Dubbed the “Alligator Capital of the World”, Gatorland is integrates a traditional wildlife preserve with a theme park to create a unique, fun, and educational experience. Located in Orlando, Florida, Gatorland is the premier location to learn about the popular animals that roam Florida.
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In 1905, Owen Godwin Sr. was born. Throughout his youth, Godwin spent most of his time with his uncle in Rattlesnake Hammock. In the early 1930s, Godwin decided to start a side job he was passionate about by building an alligator pit behind his home. He wanted to create an attraction that would engage visitors and teach them about the wildlife in Florida in a fun way.
More than fifteen years later, Godwin purchased land in what is now known as Central Florida’s tourist district. In 1949, Godwin opened the Florida Wildlife Institute. At the time, the attraction was only a gift shop with a small entertaining presentation of local Seminole Indians wrestling gators.
In the 1950s, Godwin decided the name of his attraction seemed bland and uneventful, so he changed it to Snake Village and Alligator Farm. During the early years, his attraction featured a snake display at the entrance, as well as alligator pools and the Seminole Indian village. To Godwin’s dismay, he notices people seem frightened of his attraction. If a family stopped at the attraction, women would stay in the car.
Gatorland was able to keep afloat by the crocodile Godwin purchased in the 1950s. This crocodile, known as Bone Crusher, came from a Miami breeder. Bone Crusher was 15 feet long and weighed a whopping 1,080 pounds. During the off-season, Godwin traveled throughout towns showing off his gators, especially Cannibal Jake.
In 1954, Godwin decided to change the name of his attraction to the current name, Gatorland. Throughout the next decade, the tourism industry began to grown, so Gatorland became more popular. This led to Godwin making renovations to the attraction to have more modern facility. In the 1960s, Godwin was able to spend the off-season touring the world in an attempt to find exotic animals for Gatorland.
In 1970, Gatorland officially became a corporation. Five years later, Owen Godwin, Sr. passed away. But, as a family corporation, Frank Godwin became the president of Gatorland and oversaw various additions and renovations.
Gatorland has various attractions that showcase the various wildlife in Florida. Here is an overview of the attractions at Gatorland:
· Panther Springs
· Giant Tortoise
· Children’s Playground
· Gator Gully Splash Park
· Parrot Playground
· Snakes at Florida
· White Gator Swamp
· Dog Gone Gator, Chester
· Very Merry Aviary
· Bobcat Bayou
· Swamp Walk
· Breeding Marsh
· Observation Tower
· Gator Gauntlet Zipline
· Raccoon Hut
· Cuban Crocs
· Saltwater Crocs
· Pops, the Giant Alligator
· Nile Crocs
· Emu Enclosure
· Flamingo Island
While exploring Gatorland is already entertaining, many people enjoy attending a few of the daily shows and entertainment presentations.
Gator Jumparoo Show is the show that made Gatorland grow increasingly popular. In the show, the alligators compete for store bought chicken. But, they’ll have to jump for their lunch because the chicken is hung at great heights.
Gator Wrestlin’ Show brings people to the edge of their seats as a man tackles a six to eight foot alligator.
Rookie Wrestling allows visitors to sit on the back of an alligator. Don’t worry about safety, there are many trained professionals to pose the alligator.
Upclose Encounters is an interactive and comical experience. Participants have the opportunity to explore a variety of snakes, insects, and other exotic animals in an intimate way.
Adventure Hour gives people a behind the scenes glimpse into the Breeding Marsh.
Allie’s Barnyard allows visitors to pet and feed some of the friendliest animals at Gatorland.
Gator Chow gives visitors the opportunity to feed the gators.
Gatorland offers a variety of educational opportunities for everyone to enjoy. Some of their highlighted educational opportunities include field trips, camps, and the exclusive trainer for a day program. Schools have the opportunity to visit Gatorland through the field trip program. During a standard field trip, visitors have the opportunity of experiencing close encounters, learning about the wildlife at Gatorland in an in-depth way, and even gaining a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes.
The other popular educational program at Gatorland is the extensive trainer for a day program. This program allows participants to tag along with some of Gatorland’s most experienced and renowned employees. Throughout this program, participants will be able to truly see what it’s like to train some of the most interesting animals in the world.
Back to: Orlando, Florida
14501 Orange Blossom Trl S, Orlando, FL 32837, Phone: 407-855-5496