GatorWorld Parks of Florida
GatorWorld is billed as a “Discover Authentic Old Florida Culture”, one-of-a-kind, a little off the beaten path, a new attraction with the planet’s only Drive-thru Alligator park. They also have a 15-acre Alligator Sanctuary with over 400 rescued gators.
World’s Only Drive-Thru Alligator Park
GatorWorld is a drive-thru attraction as opposed to a theme park. Vacationers with only limited time to spare can expect a visit to last about 1.5 hours. It all depends on how long you wish to enjoy the animals and if you can get the kids out of the petting zoo!
Entering the park through the main gateway puts you on a scenic gravel roadway snaking through the front end of the park under massive arching live oak trees full of hanging moss and providing views of some monster gators lounging in roadside pools. The specially-constructed pools are surrounded by common areas for the Gators to wander around in.
Feed A Gator
At the end of the tour, you can get out and see younger gators, feed some gators and hold a gator. The park is very kid friendly and the staff is welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable about the animals. They have LOTS of farm animals in the petting zoo and very cute Bunny Barn with lots of soft baby bunnies for little ones to pet.
GatorWorld general admission ticket price includes
- FREE parking
- FREE gator food for our guests to feed the gators
- FREE souvenir photos of our guests holding an alligator
- Access to the drive-thru
- Access to the petting zoo and bunny barn
GatorWorld is easily combined with area attractions such as swimming with the manatees and airboat rides to make a full day of “Discovering Old Florida Culture”. They are approximately 45 minutes from International Drive in Orlando.
In 2000, Don Buckner (founder and owner) was invited to join (then) Governor Jeb Bush as part of a Trade Delegation visiting South America. One of the groups that were with them on the trip was the Orlando Tourism Commission, during which he took part in discussions about tourist interests in Florida and some simple facts came to light and was that there were three common denominators for tourist visits and that was —theme Parks, beaches, and alligators. Those discussions planted the seed. Almost all Florida visitors seem to have seen an alligator on their bucket list!
That was an “Aha!” moment for Don, along with the realization that there was a need to create a quick and easy and low-cost way for visitors to check the alligator experience off their list. Realizing that there are several ways to accomplish an alligator sighting, like full-day park visits, airboat tours, and begging a family member to take them out in the lake to try to spot an Alligator, it became obvious that none of these were especially quick and easy. With the light bulb shining bright, Don Trademarked the name GatorWorld, and the concept of a “drive-through” alligator-themed venue was born. Our attraction is a drive-thru attraction as opposed to a destination attraction like the larger theme parks.
The VisionFor GatorWorld Parks, the vision involved viewing the object through the eyes of a tourist. “What a Florida tourist really wants,” suggests founder Don Buckner, “is to be able to have the ‘Gator Experience’ in a setting that is quick and easy, but that doesn’t consume a lot of time and money.” He boils the experience down to providing a way to “see a gator, hold a gator, feed a gator” in the most authentic and simplest of settings. But in crafting the approach, Don realized that GatorWorld Parks presented an opportunity to be more than just an entertainment setting. And the alligator sanctuary was born.
15 Acre Sanctuary
According to Don Buckner “The way we acquire alligators for the park is to purchase (*nuisance alligators) from trappers who would otherwise euthanize them, and we also purchase smaller gators from harvesting operations planning to use them as materials for products.” GatorWorld additionally purchased the Gators from an alligator farm going out of business. Those alligators would have all been harvested too. Buckner quickly realized that the park could serve a dual purpose as a tourist attraction and a sanctuary for rescued alligators.