Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Gatorland (read our original review) A Kissimmee staple since 1949, Gatorland pre-dates the area’s most notable draw – Walt Disney World. Gatorland is an affordable day of genuine Central Florida fun. “The alligator capital of the world”, Gatorland is home to more than 2,000 American Alligators, including two rare leucistic gators. A wide array of birds, crocodiles, tortoises, wild cats, also reside in this 110-acre preserve, which features educational demonstrations and interactive experiences as well as the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line and the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure. This has always ranked as one of my family’s unanimous favorites, and it’s quite possibly the best value in the area. There are always specials, and easy add-ons to upgrade your experience. It’s a very memorable, unpredictable day of learning, bonding, and pure unadulterated Florida! There’s food on site and plenty of places to sit and just observe. Many extras and they just keep growing. Make sure to take your camera, because these may be some of the best photo ops of your visit!
Safari Wilderness (read our original review) Nestled within the wilderness surrounded by 870 acres of Florida’s Green Swamp, Safari Wilderness is a family-owned, licensed working game ranch located between Orlando and Tampa. Safari Wilderness offers very limited, exclusive encounters with large herds of exotic game over 260 acres of pristine wilderness. Guests can choose from guided safari tours in covered vehicles, on camels, or in kayaks, as well as sunset safaris. Options upgrades allow you to add on feeding experiences for up-close-and-personal encounters. You can also check out their sister location – Giraffe Ranch, with additional tour options by Segway or llama, and even more personal interaction options with assorted species from Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Safari Wilderness Ranch and Giraffe Ranch are Florida agritourism projects licensed by the USDA.
Wild Florida (read our original review) Wild Florida is home to more than 200 animals and an assortment of “pure” Florida experiences. Incorporating an animal park with airboat rides, guests have the option of catching wildlife on land or in the water…. but of course, we recommend both! Choose from a half-hour, full-hour, or sunset airboat tours on Lake Cypress. The separately-priced animal park is only $10, and can be visited with or without the airboat tour inclusion. Add-on animal encounters include goat yoga, sloth experiences, gator training, dining with a gator, and the “keeper for a day” experience. Educational animal demonstrations go on all day long, and Wild Florida is set to open a drive-through safari experience soon (the first of its kind in Central Florida)!
Exotic Animal Experience Located on seven acres of land in East Orlando, Exotic Animal Experience is a privately-owned facility where an entirely diverse menagerie of animals cohabitate essentially as a blended-species family. More than 40 animals call E.A.E. home, including sloths, lemurs, kangaroos, muntjac deer and many more. Visits are scheduled in advance, from Thursdays through Sundays only, and groups are kept to a minimum.
Jungle Adventures Another location boasting a genuine “cracker” experience, Jungle Adventures is” the natural habitat jungle home” of a range of fascinating residents, such as Florida panthers, black bears, wolves, white-tailed deer, tropical birds, reptiles, and other critters. Enjoy hands-on animal experiences, gator feedings, a ride on the Jungle Swamp Queen Riverboat, and a re-created Native American village.
Brevard Zoo More than 900 animals call Brevard Zoo home. Attend daily “Keeper Chats” to learn all about the individual residents, and take advantage of personal encounter opportunities. There are lots of educational, hands-on possibilities… especially for children. For an additional fee, you can feed giraffe, kayak through Expedition Africa, mingle with lemurs, and more. Head over to Treetop Trek to soar through lush Florida landscapes and see the zoo from above!
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens The Central Florida Zoo is home to more than 350 animals, representing over 100 different species. Enhance your standard zoo experience with keeper chats, splash pad play, animal encounters, and a stroll through the vibrant botanical gardens. For a nominal fee, you can add-on train and carousel rides as well as a tour on the ZOOm Air aerial adventure course! Central Florida Zoo hosts many unique social and educational events throughout the year.
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey The Audubon Center works to protect land, water, and wildlife as Florida’s most influential conservation organization overseeing multiple sanctuaries and leading efforts to preserve the Everglades, coastal bird habitats, and more. Open year-round, Audubon Center for Birds of Prey offers educational opportunities for all ages. The Center provides an opportunity to view up close and personal Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Kites, Owls and Falcons, and many more of nature’s top predators.
Do you know of a worthwhile animal adventure in the Orlando-area that we have overlooked? We’d love to hear about it – drop us an email to share your suggestions!