The only way to get into Gatorland is to walk straight into an alligator's toothy maw. The giant mouth provides entrance to 110 acres of marshy wildlife preserve––home to a vast ecosystem populated by thousands of alligators, crocodiles, and birds, including rare wading birds and four rare white alligators. Among these, more than 130 gators splash and lounge in the park’s breeding marsh, which visitors can view safely from a three-story observation tower or while sitting on the shoulders of Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Yet one of the biggest thrills of Gatorland is the reptile's raw power. Visitors can see this on full display during the Gator Jumparoo show, where alligators leap four to five feet out of the water to snag food directly from a trainer’s hands, or during the Gator Wrestlin' Show, where a handler demonstrates survival skills. True thrill-seekers can even dangle over the breeding marsh while riding the 65-foot-tall Screamin’ Gator Zip Line. And to experience the unsettling sensation of stumbling upon a swamp filled with alligators at night, the Night Shine takes participants deep into gator territory armed with only a flashlight and a few hot dogs.
When they enter Titanic The Experience, visitors receive a replica boarding pass. From there, they relive the ship's history from a passenger's perspective, from life onboard during its 1912 maiden voyage through to the crash. The exhibit closes with updates on modern efforts to recover its wreckage, which the museum is thoroughly part of?it's myriad artifacts were found by a team that performed seven deep-sea expeditions.
Dash Around Tours' experienced guides cart up to 14 sightseers to scenic central Florida locales, such as Cocoa Beach, Lake Eola, and Kissimmee, aboard the Dashmobile, a van replete with complimentary food and drinks. During unique expeditions, quirky tour guides take digital pictures for the group's future perusal on the web, as well as dole out their own brand of trivia about central Florida that they admit is more useless than a megaphone at mime school. The tour price includes admission to area attractions, but riders must provide their own change for retail purchases.
Tantalizing Tastes & Tours guides Jerry and Jasmine Bacon shepherd diners through the Fine Dining Tour, introducing palates to the seasonings and styles of four or five handpicked restaurants. Private chauffeurs depart at 6 p.m., driving guests to gourmand gems such as City Fire, at which diners indulge in upscale American fare, and The Nile, whose chef populates a menu with authentic Ethiopian dishes. As journeys roll along, panoramic views of downtown unfold, guides elaborate on places of interest, including Amway Center and City Hall, and rousing games of trivia require guests to consult their noggins to answer questions such as "Is Antarctica actually real?" Drivers will also pick up and drop off residents of other cities for an additional cost, including Kissimmee ($25), Lake Buena Vista ($20), and International Drive ($10). The directors request that guests refrain from wearing shorts, flip-flops, or clown noses on the excursion.
Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) sprouted from humble roots. In the early 1920s, a small group of artists met informally to display and critique their pieces. They couldn't have known at the time, but those initial gatherings laid the groundwork for one of the most revered art museums in the United States. Today, the OMA is one of the select few American museums with national accredited status, and it has been showcased across the country by the likes of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other esteemed publications.
Every year, the museum presents around a dozen exhibitions onsite, as well as many more offsite. OMA pursues its goal of enriching Florida's culture by collecting, preserving, and interpreting significant pieces of art, which it brings in from places both near and far. Inside its walls, the OMA houses a number of collections, such as Contemporary American Graphics and American Art before 1945, a time when the art industry was inundated with paintings of Babe Ruth in his underwear. Even kids can reap the benefits of the museum's efforts, either through enrichment programs?which reach thousands of children annually?or by exploring the various interactive attractions.
Florida is a state ripe for adventure. Airboats speed across its Everglades, passing by scenic flora and fauna, such as the state's famous American alligators. Elsewhere, a giant Saturn V rocket looms over the Kennedy Space Center, where visitors can learn about NASA, ride a shuttle-launch simulator, or even dine with a real-life astronaut, who may or may not be made of cheese. An astronaut even greets visitors as soon as they arrive, provided they come on one of Gray Line Orlando / Gator Tours' buses.
In business since 1993, Gator Tours became the Orlando branch of the nationally known Gray Line brand in 2006, and has grown to include more than 20 buses that travel across the Sunshine State. The experiences mentioned above are just two of 59 tours that depart from the Orlando area. In addition to simple shuttle service, the company also takes care of full itineraries. Depending on the chosen trip, guides might lead groups through downtown Orlando or historic St. Augustine, home to cobblestone streets and America's oldest schoolhouse. Other times, the company's buses go straight to the ocean, where boats wait to embark on deep-sea fishing trips.