Gatorland - A Great Half Day Out

Florida Guide > Other Activities

Alligators! Is there anyone who doesn’t find these scaly, prehistoric looking creatures from the deep fascinating?

Most people and I include myself as one of them just cannot get enough of them.

If you stay in a villa with a lake close by-there’s a big chance that there will be at least one residing there (they are only removed when they start to reach 5 or 6 feet in length or are becoming a nuisance. )

So where better to see them and find out all about them –even wrestle one of them-than Gatorland?

You cannot miss Gatorland at the bottom section of the Orange Blossom Trail-as it’s entrance is a huge, gaping alligator mouth through which you enter into the alligator’s kingdom. Gatorland suffered a very bad fire in November 2006 and most of the shop was destroyed but I was assured that they lost only a few animals-mainly one snake and a few insects. The ‘gator jaws were saved and until it is restored to it’s original splendour visitors are asked to use a side entrance.

This is a family owned theme park and wildlife preserve has been there since 1949 and the owners have worked hard over the last 10 years to develop the park and add more attractions and animals. It’s billed as a half day attraction but there’s no hurry you can just take your time and go at your own pace.

First of all there are several different alligator pools where you can observe these magnificent creatures, read about their habitat and lifestyles and ask all the questions you want to their keepers. At certain times of the day they have feeding times when the alligators are tempted to jump for pieces of uncooked chicken. They jump higher in hotter weather-being cold blooded they are a bit more dopey and drowsy in colder weather. Alligators are naturally timid and shy away from humans. However if you are lucky/unlucky enough to have one in the lake near your villa you must not feed it. Feeding reduces their fear of people and they then become aggressive. An aggressive alligator is a dangerous alligator and the sad thing is that it will become a nuisance and will have to be shot. When they become less timid small children and pets are then vulnerable and you cannot have that in the villa communities.

As well as the jumparoo, there is also a chance to wrestle an alligator and to have an encounter up close with some baby ones, some snakes, spiders etc.

As Gatorland has expanded over the years it acquired more land, giving the gators more space in which to live and breed. Then hundreds of rooks took up residence along the trees lining the boardwalk that snakes through the Florida swamps making it the biggest rookery in central Florida.

In 1997 a kiddie area was opened full of interactive and educational exhibits. There’s a water jet park, jungle gym, a small animal petting area and lovely colourful lorikeets that come and perch on you while you feed them.

For just $20 for adults and $13 for kids it’s a fantastic day out-especially for kids who are learning while they have fun which is the best way to learn.

It’s open 9am to 6pm every day.

It’s also very wheelchair accessible, the entrance is not far from the car park. There is a toilet-just on a very hot day there’s not a lot of air conditioned places to get out of the heat.

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