Orlando Blog - Orlando Vacation

Information and news updates on Orlando Florida and Central Florida tourism information. This blog will try and cover all thing Orlando - from the nightlife to the Orlando Magic to the theme parks.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


If you live in Kissimmee/ Orlando or have ever visited the area, you’ve had to have seen the giant alligator outside of the zoo that was Jungle Land. Before it was Jungle Land it was called Alligatorland Safari Zoo. My grandparents owned the zoo and their house was actually attached to it. My dad also worked there, so my sister and I were there almost everyday.
My mom had got matching outfits for my sister and I that said “Jr. Zoo Keeper”. They were too cute! One year for Christmas we got a safari jeep. We took it to the zoo and rode that thing everywhere. The people that were walking through the zoo must have thought we were crazy……..we were!! Everyday we were there my grandma would go to I-HOP and get grilled cheese and French fries for us for lunch. We had I-HOP so much I haven’t eaten it since 1994. And that big alligator that sits out in front of the zoo……I climbed to the nose of it when I was about 5 years old. I had to do it alone because my sister was too scared. You get a big rush climbing that big alligator, I’m sure my mom got a big rush also because she didn’t want me to climb it.
On my 5th birthday I had my party at the zoo. It was great!!! Come on, how many kids do you know that have parties at zoos? Probably not very many. Anyways….. My dad dressed up in alligator costume and took everyone around on a tour of the zoo. He took out different animals for everyone to see and touch. He brought out animals such as: monkeys, alligators, different birds, baby tigers, snakes and others. My dad would do shows and wrestle alligators, so he did a little show for everyone at the party.
One year for Easter we had a huge Easter egg hunt for our family and friends. The eggs were spread through out the whole zoo. My dad took an ostrich egg and painted it gold. If you found that egg you won a big prize (I think it was a big Easter basket full of goodies). Of course I was not the one who found the gold egg.
Another year Alligatorland had a haunted zoo. Some of the workers at the zoo gave tours to the customers who wanted to go through. My mom didn’t work there but she also gave the tours and I walked around with her. There was a huge spider web that my dad had built and had to show people how to get through it. There was also a maze that people had to go through, and a grave yard that had people buried under the ground. Then it was time for the chainsaws……everyone went running when they came out! One lady was so scared she wet herself. At the very end of the tour a gun was fired and a lady screamed really loud. Everyone was in a hurry to get out of there. It was pretty scary, but it was hilarious watching all the people run and scream.
The days that my sister and I would go hang out at the zoo, we would always play with the goats. We would ride and feed them (we were little so we didn’t hurt them). When it was time to feed the animals, we would go around with a guy that worked there and help him feed them. There was a chimpanzee, named Sonny, which we used to give bubble gum to. It was funny watching him chew it. My sister and I would go in the porcupine pin and get the quills that had fallen off of them. My mom said when we got home from the zoo we smelled really bad! She said that we went right in the bath and our clothes went right in the washing machine.
I think my favorite part of being involved with the zoo was getting to be up close with the animals. It was fun getting to see the different birds hatch out of their eggs and seeing all the baby animals. Another neat thing that most kids don’t get to do is getting the chance to take home a monkey. We got to keep a baby Ring-Tailed Lemur at our house for a while. We would feed it with a baby bottle and put diapers on it. He was just the cutest thing! One day we had the monkey at the zoo and it was sitting on my grandmas head and it pooped on her. It was so funny! Also, one of the pot belly pigs had babies, so we got to take one home with us. My sister and I would play in the pig pin at the zoo with the other piggies.
In 1994 my family and I moved to Missouri and then in 1995 my grandparents sold the zoo. We ended up moving back to Florida in ’95 or ’96, and by that time the new owners of the zoo had opened up Jungle Land. My grandma took me and my sister there a few times but it just wasn’t the same. I was pretty upset when they sold the zoo because I had some fun times at that place.