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Wild Florida Airboats and Wildlife Park

written by Julie Cohn

Disney World and Universal Studios are great family travel destinations, but there is so much more to Kissimmee than just theme parks.  Wild Florida Airboats and Wildlife Park show a different side of Kissimmee, a little bit of it’s wild side!  Are you ready for a peek of some of the wild fun we had at Wild Florida Airboats and Wildlife Park?

(Disclosure:  I participated in a paid bloggers trip to Kissimmee, sponsored by Experience Kissimmee.  My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.  All photos are property of A Cork, Fork, & Passport, unless indicated.)

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After a short bus ride, we arrived at Wild Florida, and took an airboat ride through the central Everglades.  The Everglades!  We had a chance to see alligators in their natural habitat, as well as other wildlife, took in the natural beauty of the area, and visited the Wild Florida wildlife park, where…you guessed it…we saw even more wildlife.  I even had a chance to hold a baby alligator!

Wild Florida Airboats

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What is an air boat, you ask?  In a nutshell, an air boat is a flat-bottomed boat, powered by a giant fan.  The Florida Everglades are a shallow, marshy wetland, with lots of reeds, low-lying trees, and brush.  A conventional outboard motor would not be able to handle the debris of the marshland, so the air boat is a more practical source of transportation in this area.  It was incredibly cool to ride in an air boat-we breezed through the underbrush like butter…if hard, spiky things can be considered butter.  The air boat is able to ride in the water, over saw grass and other vegetation, on land, and even in mud! One thing to note: Air boat motors are extremely loud, but Wild Florida provides headphones for riders to use…something we were very thankful for!

What We Saw

 

We had the perfect Florida winter day for a tour, sunny and cool.  The headphones kept the noise level down, so we were able to enjoy the gorgeous landscape.  It was hard to believe that we were in the middle of the Everglades, with civilization just a few miles away-we did not see a single sign of the Florida wildlife, known as tourist.  Instead, we saw alligators sunning themselves, several varieties of bird, including ducks, heron, the rare purple Gallinule, and even a few bald eagles.

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Did you know Florida has the second largest population of bald eagle in the country, right behind Alaska?  We also saw herds of cattle and horses during our ride, and found out from our guide that the animals are descendents of the original Spanish colonial life stock, brought over from Europe in the 1700’s.

Wildlife Park

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After we returned from the air boat ride, we toured the on-site wildlife park, where we saw more alligator (some quite large), rare white buffalo, emu, zebra, deer, and owl.  Several of us had a chance to hold Fluffy, a three-year old alligator.  Yes…Fluffy…the alligator.   Many in our group remarked how much their kids would love Wild Florida…we certainly loved it!

Wild Florida has a BBQ/snack bar, with picnic tables, so you can eat on site or bring your own food.  Wild Florida also has a great gift shop. *Family tip:  When in the gift shop, show them you are following them on Facebook and/or Twitter, and they will give you a small container of alligator teeth!

If you want to take a walk on the “wild side” with your family, without venturing too far from the “other” Kissimmee fun, Wild Florida is just the thing.  For more information about the Wild Florida airboat tours and wildlife park, visit their website, and find them on Facebook and Twitter.  For even more fun, check out Florida Eco Safari.

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