Mark McHugh, CEO of Gatorland


For 70 years, Gatorland has created fun, smiles, and special memories for the millions of visitors who pass through its world-famous gator mouth entrance. Founded by the late Owen Godwin in 1949, Gatorland is still privately owned and managed by his family today.

Owen started his business back in 1949 when he purchased a plot of land on Orange Blossom Trail near Kissimmee with the help of his wife, Pearl, and their four children.

Owen opened the doors of the Florida Wildlife Institute with the desire to give the visitors and residents of Florida a look at the wildlife and beauty of this great state. The name changed to Gatorland in 1956 to become Central Florida’s first major attraction. Today, Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve that combines old Florida charm with exciting experiences, exhibits, and entertainment, making it Orlando’s Best Half Day Attraction.


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