Three Gatorland Monsters That Don’t Swim

Expert View Column
Three Gatorland Monsters That Don’t Swim
By ATD’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
With names like Swamp Ghost, Bone Crusher and Cannibal Jake, you know they’re going to be big, mean, and probably green. At a height of 12 feet, you know they’re going to tear up the terrain. And they’re going to take you with them.

But fear not, because you’re going to want to go! Beginning in autumn of this year, Gatorland will let its three gigantic off-road monster vehicles loose in the wilds of Florida with the brand new Stompin’ Gator Off Road Adventure tour. And we’re here to tell you, the emphasis is definitely on “off road.”

 

Gatorland off road adventure

 

It’s all due to a $2.5 million expansion – the biggest addition to Gatorland since its opening in 1949 – which ploughed a series of rustic trails through the wilderness at the back of the park and opens them up to visitors. The area had previously been undeveloped, so it’s still Florida in its natural state, which gives riders an idea of how difficult it was for settlers to hack their way toward civilization – and how easy it was for hidden perils to lay in wait.

But you’re going to make the journey in style, with all of the excitement and none of the sunburnt faces and crushing hardship. In fact, while you won’t exactly have a bird’s eye view, you will be 12 feet above the trail, along with 11 of your best friends (or new friends, as the case may be) and one semi-disgruntled driver.

 

Gatorland Monster Trucks

 

Why disgruntled, we hear you ask? When you board your monster vehicle you’ll find out, to your (humourous) dismay, that it’s your driver’s last day on the job. A job they’ve been doing for a long, long time. In the drenching heat and humidity of Floridian summers. With tourists. How quickly do you think it’s all going to take a turn toward “one final hurrah” (read: revenge) for this poor driver? If you guessed ‘quickly’, you’re right. (Cue the gator swamp!)

As your tour veers off the beaten path, the landscape turns rugged, with turkey vultures flying overhead or perching in the trees, and the occasional bunny (or less furry animal) scurrying into the underbrush. As you pass through various ecosystems the fauna definitely changes until you come face to…what is that thing, a snout?...with 200 gators in their natural habitat. And they’re hungry.

 

Gatorland off road experience

 

Now, we don’t need to tell you, the gator swamp is going to be a big highlight of the tour – assuming all goes well. We also don’t need to tell you Orlando is the nation’s story-telling capital, so there’s simply no way on Earth it’s all going to go well. Not if you’re going to return home with a great tale to tell, it isn’t!

But take comfort in knowing it’s socially acceptable in this town to give visitors a little bit of a scare, and that it’s all part of the fun. It’s even more fun when the story turns interactive in a manner that is only possible in a Florida swamp. There are a few surprises on this journey into the sticks, but don’t worry, we aren’t going to spoil them for you. Just be sure to bring your camera because you’ll want photographic evidence. If you’re lucky, you may end up scoring some serious bragging rights, and if there aren’t pictures, it didn’t happen. Be ready.

The tour lasts approximately 15 to 20 minutes, and some of it bumps and jostles along a hilly, mud-puddley path, so it may not be ideal for expectant mothers or those with neck or back problems, but it is great fun for all ages and a terrific addition to your day in the park. Each vehicle has a canopy roof to help keep the sun off of riders, but sun block is always necessary in Florida (as is bug spray during certain times of the year), so slather it on, grab a bottle of water to stay hydrated, and have a wild time!  

 

Gatorland truck

 

We recommend purchasing your general admission tickets to Gatorland in advance, and when you arrive you can purchase Stompin’ Gator tickets at Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost, a brand new building that will also be the meeting point for the park’s fantastic Screamin’ Gator Zip Line (which can also be booked in advance through ATD), as well as the park’s speciality tours, such as the Gator Night Shine, Adventure Hour, or the fantastic Trainer-for-a-Day (ages 12 and up for this 2-hour experience that gives you hands-on interactions with baby gators and several of the park’s creepy-crawlies, plus the thrill of being in the Gator Wrestling Arena with a trainer, and that’s just so cool!).

We’re big fans of Gatorland’s zip line, and strongly encourage visitors (37 inches/94cm and up) to make it a part of their day. It’s thrilling, it’s challenging (but not too challenging!) and it’s an experience you won’t soon forget, especially if you buck up the courage to look down when you sail over the gator and the croc pools. If you have teens in your group, it’s a must, but even younger children who make the height requirement will love it. Aim for an early adventure if you visit in summer to avoid the afternoon heat. Gator Gauntlet is the wheelchair accessible zip line, which soars over The Breeding Marsh and is ideal for guests who can transfer to a specialised chair with a harness. Reservations are required for this unique experience.

 

Gatorland Zip line


For little guests who are too short to participate in the zip line tour, Gator Gully Splash Park is a terrific alternative, especially if the day is hot. Or, return to the park after dark for the Gator Night Shine and watch the gators eyes glow red as you toss hot-dog bits their way.

 

Gator Sully Splash park

                                          

With the addition of the Stompin’ Gator Off Road Adventure, Gatorland can easily fill the better part of a day and still leave room for an evening in a theme park, at a shopping outlet, or enjoying some time in your accommodation pool. We think it makes an excellent final day of your Orlando holiday, too, with its location just 20 minutes (15 miles) from Orlando International Airport. No matter when you go, be sure to make friends with Swamp Ghost, Bone Crusher or Cannibal Jack!

Have questions? Have answers? Join us on the Attraction Tickets Direct discussion forums! And be sure to tell us about YOUR Gatorland experiences in the comments!

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