Have a jawsome day at one of the oldest attractions in Florida
Celebrate 70 years of Gatorland throughout 2019 with a visit to the ‘Alligator Capital of the World’.
One of the oldest attractions in Florida, Gatorland was founded along the Orange Blossom Trail near Kissimmee by Owen Godwin in 1949, and today the site still remains in the hands of the family. Originally set up as the Florida Wildlife Institute, with the aim of letting people get close to reptiles, the site expanded over the years to become attraction that exists today. The 110-acre park and wildlife site is still home to a host of animals, as well as some exciting thrill-seeking experiences; there’s sure to be something for all the family to enjoy!
Make your way past the historic ‘Gator Mouth’ entrance to the park and get up close to alligators and crocodiles – from babies, through to 14ft-long giants! The park is home to more than 2000 American alligators which were once considered an endangered species in the state, and live alongside a host of crocodiles who are often spotted sunning themselves around the side of the lakes – you can tell them apart from the crocs’ pointed snouts!
Did you know… A scene for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was filmed at Gatorland?
Make sure that you pay a visit to the White Gator Swamp, where you will be lucky enough to see the rare leucistic alligators. These white alligators are two of only 12 known to survive in the world, and live alongside the parks three albino alligators – Cottontail, Moonshine and Pearl, who is the oldest of the three and arrived at the park in 2009.
See if you can spot the baby gators – known as grunts – living in the Baby Gator Marsh, which was constructed in 2017. Here, more than 60 young alligators and hatchlings live safely in the protected area, before moving to one of the outdoor pools when they are around 18 months old.
If you are a fan of reptiles, you won’t want to miss the large tortoises plodding around the park. Meet with centenarian Dean, 55-year-old Kendrick and the younger 27-year-old Lucy, the latest tortoise addition to the park! Marvel at the collection of snakes, which are found along the Mile of Monsters along with lizards, scorpions and toads! Face your fears and get even closer to these critters at the Up-Close Encounters Show, which is held several times during the day (check the schedule for up-to-date times), where you can learn about a host of fascinating creatures in Florida and around the world.
“There’s loads to see at the park, we spent all day there.” Sara L
More native animals can be seen in the Panther Springs area of the park, which houses two Florida panthers, siblings Neiko and Lucy, who were born in a rescue centre and moved to Gatorland in 2013. The Bobcat Bayou area is home to two more wild cats – the Florida bobcats, Osceola and Abiaka, who were rescued from captivity in 2014.
If you are a keen birdwatcher, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to start a conversation with the Amazon parrots, macaws and cockatoos at the Parrot Playground! Marvel at the great horned owl Athena or watch as the flamingos wade on Flamingo Island, and birds flock en masse in the breeding marsh to nest near the protection of the alligators! Have your camera at the ready in the Very Merry Aviary – a free-flight area filled with budgies who will happily perch on you and eat from your hand! If you are a keen wildlife photographer, you might especially be interested in the Photography Passes that the site offers, providing early morning and late afternoon access to the park.
Watch in wonder as the animals that you have seen around the park come to the fore at the Gatorland Shows, which are scheduled throughout the day. As well as the up-close encounters that we mentioned earlier, catch the Gator Jumparoo Show where you learn all about alligators and watch them leap four feet or higher from the water! Alligators are again at the centre of the action with the Alligators: Legends of the Swamp display – where a brave keeper takes to the stage alongside a large alligator to demonstrate how the magnificent creatures survive in the wild! You can even book the Meet-a-Gator experience to get up-close with the star of the show afterwards! If you are a reptile enthusiast, or want to work in animal conservation, check out the immersive Trainer-for-a-Day experience. Give us a call on 01892 836822 if you are interested in booking these experiences at Gatorland.
“The shows are great, and the staff are really knowledgeable – well worth a visit.” Peter R
For an extra fee of $10 you can get close to the action in the daily 1pm Adventure Hour trip into the swamp. Take part on a behind-the-scenes tour of the breeding marsh and pose for the camera alongside your snap-happy alligator friends! You can reserve a place for this tour up until 12.30pm, so make sure you don’t arrive too late.
For an after-dark adventure, you might want to consider booking onto the Gator Night Shine – an after-hours special torchlit adventure into the breeding marsh, which comes alive with the gators and other wildlife at night! As spaces on the tour are limited, you’ll have to make a reservation – please contact us for further details.
It isn’t just animals that you can see at the park – there are several additional experiences for thrill-seekers, though these are not included in the entry cost.
The park is home to the ‘Best Zip Line in the USA’, as voted by AOL Travel, the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, which launches you from heights of up to 65ft above the ground, on five zip lines of various lengths! The two-hour experience will let you soar above the park’s reptile residents at speeds of around 30mph. Although there are daily flights, you’ll need to make reservations to ride the zip lines. If you do want to ride the attraction there is no age restriction, but you must be at least 37” tall, weighing no more than 275lb (19.5 stone), wear closed-toe shoes, and no skirts or dresses. Even guests with mobility issues can take part, on the Gator Gauntlet zip line!
Enjoy a wild ride at the all-new attraction to the park – the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure, where you board one of the park’s three 12ft-high off-road vehicles. You’ll be taken into a section of the park where you will see plenty of alligators as you splash through the muddy swamps and past a gator graveyard on an exhilarating 15-minute tour! Make sure you reserve your ride on arrival at the park!
After all that exploring, don’t forget to stop for a very reasonably-priced bite to eat on-site. There are several options; for a light bite the Snack Bar is on hand to cater to all of your needs! Munch on a yummy hot dog, or enjoy nachos and cheese, or maybe the BBQ pork sandwich is your lunch of choice? Check out the menu and see what takes your fancy! Over at Pearl’s Good Eats you can grab a burger or even try out the Gator Nuggets (they aren’t made from on-site gators, so don’t worry!). Why not enjoy an ice cream and watch the world go by? The full menu is listed here.
If you have a sweet tooth, then treat yourself to some handmade fudge from Gator Jake’s Fudge Kitchen. There are also various other sweets available, including a signature chocolate alligator on a stick!
If you plan to visit Gatorland, Debbie’s Villas has a range of ticket options available. General admission to the park can be bought through our website and if you require any other experiences, then please call us on 01892 836822 for prices and full details!
Debbie’s Villas ticket options:
- Gatorland Admission
- Gatorland Trainer-for-a-Day Experience
- Gatorland Night Shine
- Screamin’ Gator Zip Line
If you’ve been to the park before we’d love to hear from you – what was your favourite part of your day here?
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm daily
Address: 14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837
Phone: (407) 855-5496