If you think you know Gatorland Orlando, think again. One of the first theme parks in Orlando, it was once nothing more than a roadside attraction where tourists could stop and snap a few alligator pictures to bring home and show their friends. However, over the years, it’s grown into so much more. Yes, gator wrestling is still one of the highlights, but a walk through the alligator breeding marsh is just as exciting. Find out why you should add Gatorland Orlando to the itinerary when planning your next Florida vacation.
11 Things You’ll Love About A Visit To Gatorland Orlando
When we recently had the chance to visit Gatorland Orlando, I was excited. We’d been to Orlando many times, but those trips usually involved visits to Disney World, which don’t leave much time for anything else. However, there’s more to a Florida vacation than Disney! I’ve wanted to explore some of the other attractions the city has to offer.
I’ve always been curious about Gatorland. It sounded like a fun way to spend the day. I had a hunch we’d see some alligator wrestling and maybe a few other shows, but there was a lot more to it than I expected. From the wildlife to the splash park, Gatorland offered plenty of things to see and do. These were some of our favorites.
1. Alligator Wrestling
This is what we came to see, and the show didn’t disappoint. It was silly and fun with a touch of hillbilly…exactly what you’d expect. What surprised me was how much we learned about alligators in the process. In fact, throughout the day, I noticed plenty of informative signs around the park, indicating that Gatorland tries to make visits as educational as they are fun. While educational, the signs were written with a humorous, country tone, in keeping with the theme of the park.
2. The Gator Jumparoo Show
The show was a little hokey but that just made it more fun. The premise was that two hillbilly friends were competing for a job at Gatorland and whoever could get a gator to jump highest would be the winner. The banter was entertaining (my 9 year old was giggling the entire time), but the highlight was watching gators as they jumped out of the water to chow down on some chicken.
3. Gatorland Orlando’s Other Residents
One of the biggest surprises was that Gatorland is so much more than just gators. They are the main attraction, of course, but we also saw emus, snakes, giant tortoises, bobcats, flamingos and others.
4. The Breeding Marsh
Walking through the marsh was like taking a hike on a nature trail, just with a lot more nature than we’re used to! Alligators lurked at every turn, and it was fascinating to see them up close and personal. We also came across trees full of nesting birds and the girls were thrilled to see a few fuzzy babies.
TravelingMOM Tip: Be sure to climb the observation towers for fantastic views of the entire marsh.
5. Feeding The Alligators
Who knew that gators liked hot dogs?! The girls had a blast tossing hot dogs into the water to see which alligator could get it first. Just watch out for these creepy looking birds. Apparently they like hot dogs too!
6. The Very Merry Aviary
If you do this with the kids, make sure you shell out the $2 each for the birdfeed on a stick. It’s worth it! As soon as Keira picked up her birdseed, she instantly had some new feathered friends. It’s obvious that these birds aren’t scared of people. They were more than happy to land right on us to chow down on the birdseed. The girls loved it and this was one of their favorite parts of the day.
7. Gatorland Express Train
No theme park trip is complete without a ride aboard the train, right? Gatorland’s train takes you around the park, where you’ll see alligators, crocodiles, deer and lots more. It’s a relatively short ride but it’s fun and the kids loved it.
8. The Screamin’ Gator Zipline
We had planned to ride this but discovered it was not included with the admission price. We decided the extra $15 each wasn’t in the budget. However, it did look like a lot of fun and it’s rated by AOL travel as one of the top 10 zip lines in the worlds. The zipline takes you over hundreds of alligators and crocodiles, and you’ll also get some great views of the park while you’re up there.
9. Allie’s Barnyard
A petting zoo is a petting zoo and this one had all the usual goats and cows. However, my girls can’t get enough of them and it was definitely a highlight.
10. White Gator Swamp
I had never seen a white gator until our visit. It was interesting to see how different they looked from their “average” counterparts. Like they did everywhere else around the park, the Gatorland folks had plenty of signs in place so that we could learn more about them.
12. Gator Gully Splash Park
We had totally underestimated how much there was to see at Gatorland so we chose to skip the splash park. However, this is a perfect way for the kids to cool off after an afternoon in the hot Florida sunshine…just be sure to bring an extra change of clothes.
We found that Gatorland Orlando was a perfect mix of hokey fun and educational elements. It was a great day and is definitely a stop you should consider for your Florida vacation.