Families and others can watch for the cost of admission. Participants receive a certificate welcoming them into the “rarefied, cracked and scrambled order of Southern Behemoths of the Swampy Lowlands.”
“For this two-week period, we will welcome over three thousand alligators into the world at Gatorama, and guests can join us to actually see these little baby alligators wiggle out of the eggs,” said Register’s wife, Patty Register.
Other special activities that day include making gator tooth necklaces and the Baby Gator Roundup Pond. Food is available for purchase during the festival.
On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, special Baby BreakOUT events include admission, a hatching egg and dinner for $39 adults, $24 children. Dinner includes gator gumbo, corn bread, pulled pork sandwich, cole slaw, tea and dessert — all homemade by the Register family. Admission is limited to 30 persons per night.
Gatorama has been feeding the public’s fascination for jaw-some, prehistoric creatures since 1957. It is one of about only 10 true remaining alligator farms, and the only one that has an attraction element, said Patty Register.
“We’re a small attraction, family owned and family operated,” she added. “We’re one of only 13 roadside tourist attractions still around that predates Disney.”
No other place in Florida involves the public in egg-hatching, she said. The Registers started doing so several years ago on a casual basis, until the Hatching Festival became an annual tradition nine years ago.
Any day of the year, visitors come to walk the boardwalk past ponds of gators and crocs in various sizes from juvenile to the 3,000-pound “killer croc,” Goliath.
Feeding shows educate while they thrill audiences. The mammoth crocs can jump half their body length out of the water, which they do for chunks of meat and the benefit of clicking cameras.
For $5, you can hold a baby gator for picture-taking. In the gift shop, you can buy gator meat, gator-hide purses and souvenirs you’d expect to see at a roadside attraction — a dying breed of old-Florida Americana.