March Trip Report -- Part 16: Gatorland, the Ovaltine Park


DIS Veteran
Aug 20, 1999
March 12, 2001

The cast:
Me (the 29 year old)
Donna (aka Molokai Gram, didn't ask age, from Hawaii)
Ohai (Donna's DH, didn't ask age either, from Hawaii)

I met Donna and Ohai at the Hard Rock Live. They were wearing the t-shirts I bought them last night. Ohai wore the Islands of Adventure shirt and Donna wore the Mardi Gras shirt. I’m glad the XL shirts fit!

As we were waiting for people, Donna was talking about all the things she’s visited during her vacation. She said that the only thing she regretted missing was Gatorland. Without missing a beat, I suggested that we go over there. They had seen pretty much what they wanted. I’ve seen what I want and I could come back later. Donna was worried that someone would be there at the noon Mythos meet today, but I figured no one would show up since no one showed up at the previous noon meets. We let Ohai be the deciding vote. Ohai decided to go to Gatorland. Off we went!

Donna wanted to see gators because she didn’t have any in Hawaii. Since I live in Florida, I see gators more often. They don’t wander around the streets and we don’t ride around on them like horses, but I see them more often than the average American Joe. Out of everything at Gatorland, I was looking forward to eating gator meat the most. I don’t care if it tastes like chicken – at least I will have bragging rights that I ate gator meat!

It took us about 30 minutes to get from Universal Orlando to Gatorland. I took Sand Lake Drive to South Orange Blossom Trail. We arrived and when Donna saw the gatorhead entrance to Gatorland, she said, “That looks cheesy!” We entered and bought tickets. I remembered a $2 off coupon on their website and I regretted not printing it out. We would have to pay $17.95 per person. Donna was generous enough to pay for my admission. The cashier asked us where we were from Donna said she and Ohai were from Hawaii and I was from Florida. I then remembered the website also mentioned a Florida discount admission. We all got in for $10.95 due to my Florida residency. Surprisingly, the cashier did not ask me for my proof of Florida residency.

We entered the park onto a wooden walkway. To our sides were pools of alligators. They were all piled up in the middle and they did not move. It looked like they were sleeping. One of the pools had the gator jumparoo show. I had hoped that we would see this later.

As we approached the snakes of Florida exhibit, a school group of elementary school students were following us and making a lot of noise. It was hard to make out what they were saying since they all spoke at once. It was also hard to enjoy the exhibit with all the noisy kids around. We made a break for it and went past the aviary, but the school kids were still on our tail. We did not flee into the aviary. I was worried that a bird might poop on me.

We then went past the emu cage. Donna joked that these were the last surviving emus in Orlando! I was surprised to see the emus since Gatorland is the last place that I had expected to see emus. I don’t know if they were the last-surviving emus in Orlando, but their legs looked delicious!

The Jungle Crocs show was about to start, so we headed over to the Jungle Crocs of the World area. I started to notice a Southern hillbilly theme come about here. As we entered the area, I heard an un-memorable song about jungle crocs. I’m sure it is on a K-Tel album by now. The signage was also written in hillbilly slang. There were a lot of “ain’ts” and –ings missing the g. We headed to the Jungle Crocs show area. Basically, the show was about two guys trying to get the crocs out of the water. One guy got a croc to come out of the water, but no matter what he did, the croc would not move. The other guy stood on one of the side walls and poked at a croc to get him to jump out of the water.

After the show, we walked around the Jungle Crocs area. The theme park-ness of Gatorland comes out here slightly. There is some theming, like having part of a crashed plane in the “What happened to Amelia Earhart” area. The signage seems to assume that she was eaten by crocs, not captured by aliens and taken to the Delta Quadrant.

We were hungry and stopped by Pearl’s Smokehouse for some gator meat. I had the sampler platter, which had gator ribs and gator nuggets. Ohai and Donna had gator ribs and nuggets too. Donna also bought the kid’s meal, which included a hot dog, a toy, and a drink. She thought that was a good deal. Indeed, gator meat does taste like chicken. It was a little tougher than chicken. I wish the smokehouse didn’t put so much barbeque sauce and batter on the meat. That kind of took away from the taste. The bones for the ribs were really soft and flexible, not hard like your average ribs from a cow.

The gator wrestling show was about to start, so we headed over there. It was standing room only for us. There were three areas of benches, but one area was roped off for construction. The show wasn’t wrestling in the WWF sense. One person did the “wrestling” and the other taunted him. She wanted the wrestling guy to get bit! The wrestler essentially put his chin over the gator’s mouth. He did it while the gator’s mouth was closed and open. He also put the gator on its back and held its mouth open for all of us to see. At the end of the show, we could pay $10 to sit on the gator’s back. The gator’s mouth was taped shut. Photos were extra. Donna asked if Ohai or I wanted to sit on the gator. $10 is a little steep to sit on the back of a gator. If they had included a photo, I might have done it.

We then went to the breeding marsh and watched alligators swim back and forth in the water. The gators were attracted to one particular area near the observation tower. I took a closer look and a family was feeding the gators with hot dogs. I wondered where they had gotten the hot dogs. I expected an employee to be standing around with a cooler full of them, but I didn’t see anyone. I tried to feed a gator with fish food, but when the food pellets hit the water, the gator just turned around to look and then turned away.

We walked along the wooden boardwalk and saw more gators lounging around. Most of these gators were big and fat! I thought about just walking around, pointing at the gators, and saying, “Shoes, wallet, purse, food, belt…”

The Gator Jumparoo show would start later in the afternoon. We had to return to Universal for the webcam meet and we would not make it if we stuck around for the jumparoo show. I had to imagine what it would be like to see a gator jump for chicken. It must be quite interesting.

We went to the gift shop for souvenirs. I bought some postcards and Donna bought some items for her family. In the gift shop, Donna said that she was glad that she did not bring her dad along or she would not hear the end of his disappointment. She said Gatorland was like Ovaltine. She had a craving for it, but when she finally experienced it, it was disappointing. The bright spot is that now she can say that she saw gators and a swamp. It’s like me saying I finally saw a volcano in Hawaii or snow in New York (I’ve never seen snow in person, believe it or not).

We headed back to Universal for the webcam meet. I took 417 back to Universal. It took about 30 minutes, but this time I had to pay toll.

We arrived at Universal around 2:00. We had time for one last ride. We chose the Hulk. Donna sat out again. Ohai and I used front of the line access. We got row six. While we were waiting, a teenage girl in row six asked if I wanted to sit on the outside. Ohai was the fourth person in line and I was the third. Ohai would get an outside seat. I wanted to sit with Ohai, so I decided her offer. She was kind of cute, but she looked too young for me. Ohai had his hands up again! I said, “What the heck” and threw my hands up too. Finally, we have a photo of both of us with our hands up! I suggested that Ohai ride Dueling Dragons, but he didn’t want to. If he could survive the Hulk, he can survive the Dragons!

It was nearing 3:00, so we headed over to the globe for one final webcam meet. I had to leave for home, so I said goodbye to Ohai and Donna. I headed to the parking lot and last saw them walking to the Hard Rock Hotel, presumably for their afternoon nap.

Another end to another Universal trip!


Barry Hom
Moderator, Universal and Sea World Boards

Click HERE for interesting Universal Orlando information!
Gatorland was a wee bit tacky. I had read Kelly Monaghan's detailed report in The Other Orlando and really, really wanted to visit Gatorland. But Barry is right, it was another Ovaltine experience and I am so glad Barry took us and not my father. My father would still be heckling me about it. Bottom line, it is still a roadside attraction. But we did get to see alligators! :)

Of all the exotic or new food we tried, I did enjoy the gator meat the best. It was like a cross between pork and chicken. Not unlike turtle meat. :)

Barry made our visit!! We were so lucky to have gotten to spend time with him. His mother should be very proud of raising such a decent, sweet, funny and nice son. I really wish I could matchmake for him. If any of you get a chance to meet him, do so. He is a terrific person and we really miss him. :(

And you miss us, don't you Barry???

Barry, come to Hawaii, and I will take you to see an active volcano and you will even be able to see the lava flowing! After all, you got my husband hooked on coasters and my grandsons hooked on that coaster is the least I could do to take you to edge of the volcano. ;)

If your husband is hooked on coasters, we must take him to Cedar Point! BTW, are you thinking of pushing me into the volcano? :)


Barry Hom
Moderator, Universal and Sea World Boards

Joey Ramone is gone but he's not forgotten

Click HERE for interesting Universal Orlando information!
Well, Barry, they only throw virgins into the volcano...and don't respond to that as it would be more info than I need to know. :eek:

Barry,I wish I had known you've never seen snow. We had PLENTY to share this winter!

Molokai, I'm so glad the trip seem to turn out to be everything you wanted. :D


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