Gatorland, the "Alligator Capital of the World," is officially launching its newest zip line ride, the Gator Gauntlet, an attraction accessible to park patrons with mobility challenges or other disabilities.
The ride, which is wheelchair accessible, allows participants to travel 350 feet down a zip line, soaring over the park and its lake of giant alligators.
"We're very excited about the launch of the Gator Gauntlet accessible zip line-we're not aware of any other place in the Southeast that's offering this type of experience," said Gatorland president and CEO, Mark McHugh. "One of the primary objectives at Gatorland is to make our attractions accessible to as many people as possible."
Gatorland worked closely with the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association, which provided consultation on the design and construction of the Gator Gauntlet. The Tallahassee-based nonprofit organization promotes recreational opportunities for people with disabilities.
"It is so important that we allow families to participate in all of our park experiences without anyone being excluded," said McHugh. "In addition to accessible viewing stations in all of our shows, the park's very first ride that began tours in 1971, the Gatorland Express Train Ride, was upgraded to allow wheelchair access and security on the train cars in 2001. We are constantly looking for ways to make our park a safe and enjoyable experience for all of our guests regardless of their unique needs."
In areas inaccessible to wheelchairs, such as a sand pit where patrons can get close to the gators, McHugh said they accommodate people who use wheelchairs by bringing the animals to them for an up-close encounter. "You should see the looks of excitement on their faces," he said.
"It was a great pleasure to partner with Gatorland on this project," said David Jones, CEO of the FDOA. "They share our enthusiasm that family and friends of all abilities should recreate together. We were happy to assist them and we hope a lot of people take advantage of this ride."