiddies slides and such in a dry playground. This is actually a great idea as the kids get a bit bored of looking and listening to gator stuff and it lets them run wild and get the Mouse out of their systems. They can also pet a few animals in the farmyard or pets corner, whatever you prefer to call it. I never go into kids activities too much as mine are 17 and 15 and dont do kids things, so I only mention them in case you are considering taking young children as I know it can be a priority for some people.
The swamp walk is very surreal and relaxing. Just take your time and listen to the noises the animals and birds make, its really quite fascinating and enchanting at times. I find it best to have a bottle of water with you and sip regular so as not to dehydrate in the sun. Resting on the wooden railings of the trail, you can stare into what you think is just swamp and see frogs, lizards and various reptiles slithering along the trees and fauna.
The food is quite American, as in burgers and hot dogs, corn dogs and BBQ pork etc, but fairly reasonably priced at about £3 including fries. Drinks are about £1 to £1.50 a time but in fairness they are so big you can easily share one. Souvenir mugs are available with free refills which are great if you are a family of four as you just share them and fill them up again.
I liked Gatorland as it gave a whole new dimension to a day out in Disneys backyard, something I found I needed after a few visits. Voted best non-Disney attraction only 2 years ago, it shows they take pride in aiming to please their visitors and quality is good. I doubt I could last a full day here but coupled with the shops on the way there and the shops on the way back, it will make a good day out. I think we stayed in the park for about 5 hours and the only problem we had was the heat.
Check out their website if you are going to Orlando, it makes for an interesting day out and also an educational must if you want to bore your friends over a curry one night, of that I can guarantee.
The website has a web cam on the breeding lake and if you hit it about 12.30 midday, the gators are waking and most active before the sun gets too hot.
I can go into detail about this place and tell you so much more but I think that for the sake of keeping this within the realms of readability, I will just leave it as it is with a recommendation from me and a link for those more interested.
I went to Gatorland when I was in Orlando with my ex and his family over Christmas. Admittedly it wasn't one of our first choices in places to go, and went towards the end of the holiday. We mainly went because when we went to a wildlife park, which is meant to be full of alligators, we only saw one, so we went somewhere where we were certain to see some snappers.
The park itself is is set in 110 acres and was founded back in 1949 and is only ten minutes outside Orlando.
When you arrive, the entrance is quite impressive as to get in, you have to go through a giant alligator mouth! We used some money off coupons worth around $2 each. These are widely available, especially if you're staying in International Drive, Orlando, as there are loads of coupon booklets being handed out all over the place. Our coupon also entitled us to a free train ride - we didn't take up this offer though
When you enter the park, you step out onto a wooden platform, and are literally surrounded by hundreds of alligators, basking in the sunshine. It's quite a daunting sight. Especially as you make your way around the board walk. We had loads of gators start swimming towards us looking at us with a kind of "lunch" look in their eyes! You're perfectly safe, as you're surrounded by fencing, but still quite a bizarre feeling.
There are different kinds of gators to see in the part, along with a few crocs too. There's also some "cuddly" creatures there too. One that particularly remember is a black bear, who'd been rescued from a circus or such like.
At various times there are shows put on in the park, from up close and personal encounters to alligator wrestling. The up close ones, involve keepers showing you some of the residents, including poinsonous snakes and spiders. They're very strict on safety, and noone is allowed to move when the rattle snakes come out!
The wrestling wasn't quite what I had in mind. Maybe I've watched one too many movies, but I was expecting a Crocodile Dundee style match with a biggun! But instead, it was one of the little ones - they're ticklish did you know?!
There's also a swamp wak to go around. There's not much there apart from trees and a swamp!
The gift shop is good, and there's a pressed penny machine if you collect them
It doesn't take long to get round the park, and other than the gators, there's very little else to see, so children could get board quite easily. You could probably spend a couple of hours there, but not a full day. Older children probably will think it incredibly dull.
I think it is orth a look, particularly if you end up like we did and didn't see many gators in the wild but want a better look.
We visited Gatorland in early this year when we were staying in Orlando.It is a 110 acre Alligator park and wildlife preserve situated about a 10 minute drive from Orlando on the Orange Blossom Trail. It was foundd by the late Owen Godwin I 1949 and is still privately owned by his family today.
Gatorland makes for a different experience from the Theme parks and is generally a more relaxing half day out. I wouldnt plan on staying all day as you can get around fairly quickly.
The shows start at 9.30 am and apart from one show are repeated throughout the day until 4.30pm
The admission price when we went was £19.95 for a adult and £9.95 for a child, but if you look in one of the many discount books that you can pick up either in your hotel or various other places, you can save about $2.50 each with the coupon.
9.30am Upclose Encounters show - an interactive experience with snakes, insects, birds and animals from all over the world
10.00am Gator Wrestling Show - In the Gator wrestling arena a daredevil wrestles with a 6-8 foot crocodile. Join in if you dare. At the end of the show there is an opportunity for the bravest to have their photo taken astride a 7 to 8 ft alligator. Gave that one a miss!
11.00am Gator Jumparoo show - a show where the alligators are fed chicken (expired ones of course) hung on lines above the water. We were looking forward to this show as we expected hungry alligators to be leaping out of the water and competing with one another for food. But in reality either the alligators were too well fed and not hungry or just too lethargic. Only a couple of them entered the feeding pool and really couldnt be bothered to put on any sort of show (good luck to them). Even dangling the chicken in front of their noses didnt whip up any sort of reaction and they just halfheartedly opened their mouths in the direction of the chicken and didnt care if they missed. Maybe if one of us had fallen in it would have been different!
Gatorland is very geared for children and my teenagers found it a bit too <uncool> they had already been spoilt by the Theme Parks.
One thing that did surprise me is that you could touch a small alligator and expecting it to be hard and tough skinned it was quite a shock to find it was very soft. We all werent too keen on that experience as the alligator had its mouth taped together which although much safer for us did seem cruel.
Other attractions are the petting zoo where you can feed the goats and llamas (you have to buy the food of course), a train ride where you can get off and walk through a natural breeding marsh and you almost feel sorry for the big boy who reputedly ate 5 dogs in his neighbouhood before being caught and bought to Gatorland to save him from the wrath of the residents!
There is also a childrens play area, which we didnt try out, nor did we try out the eatery Pearl's Smokehouse as we had already had a big breakfast at Sizzlers and normally find eating places in parks are too expensive.
A good half day out (if you like alligators).