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Where to See Wild Alligators in Orlando – Natural Attractions

A post earlier this year sparked many inquiries on where to see wild alligators in Orlando. Many people traveling to this area are curious about our natural attractions, and no other animal peaks the interest of tourists as does the gator. With fewer and fewer natural places in Orlando, we thought it a good topic to cover. So here are a few sight-seeing adventures you may want to consider if you want to see wild alligators in Orlando.

See Wild Alligators in Orlando – Guaranteed!

Of course the best place to see alligators in Orlando is Gatorland. It is guaranteed to see an alligator there – many, many gators. It isn’t exactly an Orlando natural attraction and neither is it free. There are several places to see alligators in Orlando which are not free. Many airboat tours lure tourists into spending money to see these ancient creatures. Unless they have a cage near the dock with an alligator in it, there is no guarantee of seeing a wild alligator just because you are on an airboat. Other paid attractions featuring alligators include Fun Spot Orlando, Wild Florida, Central Florida Zoo and Gatorama Alligator Farm (several hours south of Orlando). There are several Florida nature sight seeing tours as well. Many provide an opportunity to see wild alligators.

So where should you go to see wild alligators in Orlando? Look out the window! Well, maybe not exactly. Alligators are not everywhere, but you might be surprised to see them in some places. After all, it is believed that there are approximately 1.3 million wild alligators in Florida!

Wild alligators in Orlando

Gator Sightings

My alligator sightings include:

  • On the tram ride from the airport terminal, I’ve seen an alligator sunning on a bank of a pond.
  • Friends staying at several of the resorts have photographed alligators in the man-made water bodies they are located next to.
  • On the way to the Space Center, I’ve seen several alligators in the water-filled ditch outside the theme park’s entrance.
  • Traveling over Toll Road 417, I’ve seen gator noses dotting Lake Jesup. Speaking of this area, check out Black Hammock. While they do offer airboat tours hoping to see these creatures, I’ve seen alligators in the water within yards of dining outdoors there.

My most memorable sighting of an alligator happened at Lake Baldwin in Winter Park. Back when the Navy base there, I saw an alligator snatch some lunch while on the golf course just yards away from me. Feathers from a duck, one instance were floating on the water (intact), burst upon the water flying everywhere. A little thrashing and the event was quickly over with, and the water was still again. The memory still remains.

Vacation homes that back up to bodies of water may offer a great place to see wild gators in Orlando. If you will be staying a few days, relax in a chair outdoors and watch the water for their heads. On cooler days, alligators often sun themselves on the banks. Retention ponds and man made canals through neighborhoods are often home to alligators. Many resorts feature these types of water bodies. Watch and listen. Alligators make a very distinct sound (almost like a frog’s croaking only longer and deeper), often heard at dusk. Some resorts, such as the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orange Lake Resort often bring in an expert from Gatorland to exhibit an alligator for their guests (there is a fee).

What Type of Water Do Alligators Live In

Alligators can live near almost any body type of water, so it goes without saying, BEWARE! These are not pets! They are to be feared and not taken lightly. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: During mating season (summer) alligators tend to be a little more aggressive. Do not go near a body of water that is known to contain alligators, especially in the evening. Do not take your dog near these bodies of water that have gators. That is like inviting an alligator to dinner (which you are supplying). Another TIP: There is no basis to the myth that you should run in zig-zag patterns to avoid a charging alligator. If you do find yourself in the extremely unlikely position of avoiding a lunging alligator, you should run in a straight line away from the alligator and its habitat. Gator attacks in Florida are very rare. You are much more likely to be bitten by a shark in the ocean (more on that some other time).

Planning a day at the springs? These are great natural resources and fun places to visit, but keep your eyes open. Alligators do live in the springs. With all of the beauty to take in, it might be easy to miss a gator-sighting. Even the folks at Silver Springs admit, gators are unusual and not the main reason for tourist to enjoy their natural attraction. Still, there is no swimming here, only in their sectioned off water park. Hum…

Most alligators fear humans and will flee when sighted. Most. Some gators may lose their natural fear of humans, especially if fed by humans. Under no circumstance should you feed a wild alligator. It is against the law. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you come across an aggressive alligator (and live to talk about it), report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling 1-866-FWC-GATOR. If the gator is less than 4 feet in length, don’t bother. They are not considered a threat…still, do not try to handle them!

Hunting Alligators

Locating (notice I didn’t say hunting) alligators is a natural thing to want to do in Orlando, and can be very exciting when you see them. Most alligators are smaller than tourists think. While there are some monsters out there, most gators are less than 6 feet long, but 8 – 10 foot long gators are not uncommon. Males are usually larger than females. Hunting alligators is a different matter. You must be a licensed trapper with a permit and tags. Most hunters are only allowed a few tags per season, but do offer tourists to hire them as a guide service. It is not cheap, nor does it guarantee seeing or harvesting a wild gator. It does make for an interesting story about your vacation though!

Seeing Wild Alligators in Orlando

With Orlando’s many natural attractions and manmade features appealing to alligators, your chances of seeing a wild alligator when visiting are fairly good – IF you are trying to. Entire theme parks are set up for wildlife encounters in a safe environment. These theme parks are your best bets if you really want to see an alligator during your Florida visit. Regardless, keep your eyes open near our waters and don’t become ‘gator bait.’

A New Spot in Orlando to See Alligators

Many tourists are fascinated with seeing alligators in Florida. They can be seen in the wild if you know where to go (and have a little luck). Go on an airboat ride offered outside Orlando or Kissimmee and chances are you’ll be able to spot a few alligators. Some commuters even see them while driving over the bridges and overpasses near retention ponds, swimming in Lake Jessup and sunning on the banks of surrounding bodies of water. However, if you want to be guaranteed to see a live alligator while visiting Florida, the best place has always been Gator Land. However, now there is a new spot in Orlando to see gators on International Drive!

Gator Land and Fun Spot America have teamed up and have created a new attraction called Gator Spot. The new attraction opened in March of 2015. It showcases alligators up to 12 feet in length, and the new attraction also is home to some birds and other unique animals. The 15,000 square-foot reptile oasis allows guests to see a wide array of alligators, an extremely rare “white” alligator, numerous crocodiles and more.

Gator Spot coming to Orlando

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: This is a great place to have an up-close encounter with an alligator AND a perfect photo opportunity to share with your friends. However, if your goal is to see wild alligators (without paying for rides you will not go on), be sure to spend a day at Gator Land. They offer up-close encounters and a whole lot more. If seeing alligators on your Florida vacation is a priority, don’t miss out! While the airboat rides are great, you are not guaranteed to see any gators, nor will you be able to have your photo taken with one.

Admission to the new Orlando attraction at Fun Spot America costs $6 per person. Already known as a 1-day attraction, this new addition at Fun Spot offers another reason to spend a day at this smaller, lesser-known Orlando theme park. Even if you only have a half day, this is a great place for families with teens and younger children to get out and play for awhile.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you are choosing a place to stay during your Orlando vacation, keep in mind that Gator Land also partners with Gaylord Palms Resort. Resident guests at this Orlando resort include 15 juvenile alligators and 30 native species of turtles. They are part of the “Best of Florida” exhibit.

Alligator at Gatorland Orlando

Zipping over the crocs!

Hold on to your shoes!  Don’t dangle your feet!  Soon, you will be able to get your thrills by zipping over jumping crocodiles and alligators at the unique Gatorland attraction in Orlando.  Known as the alligator capital of the world, Gatorland is home to thousands of gators, including the rare Albino gator.   Plans for the new Screamin’ Gator Zip Line have made a few jaws drop when they mentioned they would be zipping directly over the alligator breeding marsh, jumping crocs, and through the parks’ bird rookery.  The zip line tower tops out at 75 feet high, and park officials are excited that this new addition will allow people to really see some diverse animal habitats.  (That is if you can keep your eyes open!)

This 110-acre theme park and conservatory has been here since 1949 and is also home to many birds, bears, crocodiles and more!  Some of the exciting attractions here are the live shows such as the Gator Jumparoo and live Gator Wrestling.  Park admission is not expected to change, but there will be an additional cost for the zip line experience.  The Screamin’ Gator Zip Line should be open by June.  Happy zipping!

Spotlight: Gatorland

An up close view of alligators at Gatorland.

Driving by Gatorland earlier this week, I was happy to see the parking lot FULL! And why not? It is a great time of the year to visit this Central Florida attraction.

You’d never know there was a fire in November 2006 that destroyed the gift shop and Godwin family home where Gatorland was born. A simple roadside attraction in 1965 now features over 19,000 square feet of retail, meeting and office space, pavilions and of course, the historic gator mouth entrance. This 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve has lots of alligators to watch and observe, but they also give visitors a chance to see white alligators, crocodiles, snakes, flamingos, parrots and a barnyard full of critters. Besides, where else can you watch a man wrestle an alligator?

What I adore about this attraction is that it is not a high-tech flashy experience. It is educational, entertaining and “real.” The self-guided tour through Gatorland’s Swamp Walk gives visitors a glimpse of what much of Central Florida looked like many years ago – an unspoiled native Cypress swamp. It is nothing short of beautiful.

The “Alligator Capital of the World” is running a Florida Resident Special March 13 – May 2, 2010. Any resident ticket is only $9.99 (adult or child). If you are not a Florida resident, you still don’t have to pay full price. Seniors (55 & up) who visit before May 2 also get in for $9.99. You may also download their coupon and save $2.50 off any ticket. The best deal is for Central Florida teachers; they (and a guest) get in for FREE! If the discounted price isn’t enough, for the next few weeks, random prizes are being given away to guests that include a chance to feed the gators, drive the train and more!

Plan a trip to Gatorland. Walk through the mouth of the alligator and be pleasantly entertained by some of the fiercest creatures that live in the wild here in Central Florida. You’ll most likely learn something you didn’t know AND have a fond vacation memory for a lifetime.