Gators Galore and More at Gatorland – Orlando, Florida

Jocelyn Murray March 5, 2013 No Comments

Crawling Alligators Gatorland Orlando Florida

Gators crawling over, under and around each other at Gatorland

Sharp teeth, claws, bony plates, and tough jaws: Alligators are living fossils that date back about 200 million years to the Cretaceous period, when the Earth was a swampy expanse of forming continents and muggy weather, and where dinosaurs and other animal life thrived among the dense forests and thick vegetation that grew in a wild and unruly mass. They are prehistoric creatures living among us. Walking, swimming, sunning, or devouring their prey.

Alligators Gatorland Orlando Florida

cold-blooded carnivores dare to stare with an unflinching glare

These carnivores—with their webbed toes and long nose—stare with an unflinching glare, keeping one transfixed by their prehistoric magnificence. They are distantly related to such primeval predators as Deinosuchus and Sarcosuchus, both of whose jaws alone exceeded the length of a grown man, and struck a terrible fear into their prey, as they surged out of the murky waters with startling speed, only to clamp their vice-like jaws on unsuspecting passersby, then drag them back into those shadowy depths to drown and dine on their fresh catch of the day.

Gatorland bridge path

Meandering paths overlooking lush marshlands offer tranquil views of alligators and other wildlife at Gatorland

The name alligator is a derivative of the Spanish words el lagarto meaning “the lizard.” And they do certainly look like giant lizards. When watching these amazing creatures up close—with their huge spiked tails like that of fiery dragons from mythical lands of long ago—one can almost imagine what it might have been like to stand before a dinosaur. Reading about them is one thing. But seeing them in all their armored flesh is quite another. And despite one’s ambivalent affections for these awesome beasts, one cannot help feeling a sense of wonder for these beings that share our diverse planet.


Alligator facts

Turtle and Alligator, Gatorland Florida

A brave turtle hitching a ride on an alligator’s back

In the wild, alligators can live between 35-50 years. They grow to an average of 10-15 feet in length, and can weigh over 1,000 pounds. These members of the Crocodilian order have about 75 teeth, and feed on fish, turtles, birds, deer, and other mammals and reptiles. Their powerful bite can crush through a car. But once their formidable jaws are closed, it is much harder for them to open them. That is because the muscle groups in charge of opening them are far weaker.



Gatorland Grounds, Orlando Florida

The grounds at this 110-acre park are beautiful

Gatorland is home to these cold-blooded celebrities. This is the place to get an up-close and personal view of them in all their fearsome majesty. Once considered an endangered species, the American alligators now thrive in the warm wetlands of the southeastern United States.

Gatorland Parrot

Gatorland is home to a variety of other animals too, like this parrot

Gatorland is a wonderful place to see these amazing animals up close. Visitors can also see crocodiles, giant tortoises, Burmese pythons, sandhill cranes, owls, parrots, flamingos, rare white leucistic alligators and more. There is a children’s playground, a petting zoo with barnyard buddies, a walk-through aviary, and a host of exciting animal shows, tours and close encounters. And for those fearless souls in search of their next thrill, there is ziplining along 1,200 feet of stunning views above the trees of the park.


Gatorland Train

A train ride, exciting shows, close encounters, a petting zoo, ziplining and other adventures await

For those who prefer tamer adventures, guests can enjoy the train ride that tours the park’s grounds, or walk along meandering paths through lush marshlands teeming with vegetation. These delightful strolls afford some of the most beautiful vistas of the park and its reptilian inhabitants that glide through the dark waters, blending in with their mottled leathery skin, and half-mast eyes that seem oblivious to the long-legged birds picking their way through the emerald waters, or the insects that flutter and buzz in the lazy heat of the day.

Gatorland Children's Playground

The Children’s Playground is lots of fun

There is plenty at Gatorland to keep the whole family entertained, while learning about the spectacular animal species that live there. And if seeing all those gators stimulates an appetite, visitors can fill up at the park diner, or get something at one of the snack bars or concession stands that include such tempting fare as handmade fudge, caramel apples, chocolates, candies and more. A gift shop brimming with gator-themed souvenirs, among other things, makes for fun browsing on the way out of the park. There are also plenty of photo opportunities with the local gators so guests can take home the memories.

This 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve is known as the “Alligator Capital of the World.” It makes for an unforgettable visit where guests will walk away with a far greater respect and appreciation for these exceptional animals. But more than anything else, it is an exciting opportunity to gaze into the prehistory that continues to live and breathe under the evolved crocodilian order, allowing us to behold these often feared reptiles that conjure images of great dinosaurs from long, long ago.

Open daily from 10am – 5pm.  Address: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, Florida 32837.  Phone: (407)855-5496

avatarAbout the Author:

Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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