Gatorama, one of the earliest roadside attractions that opened in 1957 is still going strong operating from an unassuming building by the side of 27 in Palmdale, halfway to Lake Placid. For only $14.95 ($6.95 for big kids, little kids free) you can catch the feeding show, walk the 1000-foot walkway over the water and see lots of other wildlife. Thousands of chickens have given their lives so tourists can line up and watch the big gators and crocs hurl themselves out of the water looking for a bite of tasty bird. Don’t leave without throwing some gator tail chunks in cooler or maybe a package of gator ribs.
Sixth generation Florida crackers Allen and Patty Register and their son Benjamin run the place and make sure you are close enough to feel the wind when the gators snap their jaws shut but far enough away to leave with all your fingers, hopefully.
You may think you’ve left the Everglades behind but you are still in the broad expanse of watery swamp that’s included. At Gatorama you get to ease into the feeling of wildness and leave civilization behind for just a little while.
There is always something interesting to see. The park puts together birthday parties and sets up field trips and adventures for students, teachers and scouts. You can even schedule a night visit that starts with a gator and swamp cabbage dinner and then heads out into the swamp to spot the big reptiles by looking for their haunting red eyes floating just above the surface when you shine your flashlight on them. Don’t dangle any toes in the water.
And in late August (in 2012 it’s Aug. 18-27) it’s hatching season. For an extra ten bucks you can hold an alligator egg while it hatches and be the first thing the little reptile sees. Just be careful it doesn’t imprint on you and follow you home bleating, mama.
All photos this page courtesy of Gatorama.
This is not part of what you get to do when you visit Gatorama.
This is something you can do. She's holding the baby that just hatched.