Florida Guide > Other Parks
Do you know the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? Want to find out?
At “Gatorland”, you can experience these amazing creatures up close. We visited it on our last trip to Orlando, and liked it so much we took out a yearly membership…I guess that means that we will be going back again.
There is plenty to see - from Alligator Island to the Flamingo Lagoon and the large breeding marsh. The park is filled with alligators and crocodiles, some of which have been rescued and re-homed after becoming a threat to the local residents and their pets. There is also a wide variety of other animals on display, from snakes to giant tortoises and even an aviary of exotic birds.
“Gatorland” advertises as being “Orlando’s Best Half Day Attraction”, so you do not need to set aside a full day. We decided to have a relaxing morning and then head off after lunch. We had plenty of time to explore, and we saw 3 out of the 4 shows on offer.
There are 4 main shows to take in on your visit. Our favourite was the “Gator Jumparoo” – this involved alligators and crocodiles jumping up out of the water for food on a wire! The dead chickens being ripped apart was a little gruesome, but it was a superb display of the power and speed that these animals possess.
Our next stop was the alligator wrestling show! The trainers (correct name “Gator Wranglers”) demonstrated how to safely catch (!) an alligator, before climbing on to its back and giving a talk. We could not decide if this was incredibly brave or just plain daft! They also offer a chance for the children in the audience to have their photograph taken astride the captive alligator – most of the kids were clamouring to have a go, most of the parents looked less than keen!
The Up-close Animal Encounters Show was fascinating and also educational. Our children were particularly taken by the snakes and the spiders (some of which were huge!). It is not just native Floridian wildlife that is on show, but a variety from around the world. The impression given was that they feature different creatures daily, so the show is never quite the same from one day to the next.
We missed out on the Jungle Crocs show, as little people were getting tired, but I am sure that we will catch it on our next visit!
For anyone travelling with younger children – there is an area called “Lilly’s Pad”. Great fun, with slides and towers, but you will need to take a change of clothes, or be really sensible and take a swimming costume, as there are water jets for the kids to run in and out of. There is also a petting zoo called “Allie’s Barnyard” – it is quite small, but our kids enjoyed it nonetheless.
The swamp boardwalk is not to be missed. It was amazing how quickly the sounds from the park disappeared, and you felt like you had entered a completely different world. A return to nature - very peaceful – perhaps an insight into how Florida used to look.
We finished off our day with a ride on the park train. It takes you behind the scenes and although the running commentary from the driver became a little monotonous after a while, it did throw up a few interesting facts and figures along the way.
Be warned – to exit the park, you have to walk through the gift shop. It is very well stocked with all the usual souvenirs, and a fudge counter, which is extremely difficult to ignore!
“Gatorland” is located at 14501 Orange Blossom Trail (SR441), just to the south of Orlando itself. The park was open from 9am to 6pm when we visited (Easter 2004), and it cost $19.95 for adults (13 and over); $9.95 for children aged 3 to 12; and under 3’s got in for free. Remember, you need to add tax to these prices, but still good value for money and well worth a visit.
For more information, visit their website at www.Gatorland.com or give them a call once you are in Florida on (407) 855 5496.
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