Between Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World, There’s surely no shortage of attractions in the Orlando, Florida area. However, one that you may not have heard of yet is Gatorland, a 110-acre wildlife preserve and theme park dedicated to those iconic Floridian creatures, including four rare “white” leucistic alligators. The park opened its doors in 1949, and has remained family-owned ever since.
Brave souls can get up close and personal with the gators through the Trainer for a Day program, or just explore their adventurous side with a zip line ride. You can also experience the wrath of these beasts at the Rookie Wrestling ring, which allows you to manhandle a life-sized replica of the reptile (and take advantage of the perfect photo op).
Thrill-seekers who want to take things to the next level should check out Gator Night Shine, a nighttime tour that takes you through the Alligator Breeding Marsh with only the aid of a flashlight to illuminate your way. While it’s not for the faint of heart, it’s an appropriate and memorable experience for all ages.
In addition to all of the activities, you can also take in a variety of live entertainment at Gatorland. There’s the Gator Jumparoo Show, which features some of the largest gators leaping out of the water to snatch their food. There’s also the REAL wrestling show, where trained professionals show off their skills (and bravery) with the scaly, scary animals.
Should you work up an appetite after all of that excitement, Gatorland has plenty of choices for chompin’. There’s family-friendly diner Pearl’s Smokehouse, plus a coffee shop, snack bar, fudge kitchen, and a general store. And don’t forget to pick up a souvenir at the gift shop before you go.
Gatorland offers free parking, is open daily from 10am-5pm (rain or shine), and is open on holidays as well. It’s only 15-20 minutes from Orlando’s major theme parks, making it easy to visit and to find accommodations in the area.