This is the first of a series of articles looking at things to do around Kissimmee, once you have exhausted the main theme parks, Disney or otherwise.
Alligators are one of the distinctive features of Florida wildlife and it is common to see alligators as you are out and about. Even our resort of Paradise Palms has a few warning signs dotted around! A good half-day out can be had at Gatorland , an alligator focused theme park and nature reserve.
Gatorland was founded by Owen Goodwin over 50 years ago (1949) and is still owned and maintained by members of his family. The theme park is among the most visited in Central Florida, and is good value for money compared to some of the more pricey alternatives.
The park contains several hundred alligators and crocodiles and there is ample opportunity to get close up and personal, if you desire. As well as the more sedate educational aspects of the park there are a couple of shows well worth seeing. Alligator wrestling (rather him than me!) gets one of the keepers into a ring with a large gator and there is the Gator Jumparoo where a host of large alligators leap out of the water to grab chicken carcasses tied to a line, leading to an absolute feeding frenzy.
To get another view of alligators and their environment take a stroll along the boardwalk through the natural swamp area (110 acres) which contains breeding marshes and alligator nurseries. There is also a three storey observation platform giving a fantastic view across the whole park. This swamp area was used for filming sections of Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Younger visitors may well enjoy cooling off in the Gator Gully Splash Park, although it might be wise to have a change of clothing to hand, because they will get very wet! For a more leisurely pursuit, you could try the narrow gauge railway which tours around the park giving an alternative view of some of the attractions.
Finally, for those of a more adventurous spirit, there is a zip-line which takes you more than a 1000 feet across the breeding marsh at nearly 60 feet and 30 miles an hour.