We were provided complimentary tickets to Wild Florida to facilitate my review. The opinions in this post are 100% mine. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
My family recently traveled to Kissimmee, Florida for an amazing family vacation. We had the best time and one of the top highlights of our trip was our visit to Wild Florida Airboat and Wildlife Park. This was an adventure like none of us had ever experienced before. So much fun, so educational, and so memorable. I cannot recommend it highly enough if you are traveling (or live) in the Central Florida area. The cool thing about Wild Florida is that it’s the only airboat ride venue that also has a wildlife park and with the purchase of your airboat ride ticket, you get into the wildlife park for free! I had planned to write one post to show you the entire attraction but I have SO many amazing pictures to share with you that in the middle of editing them I decided this needs to be split into two posts. So this post is going to feature the airboat ride and you can look for a post very soon on the wildlife park.
This map gives you a good feel for the lay of the land. On the right upper side of the map you can see the dock that leads out to the airboats and part of the lake and marsh area you ride through. Just the walk on the dock is so cool! Seriously, the scenery is just incredible. There is no civilization to be seen. This is what Florida looked like before it became theme park central and it’s just so cool so experience first hand.
We had gorgeous weather on this October day. This is the dock that leads out to the airboat boarding area. Gorgeous, right?
Here we are walking out with to the airboat and peeking over the edge. The group that came in before we went out spotted a gator under the bridge!
We didn’t see a gator but we did find this little fellow. The kids had so much fun looking for wildlife and to get up close to it like this in its natural habitat really makes an impression on them. My husband and I were in love with this experience too but I was particularly glad to be able to share this with my kids. They still talk about it all the time!
Love those Florida palm trees. This is another picture of the view from the dock while we were walking out to get on the boat. There are gators in that lake…and I’ll show you in just a sec! These are the headwaters to the Central Florida Everglades and there is tons of cool wildlife to observe everywhere.
This is the airboat we rode on. Wild Florida has a fleet of them so they can accommodate several rides a day. They are really careful to keep a cap on how many times they go out per day, though, in order to preserve the ‘wild’ in Wild Florida. These boats explore over 100,000 acres of serene wetlands. Gators or not (and there were gators), I could ride this ride every day. It is just beautiful out here.
Here we gooooo! We had an awesome boat captain who told us everything we needed to know before we set out to find some gators. The airboats are a little loud so everyone gets a headset to protect your ears. Little ones get life jackets, too. Definitely wear some sunscreen, too. I don’t really advise a hat. Most everyone who was wearing one had it fly off at some point!
Leo was so excited! My kids absolutely loved doing this. Funny side story: I helped out in his kindergarten class last week and saw in his journal where he had drawn a picture of an airboat with all of us on it and written, “I went on an airboat ride. We saw alligators.” Love it!! This trip made such an impression on my kids.
Lily was ready to roll and find herself some gators! I took a quick little video below just to show you what it’s like to be out on the water in this gorgeous place.
Wild Florida Airboat Ride
It’s a one-of-a-kind experience. Beautiful scenery and just exhilarating to zip through the water like that on an airboat.
In addition to the gators we were looking for we saw tons of coastal birds. There are also nesting eagles in the area but we didn’t get a pic of them. Just keep your eyes peeled because there’s so much to see in this natural habitat. There is no sign of people, buildings, houses, anything like that anywhere out here and it’s pretty amazing.
Another bird! I’m not an expert but this looks like a heron of some sort to me. They were everywhere, definitely not the same kinds of birds we see here at home in Pennsylvania.
Aha! Our first gator spotting! You can see the front edge of the boat in the bottom of this picture to get a feel for how close we were to this gator. He just swam right along and let us follow him for quite a while.
There’s the tip of his nose. We figured he was a stubborn teenager, not wanting to get out of the way. 😉
It’s so amazing to see these animals out in the wild. Of course I’ve seen them on TV before and in captivity but this is a totally new experience and it’s fascinating!
Wild Florida Airboat – Follow That Gator!
Here’s a little clip of this gator just swimming along while we followed.
How many birds to you see in this picture? I only saw the white one at first but there’s actually two. That’s how it was on our entire ride: the more you look the more you’ll see.
Yes, those are cows. What?! That’s what I said. Some of the largest ranch lands in the country are in this area so there are indeed cows nearby. We saw one that was up to his neck in the water. The gators apparently won’t go after something that big so they’re safe to swim. Talk about educational! Who knew there were cows swimming with alligators in Florida?
We saw another Wild Florida Airboat out on the water enjoying their ride. I only wanted to snap a picture of this boat and ended with both a cow and a bird in the background. There is wildlife everywhere!
Out in the middle of the late we spotted a lot more alligators. You just see their heads and backs poking up.
They let you get pretty close before they go under and disappear. A zoom lens doesn’t hurt so keep that in mind when you’re visiting.
After an hour-long tour where we saw tons of birds and alligators (and cows – I still can’t get over that!) we headed back to the dock.
Leo got a chance to sit in the driver’s seat back at the dock.
After our ride we walked back to the Wild Florida Wildlife Park which was so awesome. I’m going to be sharing a bunch of pictures and info on that with you very soon so stay tuned! We had the best time on this airboat ride. It was such a unique, memorable experience, definitely one of the highlights of any family vacation we’ve ever taken. I highly, highly recommend visiting Wild Florida the next time you’re traveling in Central Florida. It’s worth the trip and then some! Check out the different options for airboat ride tickets. They even do nighttime rides (awesome!) and private events.