A Wildlife Safari Family Travel Experience Less Than an Hour from Disney World

Did you know you can take the entire family on a safari when visiting Florida? A Safari Wilderness tour will create one of a kind memories that are sure to last far beyond the fireworks and mouse ears. I believe that travel is one of the best educations I can give my kids. I was thrilled to have the experience to share with them a unique safari adventure while taking a 3 Day Weekend Family Getaway in Central Florida. With a convenient location between Tampa and Orlando, Polk County is an ideal location for a family vacation. Polk County offers so many unique attractions a short distance from Disney World and worth the drive to visit places like Safari Wilderness Ranch. 

Safari Wilderness Ranch is not your ordinary Florida theme park animal safari experience. I am a fan of theme parks, they provide some fun family memories. But there is more to Florida than theme parks, and trust when I say this is not anything like the animal viewing rides you can take at the nearby parks. Safari Wilderness Ranch limits the number of guests on the property at a given time making this an exclusive, fun and educational family adventure. During this unique Florida tour, you will learn about Florida’s history, their conservation programs, and encounter many animals that are endangered or extinct in the wild. There are a number of things to do with the kids at Safari Wilderness Ranch in addition to the safari tour. 

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5 Reasons to visit Safari Wilderness with you kids

Taking our kids on a safari in Africa is on my bucket list. If you are like me, taking the kids on an African safari is not possible to do at this time for a number of reasons. However, there are a few safari opportunities in the United States that are easy to get to. Safari Wilderness Ranch is conveniently located in Central Florida. This makes safari wilderness an excellent add-on to a Florida vacation. Here are five reasons you should take your kids to Safari Wilderness on your next Florida vacation.

  1. It is an amazing learning experience for all ages. Besides my own learning, my five-year-old was soaking up all kinds of new information and my daughter was in a constant three-year-old state of surprise. Our tour guide gave tons of interesting facts about the animals from their personalities to their eating habits and lifestyle in the wild. 
  2. You will have a unique family bonding experience. It is not every day that you will learn new things at the same time your child does. Sharing these learning moments and seeing things for the first time together creates a unique bond that will last a lifetime. Funny stories about the animals will make for interesting conversations for years to come. “Remember that time the water buffalo got snot all over mom.”
  3. Reminds everyone that the world is so much bigger that what you see around you. I believe that it is so important to open a child’s eyes to the vast world we live in. Yes seeing animals from afar can teach you about new creatures but there is something special about an up close encounter. Getting to touch them, witness their personalities and see how the animals are just as curious as we are, truly is a different experience than looking at them through a glass window.
  4. Provides an understanding that we all need to slow down, listen and look around. The safari is not a quick experience with exact expectations. Wildlife is unpredictable and cannot be rushed. This may be a very unusual experience for most kids because the ride stops, you listen and look around. You wait on the animals, look around to see what is out there. For my son, this was a very new concept to him. Society teaches kids to be on a schedule and to rush through things. It was obvious how much he appreciated the time to be curious and soak it all in.
  5. Spotting animals is also magical. On the Safari Wilderness tour, you ride through a number of pastures that cover the 250+ acres of land unsure of what you will encounter. When you see them in the distance or right beside you, it is an indescribable moment of excitement. These animals live on the land very similar to the way they would in their natural habitat. This is not a zoo or a theme park.  The ranch staff only intervene in their lifestyle when it is essentially necessary for the animals’ survival.

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A Central Florida Family Vacation

Central Florida is the perfect family vacation destination because of its ideal location between two major attraction cities: Tampa and Orlando. There are so many unique family-friendly attractions in Polk County, known as Central Florida to most. You can read about our other family adventures in the Central Florida destination to help you plan a memorable Florida vacation: Safari Wilderness, LEGOLAND, Bok Tower Gardens, and more are located 45 miles from the Mouse. Make sure to set aside several hours of your vacation to include the Safari Wilderness Tour as a must do on your Florida vacation itinerary. Below is a look at our family experience on a vehicle safari tour.

Customized Vehicle Safari Tour at Safari Wilderness Ranch

There are four different adventures to choose from at Safari Wilderness: Vehicle Safari, Camel Expedition, Kayak Safari and Llama Trek. Having a three-year-old daughter limited us to one type of tour, so we took the Customized Vehicle Safari on a Sunday afternoon. I do think it would be fun my husband and I to go back to do the kayak tour for a different type of experience.

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Before you go

You can book your tour online. You will receive a confirmation email with reservation information and FYI details to prepare for your arrival. Wear closed-toe shoes, cool clothes and bring sunscreen. It is recommended to arrive 30 minutes before to allow everyone to check-in, use the restroom (it is a 2+ hour tour) and look around before boarding the vehicle. We made sure to talk about this many times with our kids before going and limited their fluids an hour or so before the tour to make sure they would make it through the tour without a potty incident.

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The safari vehicle tour is comfortable and shady

Once you board the vehicle, your tour guide (we had Emily – she was awesome) will give you some safety rules and an overview of what is ahead. Then you are off on a fun animal adventure. The tour guide stops a lot to share information, fun facts and give you a good look at the exotic animals. I never felt rushed or like I missed anything. Everyone had the freedom to ask any questions as we went along which gave so many perspectives to the experience. Feeding the animals was a highlight that everyone on the tour enjoyed.

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Feeding Lemurs at Safari Wilderness Ranch

After our two and half hour Customized Vehicle Safari tour, we got a chance to meet and feed ring-tailed lemurs. Lemurs are fun to watch.  They were so excited to have us visit, they all lined up to take grapes from our hands one at a time. I was so surprised at how soft their hands are and how they wanted to grasp my hand before taking the grape. This experience is an additional fee, but the experience with these eager lemurs will be a great way to end this memorable day.

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Though the cost for the Safari Wilderness is not cheap, it is well worth the $75 per person and a way to experience a wildlife safari without flying to Africa. If you are like me, this will make you want to start researching more safaris in far away lands next!

If you are planning a Florida Vacation, be sure to check out all of A Cupful of Carters Florida Destination Guides, Tips and Attraction Reports here.

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A note from Mandy at ACupful: Visit Central Florida coordinated some details of our family’s media trip for the purpose of sharing family destinations tt our readers. As always, all opinions and fun are my own.

I want to inspire parents to explore and create with their kids! And encourage women to pursue their dreams. In addition to my favorite job of being the mother to two crazy little kids, I am the owner of a freelance marketing business, a family travel writer, and blogger. Let’s connect!