Sunday, July 8, 2007

Don't Let Your Kid Get Eaten by an Alligator!

When families visit Orlando, Florida, most kids go to Disneyland, Epcot Center, Universal Studios or SeaWorld. Alex got to go to Gatorland for some “swamp stompin’ adventure!” Gatorland is the alligator capital of the world. Visitors can catch the Gator Jumparoo Show where alligators jump several feet vertically out of the water to compete for lunch. Or, you can get your photo snapped on the back of an eight-footer at the Gator Wrestlin’ Show. Alex and I decided to hand-feed a pack of ‘em. It was awesome! You can buy raw wieners and drop them into the big pond where gators line up along the edges waiting for you. Or, you can sign up for the VIP feeding and get right up close to them without any fences between you. (I recommend keeping your toddler held tightly in your arms for this tour.)

So what's the difference between an alligator and a crocodile? It’s mostly the snout. What’s the difference between Gatorland and one of those giant theme parks? Not having to keep your kid on a leash. Alex ran around the park carefree with happy giggles. He splashed at Gator Gully, rode the Gatorland Express and had up-close-encounters with alligators, crocodiles, emus, turtles, goats, llamas, parrots and more. We weren’t rushed, didn’t have to stand in line, spent way less money and could see it all. Only along the adventure walk around the gator-packed lake did I have to make sure he kept his hands and toes inside the fences.

For the jet set mom, it’s tempting to seek the big adventure. For baby, everything is a big adventure. So, if you are dying to take your child – alone – to one of those big theme parks, make sure she/he can handle the heat, the people and the time it will take to drive, park and explore. Otherwise, for the little guys and gals, try something more their size. For us – a visit with giant alligators was the perfect stop. Mickey & Minnie and the Magic Castle will be there for the next trip.