A few years ago in Florida, a little alligator snuck up on me. I was sitting on a dock looking for some manatees and an alligator popped his head up out of the water, right under the place my feet were dangling from. My feet were safely dangling 3 feet above the water...or so I thought. A simple Google search later told me that alligators can jump 6 feet into the air from a state of rest! Needless to say, I've been afraid of gators ever since.
In my most recent visit to the Sunshine State I decided it was time to face my alligator fears. I knew gator wranglin' was out of the question so, to overcome my fear, I decided to visit two alligator tourist attractions: First, I paid to enter a theme park that housed 150 alligators and second, I paid a scary man to crazily drive me around a swamp on an air boat to look for alligators (and snakes!). I think I can honestly say my fear of gators is a thing of the past.
Known as the "Alligator Capital of the World," Gatorland is located "on Hwy 441, just North of the Orlando-Kissimmee line in South Orlando." Tickets cost $26.99 for adults and children aged 3-12 are $16.99; however, you can save $3 a ticket if you order ahead online. Gatorland showcases snakes, gators (And lots of them!) and cranes and also offers a train ride around the grounds ($2 per rider), an alligator zip line and a gator wrestlin' show.
My time here showed me that alligators don't do too much; they seem to just like basking in the sun. I also went to the Gator Wranglin' show and well, it was just another day on the job for the employee who stuck his face in an alligator's mouth.
The second place I checked out was Camp Holly and it was definitely scarier than Gatorland. Not sure if it's because a) shirts and shoes were optional b) My driver only spoke to inform me that he was in the only safe seat of the boat or c) because I trusted Gatorland's gates and fences more than the open air separated me from the gators. We found approximately 20 alligators and this experience confirmed for me that they can in fact jump quite high from a resting position. Camp Holly is in Melbourne and a 40 minute ride around the St. John River costs $40.
My driver, in his safe seat:
Camp Holly made me realize that people are scarier than alligators.
Pictured below is the little fella that started my gator journey. If it weren't for this little guy, I never would have learned that some people will wrestle alligators for minimum wage; alligators can actually live in harmony with birds and that not all places require shirts and shoes.
Unfortunately, a new fear seems to have surfaced as a result of this trip and I will have to attempt to conquer it on my next adventure in Florida: The Waffle House.
My name is Sara and I love finding new things to do in a new city. This website is an attempt to share the things that excite me in a new place through stories, photos, lists, travel tips and tricks.