If you’re planning for a unique experience in Orlando, Florida, and If you’re a big fan of alligators, and its bigger cousins the crocodiles to a lesser extent, then here’s a theme park just for you! Surprised that such a place exists? Then read on to find out more about Gatorland Orlando!
If you’ve never heard of Gatorland Orlando, then you’re in for a surprise because, despite the fact that it’s not as the world popular like Disney Orlando or Universal Studios, Gatorland has its own unique theme that makes them stand out from the other theme parks in Orlando, Florida.
If you’re curious to check out Gatorland Orlando, getting yourself familiar with the park as you prepare to embark on a trip is a little tricky because you’re learning about a new place that not many people, especially those living outside the country, know. So sit back and read on everything you need to know about Gatorland, how to prepare a trip to Gatorland, and what you can expect from a gator-themed park.
Getting to know Gatorland Orlando
The park was first opened in 1949 by Owen Godwin, who used a large part of his family’s private land that was previously used for cattle and ranchers, into a large theme park. He did so because he wanted Gatorland Orlando to be the “Alligator Capital of the World.” And indeed it is, with thousands of alligators and crocodiles in habitats, a breeding marsh where guests can see these reptiles especially during mating season, an observation tower, reptile shows, a petting zoo, swamp walk, an aviary for bird lovers, and even educational programs.
The Wildlife Attractions
One of its oldest and its more iconic attractions is a train called the Gatorland Express, or previously known as Ol’ Iron Horse Express. First opened in 1961, it was originally built by the Allan Herschell Company. Many believe it to be the oldest amusement attraction in Central Florida. Unfortunately, with age, everything eventually comes to an end. And in 2000, the original locomotive was retired and put on display, but its newer model built and donated by Train Rides Unlimited still runs to this day. This new model, as it turns out, is the very same one you would see at the Green Meadows Petting Farm. On the flip side, you would need to pay an additional fee in order to ride the express.
For a more thrilling experience, a new attraction was introduced into the park in 2011 – a zip line ride. This zip line stretches across a pool of alligators, which then goes further and over several other attractions. The zip line ride is 1,200 feet long, several stories high, This is definitely a great way to get noticed! It got even better in 2016 when Gatorland made the zip line accessible for people in wheelchairs.
Lastly, the center of the park itself, Gator Spot. Here is where guests can meet the alligators, where they can feed them and even take photos with them. It opened at Fun Spot America Theme Parks on May 11, 2015. This new addition allowed Gatorland to extend their brand, meaning more visitors will be able to experience what Gatorland has to offer. And if you can, why take some photos with the star of the Gator Spot, a leucistic blue-eyed alligator named Bouya?
Gatorland Orlando has many different restaurants that you can go have a food trip at, all serving all-American favorites, below is a complete list of restaurants you can find.
Opened in 1991 this restaurant immediately became a favorite for Gatorland’s visitors. Everything you’d expect Americans would love is right there, from hamburgers, hotdogs, pulled pork sandwiches, ice cream, and so much more. But the main feature of this restaurant is the fried gator nuggets. Made from gator meat, and not the ones used for the park itself, guests just simply love its crispiness and juiciness! You can find Pearl’s Steakhouse near the World Famous Gator Wreslin’ Arena and is open 24/7.
One of Gatorland’s older eating joints currently available. Opened in 1965, the Gatorland Snack Bar as it has become known has provided hungry guests with an array of delicious Southern delicacies 24/7. And it may be called a snack bar, but its food is sure to sate the hunger of even the pickiest eaters. Another feature the Snackbar has over the other dining places is that it offers a Kids Meal for the kids, which mainly comprises of either a hotdog or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Other Kids Meal includes cookies, goldfish crackers, and drinks.
If you’re up for something sweet, this little stand offers the best fudge you can find in Gatorland Orlando. Owned by a man named Derek Keleghan, this individual from Ireland brings delicious fudge all made with the freshest ingredients. You can also find 10 other varieties of flavors of fudge to choose from like chocolate, chocolate pecan, chocolate caramel, rocky road, oreo, maple pecan, praline, chocolate peanut butter, and just plain old peanut butter! Even more, Derek makes his own caramel and candies, chocolate and caramel apples, chocolate dipped marshmallows, pretzels glazed in chocolate, and his most popular creation, the chocolate alligator on a stick!
Not up for eating but would rather have a cold drink during a warm day? The general store has it all just for you. Located near the Gator Gully Splash Park, this little country store sells not just cold drinks, but also gifts and ice cream bars. Once you buy your drink and/or ice cream bar, you can go enjoy the day on the store’s patio, a perfect spot to relax and cool off. Also, note that the General Store serves drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Something to perk up your day featuring a variety of beverages, from regular coffee to tea, fruit smoothies and tea. If you’re not hungry for snacks but thirsty for some coffee, this place is for you. This is located next to the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line Depot.
What else is there to do for friends, family, or groups of large people?
Now, once the day is over, you would think you can just simply get out and go home, right? Gatorland can host a variety of events for you, your friends and your family, or even for your co-workers! From birthday parties to corporate events, camping, field trips, Orlando Lake Tours, and even off-property events!
For birthday parties, when you decide to host a birthday party for your child at Gatorland, you’ll get the following benefits:
- Admission for up to 15 guests (Ages 2 and under free)
- Backstage tour with one of their World Famous Gator Wrestlers
- Two hours at the Gatorland Party Pavilion
- 8×10 Party Photo, as well as a “Big Al” Photo location
- A photo opportunity of 45 minutes with the animal program
- Unlimited train rides
- An Annual Pass for the birthday child
- Downloadable party invitations
And if you decide to hold a corporate event in Gatorland Orlando, you’ll get 700 square feet of meeting space and over 1200 security guards for better protection. Event types include a regular BBQ event or a formal event. Of course, these events can be customized further, with options including catering, free park admission, zipline tours, and behind-the-scenes tours.
Are you a teacher or a principal who wants to plan a day for students to have a great time at Gatorland Orlando? Then you can let them experience what it’s like to get up and close with Gatorland’s reptiles and other animals, which are both educational and makes for a unique experience to bond with animals! For further planning, you can contact group sales, as well as to learn more about the different options to further enhance the trip, such as free parking spaces and student discounts.
On the other hand, if you just want to introduce someone to experience the spirit of what makes Gatorland Orlando what it is, then why not introduce them to Gatorland’s featured creatures, the American Alligator? Gator wranglers will teach them everything about American Alligators, as well as letting them touch and pet them, and even take photographs with them. The complete packages are as follows:
- A 30-minute animal encounter with an American Alligator, Python or other specified critters
- A Hands-on Educational program
- Guests will get to see the world famous Gator Wrestlin’ Show
- Lessons on gator and snake Safety
- And even convention Meet-&-Greet Services
Are you with the boy scouts and want to give them something to better experience the wild while letting them have fun at Gatorland Orlando? You and your group can work to earn that extra badge, the Gator Safety Activity Badge, as they interact with these scaled critters, and you can get the following benefits for this program:
- Free admission to Gatorland Orlando
- A 15-minute meet-&-greet with an alligator and other animals
- Gatorland Scavenger Hunt and Activity Sheet
- Scouts will get to earn their Gator Safety Scout Patch
- Meal options are also available
Whether you’re a company, a small business, or even a group of people who want to do a little team building session at Gatorland Orlando, then they have you covered, too! Because they believe a stronger bond between teammates can be achieved with the Gator Zip Line, which is up to seven stories tall with 1200 feet of zip line, people can feel what it’s like to soar through the air as they work to strengthen their bonds, combined with Gatorland’s state-of-the-art meeting amenities at the Crocodile Conference Room that holds up to 40 people, different meal options, seating options, as well as different team building events such as alligator and encounters, scavenger hunts, and so much more.
So now you must be asking yourself, “Sounds great! Where anything else?” If you want to fully experience what Gatorland has to offer, but want to save some money, then the Gatorland Grun Package is just the one for you. You can save up to 20% off on their most popular attractions! The Gatorland Grunt Package includes the following:
- Single day admission to Gatorland.
- Our Rookie Wrestin’ Experience where you get to step onto the sand at the world famous Gator Wrestlin’ Arena and feel the power of one of the most feared creatures in the world. A $10 value. (Photo not included).
- Unlimited train rides on the Gatorland Express train throughout the park! A $2 value.
- Gator Chow! – Gatorland is the only safe place to see an alligator, and you can too with our Gator Chow, included in the Gatorland Grunt Package. A $3 value.
- Adult price – $33.99 plus tax.
- Child price – 26.99 plus tax.
How can I book a ticket?
Thinking of booking a ticket as part of your Pre Florida Checklist? Gatorland Orlando offers many different tickets, each with their own different price.
Single day admissions depend on the day, but as of September 2017, an Adult Grunt Package costs $33.99 per day, a Child Grunt Package costs $26.99 per day, an Adult admission costs $23.99 per day, and a child admission fee costs $15.99 per day.
Now, as for the different rides, each ticket has a different price depending on the month just like the admission fees above. First, the Zip Line admissions, which is at $69.99 as of September 2017, the Gatorland Express is currently set at $2 per head but with unlimited use, the Trainer for a Day ticket is set at $139.99 per head and the Night Shine ticket at $24.99 per head. For annual passes, per head, adults are $39.99, children $27.99, and seniors at $36.99.
Gatorland Florida may not be the most well-known theme park worldwide, but the fact that they offer their own unique experiences to guests in their attractions and their animal encounter activities, you’ll definitely be happy to get to know alligators, crocodiles, and other animals more once you visit Gatorland Florida. After all, what other adventure theme park can let you get close with critters that you normally don’t encounter every day? So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets and get ready for an experience of a lifetime!