I’ve been a regular visitor to Florida since the 80s. This year in March was the first time I’ve been to Gatorland. I guess I had an image of a cheesy, run-down sort of place, struggling to compete with the Disney, Universal and Sea World parks.
The standard Adult entry ticket is US$23.99 + 1.56 tax = 25.55. That ticket doesn’t entitle you to ride the train, zip line, eat/drink, feed the gators nor participate in the gator wrestling show. I found an offer on www.travelzoo.com that was US$49 for two people, with train, lunch voucher, gator chow voucher and wrestling voucher all included. That was the bargain that finally got me to Gatorland – and although things got off to a shaky start it was better than I expected.
Parking was free and only a short walk to the park entrance – contrast that with the US$20 parking fee that is charged by Universal. We’d arrived around lunchtime and so we took our two $10 lunch vouchers and looked for a place to eat. There was only one place called Pearl’s Smokehouse serving fast food from just three outdoor windows. The lines weren’t that long but people were hardly moving. We waited 30 minutes before arriving at the window and discovering the issue – each server was also responsible for preparing the food. The food was okay – nothing special. If you don’t have an all-inclusive deal like ours then I’d strongly recommend you eat before you go. Here’s a picture of Pearl’s Smokehouse:
Having spent almost 45 minutes surrounded by other visitors and their kids, we decided to head for the swamp walk – a quiet boarded walk through a typical Florida swamp and similar to some of our walks through the Everglades. It was pretty good and we started to calm down and enjoy Gatorland.
Here are some pictures:
Then we continued to wander around the main lake. There were hundreds of aligators, plus various types of bird and nests.
Here are some pictures:
Walking along the boardwalk there were some huge bugs flying around. Here’s a video:
Here’s some more video, this time of alligators:
We took the train ride around the park and it was worth doing as we saw parts of the park that are inaccessible on foot.
We walked past the alligator wrestling. It wasn’t a great show and seemed to consist of people sitting on a muzzle-bound, tail-less alligator while photos were taken.
We then picked up our free cup of gator chow – which was actually cut up pieces of hot-dog sausage. The gators weren’t so interested, but there was a giant bird that couldn’t get enough of them:
We didn’t pay extra for the zip line.
I’m guessing we visited for at least three hours and we enjoyed our visit – well apart from the wait for the food.
I probably wouldn’t rush back but I’m glad we went. If you plan to visit, look out for deals on Travelzoo, Groupon or maybe a leaflet in your hotel.
14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, FL 32837
Phone: (407) 855-5496 or (800) 393-5297