Gatorland is an incredibly unique place. We chose to visit Gatorland because we love animals and wanted to work in visiting some during our stay in Orlando. We did not know what to make of Gatorland and were unsure what to expect.
We arrived just as the park opened at 9am, and there was only one other family there in front of us. We used a coupon we found at the discount rack in our hotel for $2.50 off the price of the adult tickets. Once you enter the park, you are standing on a large deck that winds about over the water. The eyes of gators can be seen all over the water. They have several smaller species of turtles and crocodiles in tanks, which you can lean over. Many just spend the day lying in the sun. There is a booth where you can buy packs of hot dogs to feed the gators. We purchased two packs for $5. To feed the gators, break the hot dog into thirds and throw the piece into the water right next to their eye. Since their eyes are on the side of their head, they cannot see if you toss some food into the water in front of them. When you throw it next to their eye, throw it hard enough to make a splash. Their reaction is to turn their head and grab whatever just fell into the water next to them.
Four shows are offered throughout the day: Gator Jumparoo, Gator Wrestlin’, Jungle Crocs, and Upclose Encounters. We watched three of the shows, and each one lasted about 15 minutes. Upclose Encounters allows you to view different creatures from around the world. During our show, we saw a scorpion and rattlesnake and I was called as part of the show with four other visitors, and they brought out a huge python for us to hold. During Gator Wrestlin’, the professional gator wranglers work with about 6-foot gators by hand. They do all sorts of tricks with the gator, such as holding the gator’s mouth open with the wrangler’s chin. At the end of the show, they allow the children to sit on the back of a gator and get their picture taken for $10. The gator’s mouth is taped shut and the wrangler stays with the child and teaches them what to do. During the Gator Jumparoo, they feed gators whole chickens and try to get them to jump out of the water. Gators come in from all over the park, and it is quite a sight to see.
We enjoyed the train ride around the park as well. You can sample gator meat by purchasing gator nuggets and gator ribs at the shack shop on the premises. We purchased a sampler for about $7. The gift shop is filled with all sorts of gator items, including the traditional stuffed animals and other souvenirs. But you can also purchase rare gator wallets and other high-priced items.