We decided to try out Gatorland  off of Orange Blossom Trail  in Orlando a few weeks back. I have driven by the big green gator jaws  out front many times while traveling through Orlando, Florida, but never stopped. This time, we did, and rumors of a train inside the walls raised the level of excitement for my one train track minded son. My daughter was already enthralled at the thought of seeing alligators- I fear she may pull a Bindi on us and become a future croc hunter.

For the price of a meal in a good restaurant (22.99 for adults and $14.99 for kids), we ventured through the gator jaws and into the wonderful world of Gatorland. The first are you see are the pens holding alligators. I have never seen so many huge alligators together in one place (heck, in one pen!) in my entire life. My husband gently reminded me throughout the day that this was an alligator farm- they are old gators and had been raised here. I just kept saying, “Oh my!”

For a small fee they let you feed hot dogs to the alligators (that’s why they are so huge!- mental note, stop eating hot dogs). It is against Florida Law to feed alligators in the wild, but this was a farm, so the tourists, my husband and kids were quite enjoying the experience. They have alligator wrestling shows (you too can get your photo astride a live gator!) feeding shows-see a 13 footer leap from the water to grab a chicken and other chances to interact with the animals- besides gators there are birds, goats, poisonous florida snakes (behind glass), and iguanas, but the alligators certainly steal allof the thunder.

A boardwalk takes you through a swamp ecosystem, another through the alligator nesting areas with well over 150 alligaotrs and baby egrets! For $2 extra, you can ride a train around the park (my son loved that) and learn the history of a place that has survived recessions and hurricanes since the 1940’s- that in itself is a worthy accomplishment.

We were hot and tired when we left the park (there is a kids splash zone- so bring a swimsuit to cool off!), but after an icecream, we headed for Old Town in Orlando’s fun district and had a go at the go-carts before a late summer thuderstorm chased us home.

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