Gatorland: For the Animal Loving Adventurer

2014-04-10 04.16.57 amAs someone who had no interest in alligators prior to my trip to Kissimmee, Florida, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed spending time at the Alligator Capital of the World: Gatorland. A privately owned 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve, Gatorland is so much more than just observing alligators, despite the reptile’s lending their name and presence to the parks. Here, guests can take part in one of a kind animal shows, feed the local ‘pets’ at the petting zoo, go for an educational stroll through the natural alligator breeding marsh or get the adrenaline racing with the thrilling Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. With these and other attraction options, Gatorland truly is a magical place where families can have affordable fun while creating once in a lifetime memories. 

I had previously heard of Gatorland through searches of ‘Top Attractions in Orlando,’ of which this family run theme park won the title of Orlando’s Best Half Day Attraction, however a theme park revolving around alligators seemed repetitive and not worth precious vacation time. Within minutes of arriving however, my perceptions of Gatorland almost simultaneously adapted, shifting from ‘what is there to do here?’ to ‘how are we going to see everything in only one afternoon!?!” The answer was: we won’t; there was genuinely so much to see and take part in, that Gatorland should have rather boasted a title of Orlando’s Best Low-Thrills Attraction, as while it is slower-paced than competitive theme parks, the entertainment level is still supreme and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities here make Gatorland a must-visit location in Florida.

10149318_813115348490_1940342011_nGuests first catch a glimpse of the fun to come, when greeted by a large exaggerated alligator mouth by the entrance. Our group loves taking pictures, and we could have easily have spent a half hour taking photos here, if it worn’t for our Experience Kissimmee guides, Rochelle and Nori letting us know that there would be assigned time upon leaving to take group shots. Little did we know that the entrance would just be the start of our photo-taking haven inside!

10151728_812953338160_374109597_nOnce in, we were whisked away to begin our Gatorland day with their Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. The two hour adventure takes guests along 1,200 feet of high flying, heart pounding zip lines that stand over seven stories tall, and lets guests glide over Cuban and Nile crocodiles as well as over thirty giant alligators who make the Alligator Breeding Marsh their home. I had zip lined before and always had an incredible time, but this was my first time soaring from such a high altitude and at such fast speeds.

DSC_0189Promoted as one of the fastest and tallest zip lines anywhere, guests actually descend from as high up as 65 feet (or 6.5 stories high) and fly at speeds averaging of 30 miles per hour! The confidence I had quickly dissipated once I stood over the launch zone of our first zip line, but knowing how many safety precautions were taken for my leap, and having amazingly reassuring guides by my side, I was able to jump off and enjoy some of the most incredible and awe-inspiring views of the South Orange Blossom Trail. The zip line adventure was so much fun, and I’m glad that the tour included a photographer taking pictures, so that we could focus on staying safe for the other guests and animals, and have beautiful pictures to go through after. 

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2014-04-10 06.26.02 pmFollowing our zip lining experience, Gatorland kept our adrenaline racing by letting us take part in their Trainer for a Day program. Providing a glimpse into what it takes to work with and around dangerous animals, we were able to learn first hand what it’s like to be a variety of the Gatorland members ranging from tarantulas and scorpions to snakes and white alligators! 

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2014-04-10 06.28.00 pmThe entire experience seemed so surreal, as you are able to pose only feet away from deadly alligators (although they were not vicious around us) and take your chance with poisonous reptiles an creepy crawlers. The trainer tour was extremely educational and provided many of us with an opportunity that we would never be able to take on otherwise. For guests who enjoy getting up close to a variety of exotic animals, this tour is a must!

2014-04-10 04.15.45 amFinally, no trip to Gatorland would be complete without taking on alligators at the Gator Wrestling Arena! Included with the Trainer for a day program and a $10 donation otherwise, guests can work with one of Gatorland’s personal animal trainers to ‘wrestle’ with alligators and take a picture with these adorable reptiles. As an animal lover, I was certainly cautious about if this program would be taking the alligator’s well-being into account, but the trainers make sure that the reptiles are taken care of with each guest, and limit the amount of human interaction that guests can have with the animals to ensure that they stay happy and calm during the photo op. 

2014-04-10 04.11.57 amMy trainer had fun with me, pretending that the tape came off of the alligator’s mouth as I was getting ready to say ‘hello’ but the joke quickly turned into a fun laugh and made for one of my favorite pictures from the trip. A bonus to this opportunity, is that all funds raised from the wrestling goes towards alligator conservation and providing food for these cute reptiles. Since the American Alligators were once endangered and on the brink of extinction, it feels great to contribute to helping their population thrive in a way that makes for a great conversation starter later on.

10157056_813115168850_641510145_nIn all, there is just so much to do at Gatorland, it’s hard to fit everything into one afternoon. With three shows, attractions, and various animals to have up-close encounters with, Gatorland certainly ranks at the top of my list for mandatory must-visit locations in the greater Orlando area, and will forever hold a special spot in my heart for the amazing time I had at their family run theme park. All of the staff members genuinely love their job and enjoy sharing stories about their relationships with the animals and you feel a sense of ‘home’ on their property, even if you’re across the country. There truly is something special about this place, and it makes perfect sense why they gained the honor of Orlando’s Best Half Day Attraction. Now, if only they could gain a wider variety of awards as well, perhaps America’s Best Animal Theme Park. The title certainly would be earned. 

Experience Kissimmee provided me with complimentary admission to Gatorland to experience all that this family friendly theme park has to offer, but as always, all opinions remain my own.

38 thoughts on “Gatorland: For the Animal Loving Adventurer”

  1. WOW– that looks like a lot of fun! We were just in Florida but didn’t have time to go to Gatorland. thanks for the review- we will do that next time we are there!

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  2. My oldest loves alligators, so he would freak out if we were ever able to visit there! I’ll have to keep it in mind!

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  3. Looks like you had a lot of fun! I don’t know if I would have went that close to a gator but zip lining over them I might could do. lol

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  4. We are heading to Orlando in July, and we might have to try this out. I’ve always been fascinated with gators, especially anytime we are down there.

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  5. This is so cool!! I love the photos! My son would love this for sure! We are heading to FL this summer – I will have to see about getting this on our to do list! :)

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  6. Wow! What an adventure packed day! If we ever make it to Florida, we will definitely put Gatorland on our must-see list, it looks like such a fun time!

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  7. Ohhh, I’d have a heart attack! I am SO not a big/reptile/spider person. At. All. I know my guys would love to visit there and I’m sure we will one day. We’re dying to go to Fl.

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  8. Gatorland looks like such a fun place to visit! You are so brave for getting up close and personal with those critters :)

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  9. All those critters! :) My daughter would love Gatorland. I’d have to drag her out when it was time to go, that’s her favorite kind of thing. :)

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  10. Woo hoo! Gator Land! I went there before they had the ropes course (a few years ago). We had a great time. Sometimes it’s fun to just appreciate the cheesy Florida attractions that we have!

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  11. I have never heard of Gatorland before – at least that I remember – but it looks really fun! I will definitely have to keep it in mind when we are down there next. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. This place looks super cool! I think I would have just as much fun as the kiddos. I wish we lived closer to Orlando.

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  13. My boys would DIE! They LOVE that show Gator Boys and would love to get to a place like that to see the gators up close and personal.

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  14. I want to do the zip line! That would be so much fun! As a native Floridian, gators are just gators. Kinda like moose for northerners in Washington and Alaska. I know not to feed the gators, and to keep a wide, very wide, berth when it comes to them.

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  15. I was invited on that trip! My son had his English exams so I had to say no for now. And I hope I can in the future because of all the amazing happenings in Kissimmee! Butt I would hate to lose a wrestling match with a gator!

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  16. Oh my gosh… you are one brave woman. I wouldn’t go near that snake. I would have been in the next county. Kudos to you!!

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  17. After reading so much about it, Gatorland is on my “to visit” places in Florida the next time we are there. And I am definitely getting a picture with a gator!

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  18. I can’t believe I have never heard or been to Gatorland! We live about 4 hours from Orlando and visit often to go to the theme parks. This would be so much fun for our next trip this year!

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