Tag Archives: gatorland

Top 5 Animal Interactions

by Kelly Green, a.k.a. SeaWorld Mommy

Want to have a wild time in Central Florida? Get up close and personal with some of the natives (and transplants) who live here.

1) Discovery Cove, Orlando
There are so many unique interactions inside Discovery Cove by SeaWorld, we’re calling this a five within a five!

  • Snorkel with the fish & rays! Grab your best snorkeling set and dive into a reef-like oasis. For those who aren’t scuba-certified, it’s a chance to rub “elbows” with huge sting rays as they gracefully glide past you, swimming in and out of the schools of tropical fish. Little kids, too, can enjoy swimming in the Grand Reef, though squeals have been heard when a big, dark cartilaginous fish glides by. OK, adults have been known to jump a bit the first time, too!
  • Swim with a dolphin! There are only a handful of places where you can swim with dolphins, that don’t require a cruise ship first. Visitors can add on this experience which includes some interaction time, a “ride” where, to be precise, the dolphin swims, and you pretty much just hold on, and a kiss!
  • SeaVenture! Ever see those iconic underwater diving helmets? At SeaVenture they hoist those bad boys onto your head, and you descend the ladder for your walk-through underwater tour. Divers hand you a variety of cool creatures to examine (I held a sea urchin), and you “walk” up to the glass with sharks on the other side. Bring your underwater camera. Because of the angle, it looks like you’re right in there with them!
  • Bird Aviary! Speaking of photo ops, the birds perched atop a loved-ones arm (or head!), is a must-see/do. Three separate chambers are home to birds of every color and description. Tip: Go when you first arrive when you’re in your street clothes. The birds are ready for breakfast, and you’ll be able to take photos of the family before you’re all in matching dive suits. Spoonbill selfie, anyone?
  • River Otters! You can’t actually swim alongside the river otters (and if you take a close look at their sharp little claws as they speed through the water, you’ll realize this is a good thing!), but you can swim next to them with a glass wall between you that sure makes it LOOK like they’re right next to you!

Discovery Cove is SeaWorld’s boutique water park. Listed are the five within a five, but trust me… There are loads more!

2) Safari Wilderness, Lakeland
Since Safari Wilderness is right here in Central Florida you might not think it’s possible to have a little piece of Africa or Asia in our midst, but off the beaten I-4 path is a bumpy jeep ride where you’ll see zedonks, kudu, AND water buffalo that will eat right out of your hand! Note: Don’t freak out watching your small child’s hand so close to that enormous mouth! The tour lasts about 90 minutes, and if you’re so inclined, you can add on the lemur experience and take a stroll inside their habitat, too. You’ll also have the option of a camel ride! Seriously! Right here in Central Florida!

3) Wild Florida, Kenansville
Wild Florida hopes visitors see Florida the way it used to be 1,000 years ago… in its natural un-developed condition. Being “out in the middle of nowhere” sure makes that easy, yet surprisingly they’re only 45 minutes from Orlando’s theme park central. Guests can take an airboat ride to view Florida’s natural ecosystem , then explore the park where you’ll find a petting zoo (we saw a goat about 2-minutes old on our visit) as well as both Florida native and world-famous animal species. Some animals even wander around (like the peacock that seemed overly-interested in our afternoon ice cream).

Through the end of this summer you can add on an interaction with baby bobcats that will be the highlight of your visit, I guarantee! Duke and Duchess are two of the cutest kittens I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Just like their domesticated cousins they like to tousle with their friends, pounce on bystanders in their way, and pat their paws hesitantly into pools of water (then saunter RIGHT over you with their wet paws!). For $20 per person you can add on this experience, that’s not to be missed.

bobcat kittens

Other exciting animal encounters include visiting with the Two-Toed Sloths, Porcupines, or the Silver Fox. How often do you get to say you’ve pet a porcupine?!

Want more? Sign up for Keeper For A Day where you get to actively participate in preparing food for the animals, plus enjoy private interactions, or maybe the Half-Day Adventure Package that includes an airboat ride, tours, lunch, hands-on alligator demonstrations.

4) Busch Gardens, Tampa
Though giraffes have the same number of neck vertebrates as humans, their surprisingly large ones allow them to tower above guests on the Seringetti Safari at Busch Gardens, even over the guests riding on the open- air jeep-type vehicle. We recently took the tour and couldn’t get over how friendly they were. I have fed them before, so I DID remember how loooong their purple tongues are! Bring your appetite for adventure. The giraffes will bring their appetites for lettuce. Note: Have gobs of space on your camera to take pics, or just buy the ones their skilled photographers take. You’re going to want lots!

5) Gatorland
Want to hold the state’s iconic reptile? You know, without the threat of being nibbled on, I mean? Gatorland is home to over 1550 gators and crocodiles, and guests have the option of holding one or, as part of the “Adventure Hour” experience even feed them while standing a few scant feet from their enormous jaws. Beware: You might be surprised HOW close your child was to them when inspecting your photos later!

Want to combine gator holding with go cart/amusement fun? Visit FunSpot on International Drive, where Gatorland has opened a mini-version of their attraction right inside called Gator Spot (admission is just $6 per person). They showcase alligators up to 12 feet including the extremely rare leucistic (white) alligator. Critter holding ops are available. Last time I was there I had a snake around my neck and a gator in my arms while my son held both a baby gator and a lizard!

Would you like to interact with the gators from afar without leaving your hotel? That can be done, too. Gaylord Palms Resort features the “Best of Florida” exhibit, home to 15 juvenile alligators and 30 native species of turtles as part of a 10-year partnership with Gatorland. We’ve been there when the handlers were out so we got to hold a baby alligator before hoping off to Cypress Springs Water Park. Insider tip: All summer long (2015) Kids eat free at Villa de Flora, MOOR, Wreckers, Sora and Old Hickory.

 

#CFLT5Day and Launching a New Central Florida Top 5

The time is NOW. The steps have been stepped. SunRail has left the station.

After nearly a year of hard work in front of and behind the scenes, a new Central Florida Top 5 is here! What do you think? A big thank you to the team at CT Social​, for the fresh new look on desktop and mobile!

New Top 5

Fun Spot America on International Drive hosted us for a ‘huuuuge‘ launch party over the weekend with nearly all of our new team of writers, some of our readers, a few very special guests and we even met a few new fans! Our readers enjoyed 20% off of wristbands for mentioning us and using the hashtag #CFLT5Day! Thank you Fun Spot!

Special guests stopped by including our longtime friend Emily Ellyn, Central Florida’s own Retro Rad Chef and Food Network Star and David Hummer, Director of Marketing at Fun Spot America. Virtual well wishes were sent by many including our founder and Central Florida native Bess Auer, the Queen of Versailles herself Jackie Siegel and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs who surprised us with our own day – literally! Mayor Jacobs proclaimed Saturday, May 16th, 2015 “Central Florida Top 5 Day” in Orange County, noting our over six years of service to the community and longevity for years to come. Thank you so much Emily, David, Jackie and Mayor Jacobs!

So what’s new exactly? A BUNCH! Here are our Top 5 awesome new things about CentralFloridaTop5.com:

  • A beautiful new website and mobile site! How do we look? Let us know in the comments by signing into social media!

Top 5 Comments

 

  • Easier way to submit events to our calendar (Don’t forget the pictures!)

Top 5 Submit

 

  • The debut of our newsletter (Coming SOON!)
  • More opportunity for YOU to get involved! Whether you have a small business in need of a boost via paid ad space or a great event in need of eyes, we can help! Feel free to email us anytime at info[at]centralfloridatop5.com.

And last but certainly NOT least…

  • Our new team of writers spanning six (with more on the way) Central Florida counties! We attempted to broadcast a live Google Hangout on Air on Saturday, to introduce all of them to you, but sadly broke the internet. (Click the link for video of what did happen!) You will be seeing and hearing from each of them very soon…
Top 5 Team

Our new Central Florida Top 5 Team at Fun Spot: Allen, Jen V, Kari, Kate, Jay, Carolyn, Greg, Kelly, Emily, Lisa, Mark, Rich, JenLee, Bun (Not pictured: Brian, Jen L, David, Nando, Dani, Mike, Cody)

Look for more great posts, local information, reviews, interviews through +Google Glass, pretty pictures, video​ and some fun partnerships in the year ahead!

To our loyal readers, THANK YOU for bearing with us through the growing pains. We appreciate YOU!

Fun Spot America + Gatorland = Gator Spot

By: @jenvargas

Gatorland's Mark McHugh and Fun Spot's John Arie Jr

Fun Spot America and Gatorland are broke ground yesterday on a new partnership. As a show of gratitude, Fun Spot thanked the community, who was queued up around the block, by giving away a free breakfast and unlimited wristbands!

Area businesses, partners, fans and friends came out for the occasion including local government officials like Orlando District 6 Commissioner Samuel Ings, (representing the 5th congressional district’s Corrine Brown, Area Director) Ronita Sanders, 10th District Congressman Daniel Webster and City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer who proclaimed January 20th, 2015 “Gator Spot Day at Fun Spot.

Gator Spot Day Proclaimation

This is just an awesome thing for our community. I love Fun Spot, my kids loved it when they were growing up and now my grandkids love Fun Spot,” remarked Congressman Daniel Webster who stopped by while in town. “I think this is just something great for Central Florida and our economy. Our economic generator, one of the major ones is tourism. We have to have people come here, and they do! Many of them come and they visit. They have fun and they go home and tell their friends and their friends come back.

Mayor Dyer agrees, “I spent a lot of time at Gatorland growing up. I’m from Kissimmee so that was OUR tourist attraction. I got to see a lot of gators up close and personal so  I’m proud to be here for the kickoff of Gator Spot.

Orlando continues to be the most visited place in the world,” says Mayor Dyer. “Over 59 million visitors, and when the official count comes out I think it’s going to be close to 62 million for last year. The I-Drive area is an important component of that. Over 5 million visitors last year and 32,000 employees along the I-Drive corridor.

This is really an exciting time for us and Gatorland!” said John Arie Jr, Chief Operating Officer of Fun Spot America Theme Parks. “We’re really happy that Gatorland is part of the family and the Fun Spot family has now come together to make a HUUUGE expansion!

Since Gator Spot is an added value experience at Fun Spot America, what can one expect to see and do? John Arie, Jr. explains, “Gatorland will be providing a very rare white alligator, they’re going to have the only twelve foot and above alligators on I-Drive – that’s not allowed anywhere else. We’re going to have some reptiles, some birds, some snakes… there’s going to be photo opportunities and opportunities to feed the gators as well.

Here’s more from the groundbreaking ceremony including remarks from Mayor Dyer, John Arie Jr, Samuel Ings, Gatorland President and CEO Mark McHugh #throughglass!

Gatorland Orlando 50th Anniversary of the Gator Mouth Entrance

50th Anniversary Celebration

Thursday, December 20, 2012
4:00 p.m.

Gator Mouth Entrance at Gatorland
14501 South Orange Blossom Trail

Mayor Dyer will attend the 50th anniversary celebration for the gator mouth entrance at Gatorland.  In December 1962, the gator’s mouth welcomed its first guests into Gatorland.

Current specials @ Gatorland      http://www.centralfloridatop5.com/2012/10/04/florida-resident-special-at-gatorland-2012/

 

 

Gatorland

 

(More sooon)

 

Other Central Florida Events

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Resident Special at Gatorland 2012

Florida Resident Special

Special pricing now – more details @ http://www.gatorland.com/

Adults – $9.99 per Person
Children (3-12) – $9.99 per Person
Seniors (55 yrs. and older) – $9.99 per person

Offer Valid: Through December 20, 2012
Proof of Residency Required, Per Adult. All rates are plus tax.

Florida residents will also be allowed to apply the cost of their admission towards the purchase of an annual pass with extended benefits that include 30% admission discounts for accompanying guests, 50% off the Adventure Hour, 20% off Rookie Wrestling Experience & in-park photography stations, 20% off Gift Shop purchases and 10% off food & beverages within the park.