NewsFlorida News

Actions

For 73 years, Gatorland has been entertaining and educating families

Gatorland
Posted at 5:16 AM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 08:30:37-05

ORLANDO, Fla. — Gatorland started in Central Florida back in 1949, even before Disney World came to the Sunshine State.

It was under a different name back then, but for the past 73 years, the staff has been entertaining and educating families on these dinosaur-like creatures that roam all over Florida.

"If we can give somebody an opportunity to get this close to these guys that really does not understand them or maybe has that fear of them. And we can at least help them to get over that fear and give them an experience that they never thought that they can get. That's what leaves us happy every day, keeps us coming back and doing the great job that we do here on a daily basis," explained Gatorland's Brandon Fisher.

Fisher started at Gatorland back in 2004, two weeks after graduating high school. He left for a short time and came back in 2009.

"Honestly, growing up, I was a kid that terrorized my parents and my brother in the house. I mean, I used to go out in the yard and catch all kinds of crazy things. I've always had a love and a fascination for animals and being around them. And literally, a former teacher of mine told me about the job here at Gatorland and said you should go. And I did and the rest is history. So I've grown to love reptiles a lot more than what I did before. And being here working daily with these guys every single day has just grown that love exponentially," said Fisher.

While on a Zoom interview with Fisher, he introduced us to Buddy. He's the largest gator at the park measuring 13 feet 8 inches and roughly 1,200lbs.

Buddy was born at Gatorland and is between 50-60 years old. Their oldest is 72 years old.

We found Buddy in the 10-acre breeding marsh. Gator breeding season is just about to begin and Fisher said it makes it the perfect time to visit.

"So you can actually walk, you can see the little walkway there and you can walk through the breeding marsh onto our three-story observation tower and get a good look at all these alligators and this is pretty much what a natural setting would be," explained Fisher. "This is an awesome time to come here to Gatorland because you're going to see these guys doing things that you never thought that they would do. And you know, they're gonna be making all these weird crazy noises that make you seem like you're watching dragons and dinosaurs right in person."

Even if you're not a gator person, Fisher said there's something here for everyone.

"So besides being famous world-famous, honestly, for alligators, crocodiles, I mean, we got close to 2,000 alligators or crocodiles total in our park. We have a whole bunch of other animals. Snakes, bugs, birds, lizards, panthers, bobcats, a petting zoo, we have a train ride. We have our screaming Gator Zipline where you actually go to zipline over alligators and crocodiles. We have our stomping Gator off-road adventure, which is like a big slump buggy monster truck ride, which is a lot of fun. So there's fun for all ages, anybody and everybody come here and have a good time," Fisher said. "We're actually in a good spot called our Adventure Hour treat, you can get a chance to feed these big guys here behind me. We do it every single day. It's called our Adventure Hour. And you get up close to personal these guys."