by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 29, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: activity, Albuquerque, destination, family travel, Hershey, Kate Hamman, offbeat travel, Orlando, Pigeon Forge, road trip, San Jose, Santa Claus, Spring Green, student travel, theme park, vacation package.


Orlando, Florida, is not only home to a friendly mouse, but alligators live there as well, and Gatorland is the place to visit them. The park has been wowing guests, young and old, for more than half a century with its up-close-and-personal alligator shows and activities. Within the 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve, visitors can tour a petting zoo, an aviary, and a breeding marsh.

The Gatorland Express is an interactive train ride that carries passengers to the south end of the park, where they can witness one of the most popular reptilian shows, Gator Wrestlin', in which gator wranglers wrestle six- to eight-foot alligators. The park also offers daily performances of Gator Jumparoo, in which alligators jump at least four to five feet out of the water to retrieve food, and Upclose Encounters, in which visitors meet both native and exotic creatures.


For those looking for something a little more daring, the park also offers the Trainer-for-a-Day program, allowing people to work with live alligators. The park is also now offering the Gator Night Shine Tour, during which visitors take a tour of the breeding marsh in the dark, with only a flashlight and hot dogs as protection. Advance reservations are required.

Single-day admission to Gatorland is $20 for adults, but discounts are available for senior citizens and AAA members, as well as online and in most tourist publications. Package deals are also available at the admissions area of the park. The park is the most crowded from 11 a.m. to close. Visitors who arrive before that time will have free reign of the park. Michelle Harris, a Gatorland spokesperson, states, "We recommend that whatever time you visit, please allow roughly four hours to see and enjoy all that we have available." For further information, visit Gatorland's website.

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