You are here

Home  >  Blog  >  Strings Attached
Strings Attached

Forever Florida's Zipline Safari takes guests on a thrill ride in the treetops

Sometimes ecotourism means camping out in the jungles of Madagascar. Other times, it's whale watching in Indonesia. Today, as I glide through lush forests at speeds up to 25 mph, ecotourism equals ziplining in Osceola County.

And I'm enjoying every minute of it. As I climb the tower to the first "zip" at Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida, a 4,700-acre wildlife conservation haven, the guide explains that this Old Florida parcel of land actually includes nine beautifully preserved ecosystems.

Let me be upfront with this: I'm a fan of almost any activity requiring a waiver and helmet. Even so, many types-from 8-year-olds to grandmothers-have found this thrill ride enjoyable; as long as they are not afraid of heights.

As for me, I have no hesitation as I hurl myself off the launch pad. Between the "whees" and "wahooies," I take in deep whiffs of jasmine and sounds of nearby owls. The surrounding lush and rugged landscape, however, is hard to focus on while I'm whizzing through the treetop canopies. My eyes are peeled for bald eagles and black bears, which are both known to roam these parts.

Conservation is, in fact, Forever Florida's raison d'être. The owners, Dr. William and Margaret Broussard, lost their son to Hodgkin's disease nearly 20 years ago. The last wish of the 29-year-old-a wildlife ecologist and biologist-was that they protect the surrounding ecosystems. In turn, the couple painstakingly amassed the Forever Florida property, parcel by parcel, from the more than 500 people who had snatched it up during the 1960s and 1970s.

Now, with 4,700 acres, they have a significant focus on minimal disruption to the environment, and the whole zipline system was built and is maintained with that focus in mind. Not coincidentally, some of the profits from Forever Florida's eco tours are donated to the conservation effort.

At the end of the session we make our way back to the safari buggy, a swamp mobile made of recycled car parts. And, as if the zipline weren't cool enough, we trot down a section of the Florida Trail, one of eight national historic pathways running from South Florida to the Panhandle.

The ride back offers plenty of sights. To the right: the largest herd of Cracker Cattle in the state, a critically endangered breed that the Broussards are committed to protecting. To the left: bromeliads above and neon-green duckweed crowding the ponds below.

These wide-open spaces are completely untouched and exactly what they were intended to be. If ever there were a place begging you to savor the tonic of nature, this is it. No doubt, ziplines have come a long way since my dad built one off our South Carolina treehouse in the early 1980s. But the thrill of gliding through the trees is exactly the same.

Download the Kissimmee Area Guide to map out exciting outdoor adventures for your vacation to Kissimmee, Florida.

Travel Tricks & Insider Tips

Film equipment

Getting Whelmed with Tyler Measom

January 21, 2020 by
We sat down with award-winning director Tyler Measom to discuss his new film, Finding Whelmed, and what this new phenomenon is all about.
Continue Reading

Where to Watch the Big Game in Kissimmee

January 16, 2020 by Experience Kissimmee
We share the top places to catch the Big Game in Kissimmee, FL.
Continue Reading

Sticking With Your New Year's Resolution While on Vacation in Kissimmee

January 08, 2020 by Experience Kissimmee
Want to make sure you stick to your New Year's resolution while on vacation? We can help!
Continue Reading

Kissimmee 2020: What’s New and What’s Next

January 02, 2020 by Experience Kissimmee
A new year means new rides, attractions, and restaurants! Here's a sneak peek at what's new and what’s next for your 2020 visit. 
Continue Reading
A family walks together in bathing suits in Kissimmee

The 2019 Kissimmee Round Up

December 26, 2019 by Experience Kissimmee
Vacationers took awesome photos this year in Kissimmee, and now we're sharing some of our favorites with you!
Continue Reading
A child slides down the ice slide at ICE!

Five Holiday Wonders in Kissimmee

December 19, 2019 by Experience Kissimmee
Want to be on every nice list this year? Then be sure to visit these five must-do activities while visiting this sunny version of a “wintery” wonderland.
Continue Reading