Move over Mickey, Wild Florida made my dream really come true!
A friend of mine invited me to check out Wild Florida, which is a wild animal park/airboat tour company located near Saint Cloud, Florida. The park, which is located just 45 minutes from Walt Disney World offers airboat tours, a wild animal park, animal encounters, food and more! I am not going to lie, when I heard about this place my expectations were low. I have been on many airboats and to know that a wild animal park was added for free with a boat tour I thought this place was going to be a joke. No spoilers, but my expectations were blown out of the water!
Lets start out with the basics! Wild Florida Airboats and Wild Animal Park is located at 3301 Lake Cypress Rd in Kenansville, FL. Don’t let the address scare you as it is closer to St. Cloud (only 12 miles off the turnpike). If you want to visit their website you can do so here.
What does Wild Florida have to offer?
- FREE Admission to Wildlife Park with all Airboat Tours
- FREE Live Alligator Handling Demonstration (photos not included)
- Unforgettable Day, Night & Private Airboat Tours
- Explore the Headwaters of the Everglades
- No Development, No Houses, No Signs of Civilization Guaranteed on Airboat Tours
- Exciting 13-acre nature park with zebra, watusi, water buffalo, deer, turkey, zedonk, emu, monster alligators and much more!
- Live Alligators to Hold & Take Pictures With
- Tropical Bird Aviary
- Breathtaking 500 ft. Scenic Dock
- Amazing Boardwalk Through Natural Cypress Swamp Ecosystem
- Wildlife Park
- BBQ Food
- Unique Gift Shop
When I arrived at Wild Florida, I could tell just how nice the facility was. Everything was beautiful, fresh paint, and updated. I went to the gift shop to check in and was met by one of the owner/managers Sam. Sam took me around the wild animal park to show me some of the animals he was most proud of and little to my knowledge to give me the experience of a lifetime!
One of the first places we went to was called Hawk Swamp. Hawk Swamp showcased hawks as well as how the swamp looked here in Central Florida before they were destroyed. This area was one of my favorites because of the natural beauty, and the sound. I wish I could describe just how beautiful the sound was in there but you will need to check it out for yourself.
We then went to the Gator Pond to see some of the gators that call Wild Florida their home. This pond holds around 50 alligators from the area. These gators were not caught and brought to the park but were donated to the park from catchers. In Florida, nuisance gators either need to be relocated to captivity such as a zoo or park like Wild Florida, or be killed. Every gator at Wild Florida was donated by the catchers instead of being killed. We then fed some of the gators just so I could see just how big some of the gators were!
After seeing the gators in the pond, I got some hands on time with Fluffy. Fluffy is one of the gators they use for education and PR for the park. Fluffy has been all over the US to spread information to kids and kids at heart about alligators, safety as well as Wild Florida. I got to take a picture with Fluffy and see just how he felt!
Wild Florida’s newest attraction is for a Florida Bobcat. Needless to say, I was talked into going into the habitat not knowing what to expect or what I would encounter. I wish the camera was on my face when I first saw the bobcat. I was face to face with the cutest 8 week old bobcat cub that I have ever seen in my entire life! I throughly enjoyed sitting on the rocks playing with the cub and letting it pounce on me! It’s not every day you can say you got bit in the face (well ear) by a bobcat and lived to tell the tale!
Ok… here is the life-changing part of my story. Sam told me that he wanted to show me something that no one knew about. We went behind the scenes and spoke with one of the keepers who brought out the surprise they had for me… a BABY SLOTH! The sloth was born at Wild Florida a few weeks ago and had not been announced to the general public! I am man enough to tell you that I teared up a bit being able to pet and take pictures of the new baby sloth. As of today, the baby has not been named (but I would love to have a Sloth named after me or the website… lets make it happen Sam!) So far I am pushing for either Cy as they are located on Cypress Lake, Jas because I am Jason or Teags as my step-daughter’s name is Teagan.
We then went off to have a Sloth encounter. I had the opportunity to feed, pet and of course take a Slothie (selfie) with the sloth. I also got to interact with some of the cool birds in the enclosure who are related to the toucan family! I loved how much time I had with the sloth and how much information I received about the species and the actual animals that I was interacting with!
After my sloth encounter, I was off for my hour airboat tour around the swamp and lake. These airboats fit either 17 or 6 people based on the day and the boat you are in. We went out to explore the area and saw a ton of wildlife from alligators, birds, bald eagles and even cows! We also saw the natural beauty of this area in its natural state! I hope to come back in the fall and do the tour again to see the difference!
Lunch at the Chomp House Grill:
After the airboat tour, I headed over to the Chomp House Grill to see Chef Ramon. The Chomp House Grill was started as a food truck and turned into the operation you see today. Chef Ramon serves some unique and amazing food from BBQ, turtle, gator, and more! For the unadventurous there are of course chicken, burgers and more as well! I chose the Gator Po Boy and fries. The sandwich was amazing! The gator was cooked perfectly and the sauce was to die for! Chef Ramon has a hit on his hands with the Chomp House Grill for sure!
So what did I really think of Wild Florida? First off, I have been on my share of airboats in this city and now I am questioning why they are still open. The airboat tours at Wild Florida are the exact same price as the other tours and this one offers a wild animal park for free as well! If you want to ride an airboat, then Wild Florida is the best choice hands down!
As far as the animals go, Wild Florida cares about the visual side as well as the health and happiness of the animals. The enclosures are very well taken care of and you can tell the animals are taken care of extremely well also! The price point for some amazing up close encounters are cheap for only 20 bucks! I know that I would have paid a lot more to pet and feed the sloth!
The food also was amazing. Being that the park is in the middle of nowhere you need some good food to support an amazing park like Wild Florida. Chef Ramon cares about the quality and taste of what he puts out and it shows in both the restaurant and his product! My only regret about the Chomp House Grill and Chef Ramon? I just wish they were closer to me so I could eat it more often!
The staff at Wild Florida were super helpful, nice, and attentive of myself and the other guests. It is rare to go to an attraction in Central Florida and have an experience like I did with the staff. I did not see one bad thing from any of the staff members at Wild Florida. Everyone did their jobs and did them well to ensure the guests were happy and would want to come back again!
Overall, Wild Florida is my pick for the top hidden gem in Central Florida. I have done many attractions but have not found one executed as flawlessly as Wild Florida! I know if you go there, you will have a great time as well! With that said, how would you like to experience Wild Florida for yourself? Wild Florida was nice enough to donate a magical day for one of my amazing readers! With the day, you and a guest will get:
- A 1 hour tour on the airboats
- Entrance to the Wild Animal Park
- Sloth Encounter for 2
- Lunch at the Chomp House Grill
- Possible surprises along the way!
Enter this amazing contest here and let me know what you think of Wild Florida below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway