Heading to Gatorland in Orlando and looking for reviews? Curious about the key attractions and insider tips? We visited as a family of 5 (our boys were 14, 12, and 10 when we visited in 2024), so we’ll give you the inside scoop to make the most of your day, from thrilling alligator encounters, wildlife shows, visiting the white gator swamp, petting experiences (our youngest couldn’t wait to feed and pet the capybara), and learning opportunities.

Find the optimal times for your visit, discover how to secure your tickets with discounts, and uncover the experiences that make Gatorland unique.

We found Gatorland to be a budget-friendly alternative to the other Orlando theme parks, so we made the trip to celebrate our youngest’s 10th birthday. It’s also one of the few places in Florida where you can pet Capybara (the world’s largest rodent), which is something he’s been wanting to do!

Map of Gatorland, Orlando

Gatorland’s Beginnings

The journey of Gatorland began in 1949 when the visionary Owen Godwin opened the gates to what would become the world-renowned Alligator Capital of the World. It all started modestly, with a small collection of alligators and snakes in Godwin’s backyard, where his wife sold alligator products. Despite facing skepticism from early investors, Owen Godwin was determined to bring his vision to life.

The gators in the Gatorland Swamp

We loved watching the gatos go about their day in the Gatorland Swamp

Over the years, Gatorland has evolved, adding a variety of unique attractions such as the world’s largest captive crocodile, Bonecrusher, and the iconic gator mouth entrance. After Owen’s passing, Gatorland remained a family-run business under the stewardship of Frank Godwin, Owen’s son. He continued to evolve Gatorland, ensuring its resilience against competition from the likes of Walt Disney World, with activities for the whole family, from Gator Gully Splash Park to the petting zoo to the white gator swamp.

Gatorland, Orlando Entrance is a large gator mouth

The entrance to Gatorland in Florida


Planning Your Visit To Gatorland: Tips and Tricks

To make the most of your visit to Gatorland, here are a few handy tips and tricks:

  • Gatorland, Orlando is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, including all holidays, providing flexibility for planning your trip.
  • If you want to avoid the heat, the best time to visit is in the morning, with shows starting at 10:30 AM.
  • On school days, the park clears out around 2 pm as field trips leave to get back to school by the end of the day, making a later visit a good choice if the temperature is cool enough.
  • There are three different shows during the day (Jumparoo, Legends of the Swamp, and Upclose Encounters), and each show is performed twice, so you can catch all of the shows early in the day, or arrive and noon and still catch all of the shows before the park closes at 5.
The show schedule for Gatorland, Orlando

We were given this show schedule when we arrived at Gatorland in Orlando

Online ticket purchases at Gatorland.com offer a discount on single-day admissions. Consider the Gatorland Greater Gator Package which includes park admission and three popular experiences. Don’t forget to check the show schedule beforehand to decide which performances you want to see.

For comfort during your visit, wear sunscreen or a hat, bring bottled water, and wear comfortable, waterproof shoes.

Keep your eyes open for signs around Gatorland!

You could wander by thinking the signs are general cautions not to get too close to the water or to watch your step, but read every sign carefully, because (in our opinion) the signs around Gatorland are worth the visit themselves!


Historical marker sign at Gatorland, Orlando - a joke about a husband winning an arguement

This is the first of 2 signs like this you’ll see at Gatorland

Followed by this Gatorland sign…

Sign at Gatorland joking that the husband who won the arguement in the first sign is buried under the second one.

The second sign in the set at Gatorland, Orlando

Or check out this Parking Lot sign:

Gatorland parking is free (with $19.49 scratched out)

Parking is free at Gatorland, Orlando

… and it’s match near the snake area:

Python sign at Gatorland reads "Pythons constrict their food, slowly crushing the life from their prey, much like parking fees at theme parks."

This “tongue-in-cheek” humor can be found at signs throughout the park

Capybara Feeding and Petting Experience

One of Gatorland’s unique experiences is the Capybara Feeding and Petting Experience. This is a special 10-minute encounter with Gatorland’s four capybaras. The experience includes feeding and photo opportunities, providing an unforgettable memory for you and your family.

Petting a capybara at Gatorland, Orlando

Petting a capybara at Gatorland, Orlando

If you want to sign up for this experience, head to the petting zoo section, which opens at 11 am. But remember, the registrations are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure you get there early. Trust us, this up-close encounter with the world’s largest rodent species is a part of the Gatorland adventure you don’t want to miss!

Gator Gully Splash Park Fun

When it’s time to cool off and have some fun, head over to Gatorland’s Gator Gully Splash Park and don’t miss the exciting Gator Jumparoo show nearby. This adventure playground and water play area is designed for kids to have fun with water. The park features sprayers that look like coconut palms and large sculptures resembling a butterfly, a water dragon, and an alligator for seating.

For parents and grandparents, there’s shaded seating and large Adirondack chairs for relaxation while watching the little ones play. Remember to bring swimwear for your children as changing facilities are available. The best part? Admission to Gator Gully Splash Park is included with the regular park admission fee at Gatorland. So, why not let your kids cool off and burn off some energy at this fun-filled spot?

Gator Gully Splash Park at Gatorland, Orlando

Gator Gully Splash Park at Gatorland in Orlando – included in your admission

Encounter the Wild: Up Close Encounters

For those seeking a bit of thrill, Gatorland offers special animal encounters tailored for children, allowing them to hold a baby alligator and gain firsthand experience with these unique creatures. But it’s not just about alligators. Gatorland provides up-close encounters with various animals including budgies, parrots, alligators, snakes and tarantulas.

There is a show called Upclose Encounters, where guests get to touch and hold different animals and learn about the animals and how they’ve made their way to Florida.

These interactive sessions are guided by trained professionals who share insightful stories and facts about the animals, enriching the experience. The up-close encounters allow kids and adults alike to learn about these fascinating creatures in an exciting, hands-on way.

Legends of the Swamp: Gator Wrestling Shows

Gator wrestling at Gatorland

Gator wrestling at Gatorland in Orlando, Florida, is less about wrestling to force the gator to comply and more like showing off the natural behaviors of the gator

Gator wrestling shows – one of our boys’ favorite shows at Gatorland. These thrilling shows take place in a shaded stadium so you can see the show from all sides. The wrestling ring is a sand pit encircled by bleachers, setting the stage for an up-close experience with these formidable reptiles.

The alligators featured in the wrestling shows are typically 6-8 feet long and comprise 90% muscle. However, despite the term ‘wrestling,’ the practice is more about handling. The handlers view themselves as professionals rather than wrestlers, emphasizing the bravery and skill required for such close interactions. The shows highlight daring stunts demonstrating the handlers’ courage as they perform maneuvers involving close contact with the alligators.

Jumparoo Show at Gatorland:

This show has a simple premise. Trainers hold chicken above the water and try and get the gators to jump to retrieve their snack. There are plenty of cheesy jokes along the way that our boys loved and were still repeating to friends a few days later.

Jumparoo show at Gatorland

We were front and center for the Jumparoo show at Gatorland in Orlando

A Stroll Through the Swamp: Swamp Walk

After the excitement of gator wrestling, it’s time to slow things down and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Florida’s natural wetlands. The Swamp Walk at Gatorland, also known as the White Gator Swamp, is a self-guided nature walk nestled in the natural Florida wetlands, featuring a wooden boardwalk for visitors to explore.

The swamp walk at Gatorland, Orlando, Florida

The entrance to the swamp walk at Gatorland

Visitors typically spend about 15 to 20 minutes on the Swamp Walk, but if you have a few hours to spare, you can take your time immersing yourself in the tranquility of Florida’s ecosystem. To ensure a comfortable and safe journey along the Swamp Walk, bring insect repellent and remember to stay on the boardwalk to protect the environment and yourself.

The Swamp Walk offers a peaceful contrast to the thrilling attractions, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of Florida’s wetlands.

Swamp walk at Gatorland, Orlando

Experience untouched natural swamp by walking on boardwalks over the natural ecosystem of central Florida

Nighttime Adventures: Gator Night Shine

As the sun sets, Gatorland transforms into an entirely different adventure with the Gator Night Shine tour. This one-of-a-kind nighttime adventure offers an exciting and somewhat eerie atmosphere of being amongst alligators after sunset.

Equipped with flashlights and gator food, participants traverse the wooden pathways of the incredible breeding marsh, enveloped by the natural nocturnal sounds and a captivating visual of countless glowing red alligator eyes mirroring their flashlights. While feeding alligators in the dark may sound terrifying, it’s an exhilarating experience that’s sure to make your Gatorland adventure unforgettable.

We didn’t stay for the Gator night shine or get any more details about it, but if it’s interesting to you, check out the night shine details on the Gatorland website here.

Conservation Efforts and Animal Care

Gatorland is not just about fun and adventure; it’s also dedicated to conservation and animal care. In 2017, Gatorland established the Gatorland Global Conservation Program with a mission to protect, conserve, and educate about alligators and crocodiles.

Gatorland Global focuses on the protection of several species across the globe, including American alligators, American and Cuban crocodiles, and Australian Saltwater and Freshwater crocodiles. The program has initiated various research and conservation projects, such as GPS tracking of American Crocodiles and breeding and releasing efforts for the critically endangered Cuban Crocodile. Moreover, local nuisance alligators are given a new life at Gatorland, thanks to the park’s collaboration with Central Florida trappers to capture and relocate these large animals safely.


Shopping and Dining: Award-Winning Gift Shop and Eats

After all the excitement, it’s time to wind down with some shopping and dining. Gatorland’s award-winning gift shop (we’re not sure how this award is decided, but it seemed like a typical gift shop to us) provides a variety of souvenirs, magnets, and snacks. Whether you’re looking for a keepsake to remember your adventure or a gift for someone back home, you will find something unique in this shop.

We got our youngest a capybara t-shirt for his birthday to go along with feeding and petting the capybara.

When it comes to dining, Pearl’s Good Eats is the place to go. Named after the founder’s wife, this eatery has been serving guests since 1991, offering everything from fried gator nuggets (they don’t use their own gators) to ice cream.

Family-Friendly Attractions: More than Just Alligators

Let’s not forget that Gatorland is a family-friendly park with a multitude of activities that go beyond just alligators. There’s the newly renovated Gatorland Barnyard Petting & Feeding area, open daily, where children can safely interact, pet, and feed a variety of gentle farm animals, and get up close with a selection of rescue birds that have been donated to Gatorland.

Gatorland rescue birds

Does Gatorland rescue birds?

There’s also a variety of entertaining shows throughout the day that include interactive experiences with gators, tropical birds, turantulas, and snakes, suitable for guests of all ages. Whether your family loves the thrill of the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line or the peaceful stroll of the Swamp Walk, there’s something for everyone at Gatorland.

Gatorland Aviary with Budgies and Cockatiels

Wander through an aviary area where budgies and cockatiels fly freely. For a few dollars, you can get a popsicle stick with seeds stuck to it so the birds will fly down and sit on your hands or shoulders, giving you an up-close encounter with these colorful birds.

Our boys loved it so much that we went in a second time. The aviary is open and closed at different times throughout the day, so plan these times around the show times and other activities.

Budgie aviary at Gatorland, Orlando

People of all ages loved feeding the budgies in the aviary at Gatorland

Educational Experiences: Adventure Hour and More

Education and entertainment blend seamlessly at Gatorland. The Adventure Hour (a paid add-on) is a behind-the-scenes tour that offers exclusive access to the Alligator Breeding Marsh. During this hour, guests can experience the thrill of feeding large alligators and capturing the moment with photos.

To ensure safety, participants are equipped with gloves to handle alligator food and have access to hand washing stations and sanitizer. So, if you’re up for a little learning with a dash of adventure, make sure you sign up for the Adventure Hour when you visit Gatorland.

The Gatorland Express Train Ride

For a relaxing tour around the park, hop on the Gatorland Express. This train ride provides a welcome break from walking, especially during the humid summer months. Along the way, the train engineer points out sights of interest and provides information on Gatorland’s purpose and attractions.

While there is an additional charge for the Gatorland Express Train Ride, a ticket allows you to ride as often as you like during your visit. Whether you’re taking a break from the excitement or just want to see the park from a different perspective, the Gatorland Express is a must-do.

The Thrill of the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line

Last but certainly not least, is the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. This is not your average zip line. Imagine soaring over seven stories high at speeds near 30 miles per hour across lines ranging from 230 feet to over 500 feet in length. The entire course spans a total length of 1,200 feet, giving participants an extensive aerial journey over Gatorland.

While there are certain physical criteria and safety measures to meet, the adrenaline rush and unique perspective are well worth it. The Screamin’ Gator Zip Line is the ultimate way to end your adventure at Gatorland, providing an unforgettable experience and a thrilling memory to take home.


In conclusion, Gatorland is more than just a theme park; it’s a unique adventure that combines thrills, education, conservation, and family fun in an unforgettable experience. From feeding capybaras and alligators to zipping over them on the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, there’s no shortage of excitement.

Whether you’re planning a family trip, a school field trip, or simply looking for an adventure, Gatorland is the place to be. So why wait? Start planning your visit to Gatorland today and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you hold a gator at Gatorland?

Yes, you can hold a baby alligator and even sit on an alligator at Gatorland. Each is a paid add-on (usually part of a photo package). They also offer backstage tours where you can get up close and personal with some of their largest alligators and crocodiles.

How long does it take to get through Gatorland?

You should give yourself at least 3 to 4 hours to enjoy everything Gatorland has to offer. We arrived around 11 and were ready to head home around 4.

What are the park hours at Gatorland?

Gatorland is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, including holidays.

Can I feed the alligators at Gatorland?

Yes. You can buy gator food (which looks like fist-sized dog kibble) and throw it to the gators in multiple locations during your visit.

Pictures of Gatorland, Orlando

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