Animals are everywhere in Florida, and there are countless opportunities to meet creatures of all species and sizes from across the globe. These are just some of the animal interactions you definitely don’t want to miss.
Swimming with Dolphins at Discovery Cove
Swimming with the Dolphins at Discovery Cove was everything wed dreamed it would be and the time in the water with these incredible creatures was wonderful. The photos take pride of place in our home, and if you come back from Florida without having smooched a cetacean you’ve missed out. A sentence I never thought Id write.
Feeding Giraffes at Busch Gardens
This is an experience that perhaps gets less attention than some others, but for us the Serengeti Safari at Busch Gardens is always a Florida trip highlight. The opportunity to hand feed Giraffes is simply amazing and I cant explain just how serene, gentle and graceful these incredible creatures are. A new one for your bucket list
Snorkelling with Rays and Sharks
Don’t panic – this isn’t a terrifying dive into the deep with anything man-eating, but its still not for the faint hearted! At both Discovery Cove and Typhoon Lagoon, there are opportunities to don your snorkel and get closer than is entirely comfortable with some huge beasts of the sea.
At Typhoon Lagoons man-made Shark Reef you can swim through water filled with Bonnethead and Leopard sharks, and some enormous stingrays that could definitely be a distraction from all the gorgeous tropical fish!
At Discovery Cove things get even bigger – you can spend hours in the huge Grand Reef surrounded by thousands of fish and rays, plus there’s the added opportunity of upgrading to SeaVenture which sees you fully kitted out in dive helmets, walking among the fish on the reef bed. You’ll also come face-to-face with Reef Sharks (don’t worry, they’re behind a window!) before feeding the fish as they swim all around and above you!
The Alligator Airboat Ride
The Central Florida swamps, marshes and rivers provide a stunning glimpse into Florida’s origins, and the only way visitors can explore this beautiful wilderness is by airboat. With all kinds of incredible nature on display including alligators, wild birds, eagles and water-dwelling cattle as well as beautiful plant life, this really is worth dragging yourself away from the theme parks.
Wild Florida offer an airboat tour captained by an experienced guide, which ventures into over 100,000 acres of their protected nature reserve. Even more gator goodness is included in the ticket with entry into their animal park where you can get up-close with these awesome reptiles.
Go Behind the Scenes at SeaWorld
In 2013 SeaWorld opened their Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin attraction which proved a huge hit with families from day one. The fun and fascinating Penguins Up-Close tour takes you behind the scenes to interact with the lovable stars of this attraction, as well as meeting the keepers to learn more about the penguins lives.
Tip: The Penguins Up-Close tour is only available to buy in the park, so head to guest services to book your place!
The Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom
The Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney World takes you on a 20-minute journey through the Harambe Wildlife reserve, through different environments and past all kinds of African creatures! Keep your eyes peeled as your Disney guide talks to you about the wildlife on show and you should see lions, cheetahs, crocodiles and some incredible elephants to name just a few.
Tip: Aim to do this experience early in the day as its very popular!
Swim with Manatees
Crystal River (about 90 minutes drive from International Drive) is one of the few places in the world that you can legally swim with Manatees in Florida- so this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss! Snorkelling equipment provided, the on hand experts can lead your interactions with these wonderful marine creatures before you’re given the chance to visit Homosassa State Wildlife Park. To protect the environment for the Manatee, places are limited so its crucial to book in advance. Fact: The Manatee is better known as a Sea Cow due to its grassy diet and appearance, but they’re actually close relatives of the Elephant!