Dolphins and gators and sloths, oh my! It’s more than just humans who call Kissimmee home. In fact, there are thousands of animals thriving here in Central Florida — and plenty of unique opportunities to experience them for yourself. If your heart is set for a walk on the wild side, this is the place to be. Here are five animal experiences you can have right here in Kissimmee. And as an added bonus, we’ll be sharing some astonishing animal facts as we go. After all, we love animal facts.
1. Take A #Slothie at Wild Florida
Sure, you’ve definitely heard of a selfie, but have you ever heard of a #Slothie? They’re a must-do experience at Wild Florida! As part of Wild Florida’s Sloth Encounter, you’ll explore their fascinating South American exhibit and chill out with a real two-toed sloth (trust us, these low-energy animals absolutely adore chilling out). That’s not all, however, as the South American exhibit is also home to colorful birds and lounging lizards for you to catch a glimpse of.
Want to take your experience to the next level? Try the VIP Sloth Experience, which offers an opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with a snuggly sloth — literally! In addition to being able to hold and interact with a sloth, you’ll also take an unforgettable slothie (which, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is a selfie with a sloth). Learning about wildlife and making a new friend? Sounds like an experience to remember forever!
Did You Know? For animals that have a lazy reputation, sloths sure are strong. From the day they’re born, sloths can lift their entire body weight with just one arm. And they need all that strength, considering they’re known to hang upside down in trees for extended periods.
2. Become a Trainer for a Day at Gatorland
Hope to make a career out of your love for animals? Then how about getting a head start at Gatorland? With their Trainer For A Day experience, you’ll get a peek at what it’s like to spend each day dedicated to taking care of some seriously cool creatures.
This one-of-a-kind experience will bring you face to face with some of Gatorland’s largest alligators and crocodiles. You’ll hand feed them lunch (yes, you read that correctly), learn all about what makes them so unique from Gatorland’s professional trainers, and more. From the biggest animals to the smallest, you’ll also meet (surprisingly adorable) baby gators, plus snakes, birds, spiders, and turtles — just to name a few.
In addition, you’ll also go backstage and learn all about what goes into creating the fantastic shows the team at Gatorland puts on every day. It’s a crash course in the School of Croc!
Fun Fact: Alligators have a sweet tooth. Sure, alligators have a reputation as carnivores, but they also enjoy eating citrus fruits, grapes, elderberries, and more. Turns out, for gators, variety is the spice (or sweetness) of life.
3. Swim with Dolphins at Discovery Cove
Swimming with dolphins is a bucket list dream for people all over the world, and here in Kissimmee, we’ll make that dream come true. Visit Discovery Cove, where you can get nose to (bottle)nose with these intelligent and curious creatures in the Dolphin Lagoon. During this experience, a dolphin care specialist will teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dolphins, including their different habits and behaviors. Then, you’ll have the chance to interact one on one with your new dolphin friend.
But that’s not all you can experience at Discovery Cove. If you’re feeling a little braver, go from swimming with dolphins to swimming with sharks! Or grab a deep-sea helmet and go for a walk on the floor of the Grand Reef — home to colorful schools of fish and a wide variety of rays.
Fun Fact: Dolphins are very chatty. Get close to a pod of dolphins and you’re sure to hear all sorts of interesting noises, from clicks and whistles to squeaks and squawks! They love interacting with each other, and these noises are a form of communication.
4. Go Horseback Riding at Lazy H Ranch
Searching for an authentic equestrian experience? A trip to Lazy H Ranch is sure to get the hitch out of your giddy up! Owned and operated by sixth-generation Floridians, the Lazy H Ranch is the place to be for a trail ride that provides an authentic look at our region’s fascinating cattle ranching heritage.
A trot at the ranch will take you from the open prairies to shady trails under hundred-year-old oak trees, to the shores of Lake Toho, all while you have the chance to saddle up and bond with your horse. Not sure how long you want to be out on the dusty trail? No problem! Lazy H Ranch offers 60- and 90-minute rides, so you can choose the perfect length that works for everyone.
Fun Fact: The horses at Lazy H Ranch are working horses. When they’re not hitting the trails, they’re competing in rodeos and marching in parades — some of them have even taken part in photoshoots!
5. Go on Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
Calling all natural-born explorers! Does making your way across the plains of Africa in search of elusive creatures sound like the perfect way to spend the day? What if we told you there’s no need to travel all the way to Africa — you can go on a safari right here in Kissimmee. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, you can traverse the plains, shady forests, and wonderful wetlands of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, which is home to nearly three dozen unique species.
The thing that makes these safaris so special is their authenticity. Every animal here has a mind of its own, so you never know what you’ll experience. Maybe a herd of elephants will cross your vehicle’s path, or a baboon will swing by to say hello. You could see the real-life Lion King sunning himself on the rocks, a hippo relaxing in a cool pond, or a lightning-fast cheetah racing through the open fields. As you make your way throughout the reserve, an expert guide will share all kinds of animal facts and point out the different creatures that call the habitat home. Be sure to have your cameras ready!
Fun Fact: We know you’ve wondered, but maybe you’ve been too embarrassed to ask — why don’t baboons have hair on their bums? The answer is actually pretty simple, it’s more comfortable for them when they’re sitting down. Unlike other monkey species, which squat, baboons sit flat on their behinds. So instead of fur, they have permanent cushions called ischial calluses. Just like humans, comfort is essential to them!
Wild Wonders Await in Kissimmee
They say an elephant never forgets, and just like those magnificent beasts, we know you’ll never forget your incredible animal experiences here in Kissimmee. To learn even more about all the exciting things to do when visiting here (both wild and otherwise), subscribe to our newsletter.