Orlando has Disney, Sea World and Universal and yes they are incredibly awesome in so many ways but Orlando and Florida also have some amazing places to see that you may have never heard of. One of which I took my family to this past weekend…Gatorland. No one gave me anything for free to go. I paid out of pocket because I love exploring all the really cool things to do in Florida.
Just a few minutes from Orlando is Gatorland in Kissimmee, Florida. Much like the name suggests it is a small theme park with…you guessed it gators in it. If you are in Florida and you want to see a modern day dinosaur this is by far the safest way to do it.
It is $24.99 a person 13+ which is in my opinion is a little steep but cheap compared to Disney. I will admit I got in for $9.99 a person for their current Florida resident discount which I feel is more than worth it for that price.
The key is to get to the park right when it opens. Which is actually one of my number one tips when visiting any theme park. That is when things are just opening up and are the least crowded.
We got right there as they were feeding the gators. Which is one of the most amazing things to witness at the park. I am a Florida native and I still find this exciting to watch.
No decoys here that is one freakin huge gator! I have in the past actually gone hunting gators in the wild. Here in Florida you have to have special permits that are distributed through a lottery and unfortunately I did not get the lake I wanted this year so you will have to wait until next year for me to make a post about hunting gators up close and personal.
I also like to check out all the venomous and poisonous snakes found in Florida that are on display. I like to know my enemy. Here is Big Sis enjoying an Indigo snake. The only known snake to eat all venomous and poisonous snakes in Florida. I guess that means if I have to like one snake a little bitty bit it would be this one.
You can see what a majority of Florida actually looks like…swamp.
You can indeed bring a wagon to Gatorland. I use one because I do not own a double jogging stroller and Big Sis can’t walk all day at a theme park because she gets tired. Wagons are a big no at Disney and totally not allowed there.
Thank goodness for the nice bridge. I have walked swamps in Florida before and I am truly terrified of snakes.
For good reason because we saw one in the wild one foot from the bridge…a juvenile water moccasin. I nearly had a heart attack when Big Sis wanted to get a closer look.
Please take note of this when visiting Florida: Almost every theme park or zoo has a splash pad or fountain for kids to play in so bring your kids a swim suit! Also please put water shoes on your kids. In the hour or so we were at the splash pad I saw no less than a dozen children take nasty spills on the ground because it gets super slippery. Never go to a splash zone without WATER SHOES.
Gatorland was no exception to the splash pad craze sweeping the state. I always enjoy taking my kids to cool off. These areas are usually open and used all year since our weather is pretty awesome.
The cool thing about visiting in spring was there was dozens of nests with baby birds in them. Super adorable.
Of course you can also touch a snake, hold a baby alligator, hold a snake, sit on top of an actual live alligator (that has its mouth taped up) all for a nominal fee. The fees were reasonable but I have no desire to touch any of those things. Been there and done that. They do have some seriously cool zip lines I would love to try….hopefully I will get to one day. We did pay a dollar to feed some little birds. We also paid extra to ride the train that was actually much better than other small trains I have been on. You can also pay money to actually feed the alligators yourself.
That is the super rare white alligator. Not an albino alligator but both do exist. This white alligator is super rare so it was cool to see one up close.
The food prices were fine but the food is not very good. Gatorland definitely has that old school theme park feel and I loved every minute of it.
If you are in Orlando for 3-4 days stick to the big theme parks. If you are in town for a week and you want to try something totally different then you should definitely check out Gatorland. I enjoyed going when I was a young kid and my whole family had a blast this weekend and Big Sis loved learning more about all the local wildlife found in Florida.