We were recently down in Orlando for a wedding and the whole time we were there, Ken was constantly checking out even the smallest puddle, hoping to see an alligator.
Alas, there were none to behold, and so, upon reaching our last day down there, and having a few hours to spare between checking out of our hotel & our flight back to New York, Gabby took mercy & generously agreed that we could go and visit the famous Gatorland; just to shut Ken up more than any desire for her to be near large, carnivorous reptiles!
After parking, you know exactly where you are when you pass by the giant alligator mouth right in front of the ticket booth. After taking the obligatory goofy pictures in/on/around these monstrous choppers, you pays your money and you’re in!
There is a temptation, without malice, to liken Gatorland to a kind of Redneck/Hillbilly/Swampland version of Seaworld, but it is so much better, more enjoyable, more organic, and a million times more humane than Seaworld could dream of being. It didn’t seem like any animal was being harmed or abused, in any way at all here.
They start you off gently with you walking above pools of smallish ‘gators, but as you get into the main area of the park, where they do the feeding frenzy shows, you can look down and see some HUUUUUGE creatures. We’re talking Horror Movie huge, in some cases.
Further in, you get the larger ‘show’ pools and some other animal exhibits that are quite interesting. These include:
Giant tortoises, Florida Bobcats, Florida Panthers, White Alligators, Parrots, Macaws, Flamingos, Herons, Egrets
Over in the back you get the zip-line experience, the “up-close” & gator-wrestling areas. And way in the back is a wilder, more jungle-like area which is home to a variety of wildlife that includes snakes & larger alligators, but we didn’t explore back there once Gabby saw the word “snakes” on the sign!!!
Seeing the ‘Gator-Wrestling’ up close was both enlightening and slightly disappointing, and yet – due to the enthusiastic banter of the presenters – still quite entertaining. It was disappointing only in that you get to peek a little ‘behind the curtain’, and see the techniques which make those Posing With A Gator souvenir photos possible. Still great fun, with a slight element of danger…
Get a good spot before the Feeding Time Show, in the center of the park, so you’ll get awesome pics or video of the alligators launching themselves up out of the water in their attempts to snag hunks of raw meat dangled over the pool. The times for the feedings are posted pretty clearly at a few locations in the park, so you can go see something else and still make it back in time.
Overall, this is a fun place to visit for the whole family. It’s entertaining, while having some educational value.
The gift shop on the way out has a staggering range of related souvenirs for you to take home, with quite reasonable pricing overall.
Although Gabby might never wish to set foot in there again, Ken just can’t wait to go back with a longer zoom lens than the one he took that day, and maybe take some 4K video, too!
*but maybe only by Ken!!