Gatorland in Kissimmee, Florida

Intro / Description

A great blue heron portrait

Great Blue Heron portrait

Note: you can click on any of these photos to go to my Flickr photo stream and view a larger version (click on the magnifying glass icon at the top). There’s also links at the end of this entry to the entire set and a slide show version of the photos.

In a “ToDo” post last year, I promised to visit and report on Gatorland and to compare it to the St. Augustine Alligator farm for you. I was finally able to go and this post is the basic review. I’ll follow-up with a comparison to the Alligator Farm shortly. Gatorland is a vintage, Florida, roadside attraction (started in 1949) and has grown into a 110-acre, photographer friendly theme park featuring some great shows with many kinds of animals on display. Although there are a lot of things to do in the park, the two that may attract nature and wildlife photographers more than others are:

  • The Bird Rookery: Created in 1991 as a natural breeding area for the gators, the 10 acre Breeding Marsh has over 100 adult alligators and is a completely natural environment. It attracts wild birds,which tend to nest above the alligators, since they provide protection against some of the bird predators such as raccoons and snakes.

Gatorland breeding marsh and bird rookeryThe bird rookery and breeding marsh


  • The Swamp Walk: This is located at the southern end of the park and is a self guided tour on a raised wooden walkway through a Cypress Swamp and affords visitors a rare look back into what much of Central Florida looked like before development.

There is also quite a bit for the non-photo family members to do, including shows, a small water park, a petting zoo, and displays of other captive animals.

The gator jumparoo at GatorlandThe gator jumparoo show

Photo hints: Gatorland reinstated its photo pass in 2012.  It allows entry at 7:30 and lets you stay inside until dusk.  Quite an advantage for bird photography.

Tripod/Monopod : Gatorland is a photographer friendly place. You can bring all of your equipment, including a tripod or monopod and there is ample room to use them as long as you are courteous.

Lenses: Of course, long lenses are a must for most bird photography and they will certainly help you at Gatorland. But since many of the birds are so used to people you can get very close to some of them, so very good shots with not so long lenses are possible.

Wood Stork and Alligator bokehWood Stork and Alligator bokeh

Best time to visit : Early February through June (nesting season) where the weather is also not as hot.

Other : Normal hours are 10:00am – 5:00pm.  Be sure to ask about Senior Citizen and Florida Resident discounts.


Families will find lots to interest them at Gatorland.  It’s a good value in today’s overpriced theme park environment. And photographers will enjoy visiting this park multiple times.

My Gatorland photo set on Flickr: The set: slide show version:
Address: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trail Orlando, FL 32837 (407) 855-5496
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Birds and gators galore – family fun too!

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.  Updated on 3/29/2012.

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