Central Florida has Mickey Mouse and Shamu, but the area is also home to alligators, snakes, birds and animals of all kinds. Reserving a day for an eco-adventure will bring you up close to Florida’s natives.
Theme parks are one of the most popular attractions in Orlando, drawing millions of visitors each year, but these aren’t the only attractions in the area. The adventures that await when you trek just a bit more out of the way are endless. Explore, learn and experience the wild side of Central Florida.
An airboat tour isn’t just a typical boat ride. It takes visitors across lakes and through the Central Florida Everglades, providing up-close encounters with Florida’s natives in their natural habitat. Wild Florida’s airboat tour is unique in that it guides visitors through an area of the Central Florida Everglades that is completely development-free and that shows no signs of human life.
This tour provides the ultimate wildlife experience, inviting guests into the swamps, marshes and lakes that alligators, eagles and more call home. With experienced guides leading the way and the sound of nature all around, you will feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, and that’s because you are. There are opportunities to hold an alligator and take a stroll along the 500-foot scenic dock when you return, and admission to Wild Florida’s wildlife park is included in the price of an airboat tour ticket.
Take a tour of beautiful Lake Tohopekaliga with Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours. With stadium seating and no railing to obscure views of the alligators and plant life, the boats provide wind-through-your-hair moments as they race across the lake.
The knowledgeable guides explain the wildlife that you encounter on your journey and slow down when the alligators peek above the water, offering a close-up glimpse of these creatures in their natural environment. Included in the price of the tour is an opportunity to have your picture taken while holding one of Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours 1-year-old alligators.
Zip lining adventures are one of the best ways to see Florida from the air, soaring across treetops and taking in the sights of the amazing Florida landscape.
Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida has the newest, one-of-a-kind zip lining adventure in the area. The Rattlesnake launches visitors from a 65-foot platform, sending them swinging through 1,000 feet of zip line at up to 20 mph on a rollercoaster-style tour. It’s the only zip line of its kind in Central Florida and promises just as many thrills as any rollercoaster you will find in a theme park. The Zipline Safari is a bit tamer with seven zip lines, three skybridges and multiple opportunities to stop at observation platforms that offer views of 10 miles of wilderness in all directions.
With eight zip lines, a mile of zipping cables, and heights of up to 65 feet, Zip Orlando offers one of the longest, fastest and highest zip lines in Florida. The tour has over 300 feet of suspension bridges, along with dual racing zip lines and double-layered zip lines.
Sunset tours and night tours are available for those special moments with loved ones, providing views of 2,700 acres of beautiful Florida landscapes and stories you can tell for years to come.
You don’t have to be nature savvy to enjoy the great outdoors. The Central Florida area has many options for outdoor experiences that are supervised by some of the best guides around.
Try a hot air balloon ride. Not only is it a romantic adventure, but it’s an opportunity to see Central Florida like you’ve never seen it before. Orlando Balloon Rides takes guests high above the treetops to get a birds-eye view of the area’s orange groves, forests, swamps and even the theme parks. See the homes of Orlando’s famous animal characters, along with the homes of the native wildlife, from up to several thousand feet.
The Cypress Canopy Cycle at Florida EcoSafaris is a 45-minute journey over the wetlands of Central Florida on an airborne bicycle. Suspended from a network of high-tension steel cables, guests can pedal over wild animals and foliage from the ground level up to 25 feet. Or try one of the horseback safaris, which feature historic trails and a tour through the 4,700-acre wildlife conservation area that covers nine Florida ecosystems. Tour guides provide insight about the wildlife you encounter.
Wild Life Parks
Wild life parks are theme parks that focus on the animal world, and Orlando is full of them. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, home to more than 1,700 animals of 250 species, celebrates the world of the wild. The largest animal-themed park in the world gives visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with giraffes, lions and rhinos on the Kilimanjaro Safaris® Expedition or take a self-guided tour on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail® with gorillas, meercats and exotic birds around every corner.
Wild Africa Trek, a privately-guided VIP tour through the Pangani Forest, is available for the most adventurous guests. Throughout the park are areas to get hands-on, to observe and to learn.
One or Orlando’s smaller yet equally fascinating wild life parks is Gatorland. Guests are welcomed into the park through a giant alligator mouth and are instantly immersed in everything gator, from shows and tours to the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, a zip line tour that races above alligators and crocodiles. Guests can watch alligator wrestling and feeding shows, play in the splash park, or take one of several behind-the-scenes or after-hours tours. While the park’s focus is mainly on alligators and crocodiles, it is also home to flamingos, snakes, birds and cuddly barnyard animals.
Just a short drive from Central Florida is Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which offers close encounters with hyenas, lemurs, elephants, tigers, kangaroos and many more exotic animals. Learn about these animals in exhibits, impromptu encounters throughout the parks and talks with the animal keepers. Rides like the Serengeti Safari will guide guests through the habitats of these wild animals and the Cheetah Run attraction brings visitors just inches from the majestic cheetah.
There are so many options available to get one with the wilderness in Central Florida, so don’t miss the opportunity for an eco-adventure during your vacation.