You’re Going to do WHAT?!?

by Heather Lindsay Sell, ShoutOUT Tampa Bay
March 3, 2019

**This post was not sponsored and is based solely on my personal opinions and experiences at Gatorland with my family.

image family preparing to zipline

You’re Going to do WHAT?!? That’s the shocked response received from a lot of people when I told them about my plans to zipline over gators. My aunt’s puzzled response was priceless. “Um, WHY?”

You all know me. I love adventures and so does my 24-year-old daughter. Shocker, right? So when she flew down recently from Washington State for a visit, we knew it was going to be 12 days of crazy.

Before she landed in Tampa, she already had her action list ready. Ziplining over gators, indoor sky diving, eating at some of her fave restaurants, putt-putt golf, possibly a helicopter tour, etc. The list was ever-growing. Our list was long, but our resolve was strong.

First stop – Gatorland

The first adventure was ziplining over gators. It was actually my brother’s idea to do the whole flight over gators. BROTHERS, am I right?!? He had seen a Groupon and  immediately thought, “Heck yeh!” So naturally that was added to our must-do list and a couple of days after Chelsea arrived, we headed over to Orlando for our “Screamin’ Gator Zip Lining Experience”.

Gators sunning
Adventure Time

Gearing up

Let the adventure begin. And an adventure it was! Once we checked in at the front gate (we had pre-paid and made reservations), we raced past structured ponds housing massive gators, to meet our “flight” party at the designated spot and gear up. We would have stopped to gawk more, but we were already running late due to traffic.

Once we made it to the zipline outpost, the staff quickly geared us up in our flight suits and caught us up to our party and instructors.

image of ziplining tower

Heart pounding, we climbed the four to five flights of stairs. Lots of stairs! The first tower isn’t the tallest, though your legs might beg to differ after you crescendo. My legs were a wee bit wobbly by the time we reached the top.

Once we bested the stairs, a photographer met us on the platform to take a photo of our foursome and then continued to snap more in-flight shots from the first two towers.

Then the expert guides go over some basic instructions such as, “Bend your knees as you’re heading into the next tower”; “Don’t grab hold of the cable over your head…EVER”; and, “Don’t worry about trying to stop yourself. One of us will be over there to catch you and guide you in”. Good to know. I still squealed and closed my eyes every time I landed.

After the pics, instructions, and pep talk, we each individually took our turn stepping onto the deck and readied ourselves. The instructor clipped us onto the cable and checked and tightened our gear (Yes, please). Once we were clipped, we were ready to zip. Off we launched, speeding up to 30 mph racing us over to the next tower.
images ziplining over gators

Our two guides, Sandra and James, were nothing short of awesome! Professional, fun, and knowledgeable. While we were perched at the top of the towers with a spectacular view of the vast park, Sandra relayed fun facts about the gators and crocodiles that resided there while we waited for our turn.

Cuban CrocsFun facts like gators and crocodiles can jump up to 6-feet in the air. WAIT! WHAT?!? Of course I had forgotten that part. I mean, that’s one of the things they advertise for Gatorland, isn’t it? Oh, and did I forget to mention we were also flying over Nile and Cuban crocodiles? Oh yeh! Go big, or go home, right?

Jumping gators. Guess I never thought of those same gators and crocs as being some of beasts we’d be zipping over. {GULP} Thankfully, the sturdy cables were way above the 6-foot temptation mark for the 130 gators and various crocs lounging beneath our dangling feet in the breeding pond below.

Sandra also introduced us to a resident movie star, “Pops” (photo below), who made his appearance in the movie Lake Placid and walked the red carpet right there at Gatorland for the movie’s premiere. I thought I recognized those teeth!

"Pop", Lake Placid movie star, is in the water.

“Pop”, Lake Placid movie star, is in the water.

Before the final tower and span, we walked precariously across a swinging bridge to get to the last platform. NOT my favorite part, I must say. Even though I was still safely clipped in, the slats and swinging bridge were just not my cup of tea. You’d think that wouldn’t have bothered me after zipping all other the place and over gators AND crocs, right? I took solace in the fact it wasn’t a great distance across. My nephew and brother, however, loved it! Such thrill-seekers those two.

TowerAll-in-all we tackled five towers varying in span and height with the highest platform rising seven stories tall and the longest section almost 600 feet long. All together we flew over 1,200 feet racing up to 30 mph over the mammoth toothy reptiles below.

Once we made it back to the outpost and clamored out of our flight suits, we headed to the photo counter to view our pics. Proof that we were daredevils, warriors, fearless. You guessed it. We ended up purchasing all of them.

 

Truly a memorable experience and one that I treasure! My brother wants to go back for the nighttime ziplining. Yep, they have that too where you can zipline again over the gators. At night. In the dark. And all you can see is their glowing eyes and shadowy figures in the brackish waters below. UM! Let me get back to you on that one.

Continue Exploring

Male peacockAfter surviving the ziplining and braving gators and crocodiles, we checked out the rest of the park. When you go, be sure to do that too. No lie, there are gators EVERYWHERE! Over 2,000 to be exact!

image of rare Leucistic gator

Rare Leucistic Gator

In this 110-acre park you can see albino, baby, American, and the rare Leucistic gators, not to mention Nile, Cuban, and Saltwater Crocs. For birds, there are owls, Amazon Parrots, a Budgerigar feeding aviary, flamingos, peacocks, and more. Get up close with wild cats including two Florida panthers, bobcats, and servals. Don’t forget all the other animals like snakes, turtles, raccoons, tortoises, a gator feeding area, and so on. Lots to explore. There’s a place on-site to eat if you get hungry.

image of a Florida Panther

Florida Panther

You can also have your photo taken with a gator and/or snake. And they have a train ride and a Monster truck ride called “Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure” that bumpily brambles back into the swamp. Kids will really love this one! That was fun too, though the ride itself didn’t last very long, which was disappointing.

Ready to go?

Here are a few quick tips before you go.

  • Reservations: Reservations for ziplining are required. And on weekends, the slots fill up quickly, so be sure to RSVP and get tickets before you go. You can purchase tickets and make reservations online or by calling: (407) 856-3226. The great part is if you’ve pre-purchased your tickets, once you get there, you can skip the lines and enter through the side gate next to ticketing. BIG time-saver. The Screamin’ Gator experience also includes full-day admission to the park.
  • Release forms: Those ziplining are required to sign a release, liability waiver and consent agreement prior to launch. You can complete these online for each person so you’re all ready to go once you get there. This was a lifesaving time-saver for us, especially since we ended up caught in traffic and running late.
  • Save: Groupon and LivingSocial have been running deals periodically on Gatorland and the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line experience. We ended up saving over $100 for the 4 of us, which included the zip line and an all-day admission to Gatorland itself. If those are no longer available, Gatorland also offers Florida Residents discounts. Prices otherwise for the “Screamin’ Gator Zip line” are $69.99/person (plus tax). You can also try VisitOrlando.com and save $10.

This year Gatorland is celebrating their 70th anniversary! Established in 1949, this 110-acre park is the convergence of two swamps and home to thousands of reptiles, wild cats, birds, and other animals. Happy Anniversary, Gatorland!

For more information on Gatorland and to purchase tickets:
Website: https://www.gatorland.com/
Address: 14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837
Reservations: (407) 855-5496

A few fun alligator facts:

  • Did you know…when you spot a gator basking in the sun with its mouth opened, it’s not waiting for dinner to fly in. It’s actually attempting to regulate its body temperature and cool off.
  • Did you know…gators have around 74-84 teeth in their mouth and can go through 3,000 teeth in a lifetime. As they wear down or fall out, they are replaced.
  • Did you know…the sex of a baby gator is determined by the temperature of the eggs. Lower temperatures around 86°F produce females with higher temps around 91.4°F produce males.

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ShoutOUT’s mission is to discover, explore, and share adventures and experiences with fellow fun-seekers. Contact: contact@shoutoutinc.com

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About ShoutOUT

In 2009, I started sharing my experiences, food, travels, and events, along with all of the incredible people and businesses I was meeting and discovering. What began as a fun hobby had such an overwhelming response, ShoutOUT was born! I continue to stretch the boundaries locally, regionally, and nationally, discovering, sharing and connecting as I go.
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