First opened in 1949, Gatorland theme park and wildlife preserve has grown to become one of Florida’s most enduringly popular attractions, offering the chance to get up close and personal with alligators and crocodiles of all sizes. In this edition of Plan Your Trip, we’ll help you organise your Gatorland visit, including useful directions, tour tips and ticket options.
The self-proclaimed ‘Alligator Capital of The World”, Gatorland provides a unique alternative to the larger and better known theme parks found in Florida. Created by the late Owen Godwin at the tail-end (pun intended!) of the 1940s, and still privately owned by his family today, the 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve, combines “Old Florida” charm with enthralling exhibits and entertainment.
The centrepiece attraction is undoubtedly the thousands of alligators and crocodiles that call Gatorland home, including among them four extremely rare leucistic “white” alligators that captivate all who see them. There’s also a variety of other attractions, including a free-flight aviary, a petting zoo, thrilling animal shows, a natural alligator breeding marsh, and a Screamin’ Gator Zip Line.
But it is perhaps the chance to try out hands-on activities with these majestic creatures that truly makes Gatorland stand out from the crowd. Among the opportunities include animal feeding at the petting zoo and – not for the faint-hearted – the chance to sit on the back of a real alligator during a Gator Wrestlin’ Show. The hugely popular Swamp Walk invites you to ramble along a boardwalk through a lush cypress dome, where it’s not uncommon to see leopard frogs and even cottonmouths in the inky water below.
Hours & Directions
Gatorland is open daily (365 days a year) from 8am-5pm, rain or shine, including on all public holidays. Most visitors arrive here by car and there is a large amount of free parking for maximum convenience.
The attraction is situated on Highway 441, between Orlando and Kissimmee on the South Orange Blossom Trail, and only 15-20 minutes from the Orlando’s most famous parks including Walt Disney World and Sea World, as well as Orlando International Airport, making it easily to incorporate a trip here into your itinerary. For visitors without their own transport, there are also regular and reliable bus services that run throughout the area.
Tickets & Tours
There are several official ticketing options for Gatorland, starting with standard single day passes through to annual passes that allow you return as many times as you wish throughout the year. What’s more, if you’re interested in taking part in any of the park’s special activities, such as alligator meet n’ greets and unlimited train rides on the Gatorland Express, the Gatorland Grunt Package includes up to three experiences as part of your ticket price.
A great alternative that will save you money is to book a ticket through aRes Travel, a leading authorised seller of discount attraction tickets across the US. With Gatorland tickets starting at $19, a family of four or five can end up saving up to around $10 dollars on purchasing tickets at the gate. aRes Travel also offer hotel and attraction package deals, as well as packages that allow you to visit more than one park over a set period of time.
There are numerous options for how to incorporate a trip to Gatorland into your itinerary. Among them are several organised tours that often include a guide, round-trip transport, and other perks. Below are two ideas for how you can experience the wonders of Gatorland in a way that suits your tastes, budgets and needs, including links directing you to where and and how you can book.
Florida Everglades Airboat Ride & Gatorland Adventure – From $108 per person – One great way to visit Gatorland is as part of a wider tour of Florida and, specifically, the world famous Everglades, a 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species, including – of course – alligators. The half-day Florida Everglades Airboat Ride & Gatorland Adventure gives guests the chance to enjoy a thrilling 30-minute airboat ride across the Everglades, where you’ll see alligators, crocodiles, turtles and snakes, before heading to Gatorland. The airboat ride, admission into Gatorland, and round trip transport are all included in the price. Book at Getyourguide.com.
Go Orlando Pass – From $31.94 per person – Another excellent value option is Go Orlando whose passes can save you up to 50% off standard admission gate prices. A range of passes are available, including The Orlando Explorer Pass, which lets you explore up to 5 Orlando attractions across 60 days. Passes can be bought and used in three simple steps: first, choose and buy your preferred option. Then, download your pass onto the Go City App or print it at home. Finally, turn up at the park, show your pass, and in you go for a day to remember. Book at Gocity.com.