Discussion in 'Other Florida Parks and Attractions' started by UKTim, Aug 24, 2008.
Is gatorland worth going to and is it an all day thing or just half a day?
It's a nice change to the busy parks. We went for about 9.30am and were done around 2pm. We fed the gators too. There are a couple of shows to watch too. My video below includes Gatorland.....then a trip report of our time there....
Thursday 4th January 2007
Today, we are going to use one of the days on our ‘Go Orlando’ card. The weather is fantastic and I wish we were driving a convertible!
We set off from the villa around 9.30am for Gatorland. Now, I’m not sure what I’m going to make of this place and I have read mixed reviews of it so, we’ll see shall we! We arrive just after it opens from the temporary entrance the staff have built since the terrible fire they had a little while back. The car park would only hold around 40 cars and from what I can see, used to be a grassy area. The lady on the entrance booth is very friendly…..I remember that. With our ‘Go Orlando’ cards, we get a voucher for a free train ride and a free hot dog. Dave is licking his lips then I explain to him that the hotdog is for the gators, not fit for human consumption.
Being the kind of folk that we are, first off, we sign up to feed the gators later in the day. Then, we walk through a wooden archway until we come across a bear. This bear is fast asleep and couldn’t give two hoots that we were desperate to see her pretty face, she just kept it tucked under her paw. Next, are some goats with the machine just outside their enclosure with the pellets in for you to buy….so we buy some. Goats all fed, we head for the llamas…..with the machine just outside their enclosure with the pellets in for you to buy…so we buy some. Llamas all fed, hands all covered in saliva and other sticky stuff, we look for a wash area and can’t find one nearby.…..we wipe our hands on our own jeans.
We come across our first gator…..he is all alone in an enclosure with a wooden hut and a sign up telling everyone that he was caught in Tampa after eating a couple of dogs. He is a big guy.
We have a wander up some steps onto a lookout tower which I recognise from the live webcam that I sometimes visit on Gatorlands website. It’s quite peaceful here and there are only a handful of people in the park. A heron decides to play daredevil with a gator and we wait to see how far it gets before the gator snaps…..but these gators are so docile that the heron practically did a song and dance routine on the back of a gator before flying off looking smug. Ok, we’ll get them moving we thought. So, off we go with our voucher to get the free hotdogs. Our strategy is to break the hotdog up into small pieces and make it last…..get as many gators moving as possible. Dave goes first. Whoosh, the first piece of hotdog splashes into the lake just an inch from a huge gator. Nothing…..just the ripple on the water that the hotdog made. Then, without warning and as quick as a flash……….a fish comes along, gobbles up the hotdog and is waiting for more. Hey, we haven’t got these hotdogs to feed to the fish so we head over to another area which is teaming with gators. We’re gonna get some action here. Nope. This time, the birds which were sitting on the back of the gators got the hotdog.
Anyway, it’s time for the ‘Close Encounters’ show so we head over to the spot to watch this. Still not many people here so we sit right at the front. There’s a few crates and boxes on the ground in front of us…props? Out come the two employees one male, one female. They start off by giving out some facts about gators, reptiles etc and produce out of these boxes a small black snake which I can’t remember the name of right now. Anyhow, it is the most popular snake around these parts and bites people on the ankles…….so I pull my manicured tootsies under the bench and wish I’d worn trainers today. They then go on to say “anyone afraid of snakes and things, put up your hand” Doing the typical bloke thing, Dave tries to raise my hand but he gets a stern look and he gives up. Now, a couple of the folks who raised their hands, have one of these prop boxes put in front of them and are told to open them up….carefully! Diane here, being very naïve is sitting here thinking that a rubber snake is going to be flung out over a screaming audience member but, she’s wrong. They are living breathing snakes and I have no problem with that, I even lean closer for a good look.
A Chinese lady behind me has a box too. When she puts her hands in, there is a tarantula in there. Well, that was me done for. I just couldn’t help myself. I immediately start to cry and if my legs hadn’t turned to jelly, I would have been out of there in a split nanosecond. The spider is brought through the row of people and I am watching it, not daring to take my eyes off it. It gets to the front of me and, just before I was going to wet myself, the girl sees the state I’m in and gives me some space. I wipe the tears away and sit silently shaking for a while until that spider is well and truly gone. The show over, Dave has his photo taken with a boa constrictor around his shoulders. He paid $5 to have his photo taken, then you have to pay for the photo on top of that.
We also watch the gator jumparoo show. Basically, you get a commentator and two people who pretend to be country bumpkins. These two decide to settle an argument with a bet on who can get the gator to jump the highest out of the water for a half raw chicken.
Now it is time for us to go and hand feed the gators. We were first to sign up for this when we arrived so, we are first through the gates to feed what must have been about 15 gators…..all waiting at the edge of the lake. We take three pieces of steak each and, one by one, we go to the edge of the lake and throw the meat at the gators. We are told to aim for the sides of their faces so that they can see the meat. Throw it in front of them and they have no vision there. At last, gators that actually want to eat me. Oops….better finish that sentence off properly. At last, gators that want to eat meat.
We decide to call it a day here and on the way out, notice the burnt remains of the famous Gatorland entrance. You know the one where everyone would have their photo taken inside the gators jaw. It’s rather sad to see.
Now, with these cards that we have for today, we decide to go to International Drive and use them to their fullest here. First stop is Titanic. We are both given a card with the name of a person who was actually on Titanic printed on it and a brief description of who they were etc. At the end of the tour, we are to check if we survived or not. Our guide is an Irishman who was a crewmember on that maiden voyage. He plays the part well. The replica of the grand staircase is stunning, as are the first class cabins. There are certain things on show…..like the dinner service’s that were used on that voyage (replicas). There was a chair from the actual Titanic and, another from the Titanic movie. At one point we were taken to a room with a huge piece of ice in it. We were told to stand sideways and place our flat hands on the ice and keep them there for half a minute. It was hard to do. We were then told …. “that was the temperature of the air on the night the Titanic sank.” The tour lasted about an hour and the last thing the guide said to us was “remember, whenever you go out to work or even to the shops, tell the people that you love, that you love them as you never know how that journey is going to end” That got a few teary eyed folks! We then went to check our names on the list to see if we survived. Dave didn’t. I was a female crewmember and I did survive.
Wonderworks next. We parked the car in the car park where the big teddy bear used to be and noticed quite a few new restaurants had opened up there. We made a mental note to look them up one evening. I actually enjoyed Wonderworks more than I had thought I would. It is full of gadgets and gizmos….all of which you get to try out. I asked Dave to lie on the bed of nails and got ready with the camcorder. We went back to our childhood and made huge bubbles, we played a large version of that Simon Says game. We picked a combination lock, tested our strength, morphed our photos, and did puzzle after puzzle. It was quite an amusing couple of hours.
Ripleys Believe It Or Not was next on the list. I’m sorry to anyone who likes this place but……it was the pits in my opinion! You couldn’t pay me to go back there. It was full of really badly made dummies and, sorry, but I can’t find the right words to describe this place and every corner that I turned, I was hoping to see the exit sign.
Once we escaped Ripleys, we decided to go to Olive Garden for a meal. Never been here before but heard good reports. The meal was very good…..we both opted for pasta but there was too much to finish it all. Saying that, we each had dessert!
Time to head back to the villa and a quick swim before bed.
I've never been but I have family who go each time they visit. Gatorland is a big deal to them!
Separate names with a comma.