31 Days of Jet Travel, 12 Hours between Flights, 2 Friends, 1 Incredible Adventure
Day 7 – Kissimmee/Burlington
We’ve been looking forward to our Orlando trip for a little while now but all of our expectations proved to be way too low. The people of the Kissimmee visitors center took such good care of us it’s literally raised the bar to a whole new level.
Orlando is one of our shortest stays at only 7 hours so we had to pack a lot of action into a shorter day than usual. Chris, our host, picked us up from the airport and we headed out to the Boggy Creek Airboat Ride center. Loaded the crew on to what I was calling, incorrectly as it turns out, a fan boat and took off in search of gators and cool fan controlled maneuvers on open water. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see any crocodiles but we did do some pretty cool slides and 360’s. Overall a very satisfying little adventure.
In combination with the airboat ride is a small gator after show. Normally just another tourist trap kinda event, but not today. Today they let Steve wear the gator as a hat. The problem with this is that if you push on a Gator’s stomach, they have a tendency to urinate.. This particular gator released its’ bladder ALL OVER STEVE’S HEAD & NECK. It was absolutely hilarious!
Once Steve cleaned off as much natural Gatorade as he could, the crew headed out to the city of Kissimmee to grab some eats at the Broadway Pizza Bar. Steve, Joe & Clark dug into Calzones (pretty good, don’t hold a candle to Pizza Plant Pods though) while Jeremy mowed down a sandwich and some italian wedding soup.
In order to make our 6:40 pm flight to Burlington we had to be at the airport around 5. Finishing lunch at 2:00 you’d think we wouldn’t have enough time to do anything too awesome. If you thought that, YOU WOULD BE HORRIBLY MISTAKEN. This is the beginning of what might be the most epic 2 and a half hours of the trip yet.
Now we head to GATORLAND. We met up with our park guide, Mike Hileman, and the hardcore shenanigans began. First up on the VIP tour, feeding the gators. Now when someone tells you that you’re going to be feeding some alligators you assume you’ll be throwing food over a fence or something safe like that. Not here kids. Here you walk right up to them (I’m talking 3 feet max distance) and toss them some raw chicken. AWESOME. What’s not awesome is when you’re taking a group shot 3 feet in front of about 12 huge gators and your guide screams “RUN!” followed by extreme laughter as you’re darting to safety.
The fun is just beginning at this point. It was time to head to check out WHITE ALLIGATORS. Yeah, white ones (Don’t call them Albino, they have blue eyes) and we got to take their picture. There are only 14 of them in the world and we had the rare change to photograph them up close and personal. Our guide really wanted to show us his favorite gator Chester so we obliged him. You remember Chester from the news a few years ago, he ate 3 dogs in his neighborhood. He’s about 13 feet long, 1,000 lbs. and 3,000 lbs/sq inch of dog eating, jaw crushing ability. It was super intense.
When someone turns to you and asks “Hey, would you like to wrestle an alligator?” The only answer that comes to mind is “Yes!”. Gatorland has a twice daily gator wrestling show (that’s very funny, exciting and an overall great time) where real professionals handle these million year old killing machines. When the show was over and the spectators left our show began. We went into the sandy cage and approached our beast. I was first up. “Just climb on his back and put your hands on his neck” our guide explained. I complied. Then he spoke words that I’ll never really forget. “Ok now don’t lose” at that point he yells at the gator and starts hitting him in the tail, you know– to get him good and pissed off. I’m struggling trying to contain the beast as it’s slowly dragging me to the killing waters where 10 of his friends waited to dine on my Jameson marinated flesh. The order came out “Alright, jump off and pull him back by the tail.” I tried and after really setting my footing was able to drag the animal back several feet. This story repeated itself for Jeremy, Steve, and Clark. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience.
Just when we thought we were about to leave, they pulled us back in for the Gator Jump show. During this show they dangle meat above the gator pool and the gators jump out several feet to grab their grub.
As 4:45 rolled around we decided it was time to head to the airport as we had a 5:00pm TV interview to record.
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