on August 12, 2010
With all the lands of Disneyworld, Seaworld, and Universal Studios to visit, it would be easy to overlook a small attraction such as Gatorland. We discovered it has a great deal to offer for a much more reasonable price than that of the big name parks. As it is relatively compact, it is eminently suitable for small children or those with mobility issues. Large areas of the river were cordoned off into fenced pens housing hundreds of alligators. Signs everywhere advised you not to carry children on your shoulders or hold them over the rails. A wide walking path brought one along exhibits of snakes, parrots, and albino alligators. It also led you to the petting area where you could feed the goats and llama. Located on the property is a bird sanctuary and there were hundreds of nesting birds in the trees, many with their fluffy chicks, and others sitting on eggs of various colours. We were told that birds often like to make their nests where alligators congregate as the alligators keep other predators, such as raccoons, away. Alligators, of course, do not climb trees, however they are delighted when one of the chicks lose their balance and fall to the swamp below. Along the bird sanctuary is a boardwalk, which also is one of the entrance points to a covered observation tower. On our visit there we saw a number of photographers with very expensive cameras adding to their collection of bird pictures. Throughout the day three short shows are repeated at regular intervals. We enjoyed the comedy team of Morgan and his partner as they wrestled alligators. Once they were the clear winners in this game, they taped the mouth of one alligator and you could have our picture taking sitting on the back of this huge dangerous beast.Another entertaining comedy act was the gator jumping. You wonder if these guys have missed their calling. . they really were very funny as they tried to entice alligators to jump out of the water for food. Sadly we missed the third show which featured other indigenous animals . . . I bet there would have been a lot of laughs at this one as well.Gatorland’s personnel clearly had several roles, as our alligator wrestler later was our train driver as it made its way around the property. Morgan pointed out highlights and when the train’s wheels started to spin, jumped out and sanded the tracks so they could get a grip and keep on going, à la "the little engine that could".Of course there was a gift shop with tempting souvenirs to bring back for those poor souls left at home. A snack shop offered food to eat and close by you could have your picture taken holding a small alligator (his mouth was taped also) and/or have a snake draped around your neck. While we watched one family doing this, the alligator peed on the one teenage boy—everyone watching thought this was hysterical!There was plenty of shade, but it is Florida and could be hot, so there was a small water play area and misting station. A canopy covering the picnic tables and Adirondack chairs kept the sun out and allowed the adults to rest while kids got soaked!
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