How Gatorland became an Orlando icon

Orlando, Florida, USA - February 9, 2020 : Large alligator head at the main entrance to Gatorland theme Park and wildlife preserve located along South Orange Blossom Trail south of Orlando.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Editor’s note: This story is available as a result of a content partnership between WFTV and the Orlando Business Journal.

“I think I’ll start collecting alligators,” said almost nobody. But Owen Godwin did say it, and in 1949, he opened Florida Wildlife Institute. His theme park off South Orange Blossom Trail eventually became Snake Village and Alligator Farm and in 1954 got its permanent name, Gatorland.


“It all started with Owen Godwin’s vision,” CEO Mark McHugh reminisced. “He wanted to create a place where people could experience the wonders of Florida’s wildlife in a safe and educational environment.”

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Under Godwin’s stewardship, Gatorland quickly became a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike, standing out among the roadside attractions that had proliferated throughout Florida.

Click here to read the full story on the Orlando Business Journal’s website.

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