Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Osceola County's Wild Florida announces massive expansion, more than doubling in size

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2020 at 9:31 AM

  • Image via PRNewsfoto/Wild Florida
As screens take over ever more aspects of our daily lives, Wild Florida has found success by offering an alternative. The Osceola County nature attraction is only 10 years old this year, but it has gained a reputation as one of the region’s best offerings. Now the 85-acre attraction has announced its most significant expansion to date, less than a year after an addition which, at the time, held that very same title.

Built out of the bones of an old fish camp on the shores of Lake Cypress, Wild Florida began as a simple airboat attraction based in Kenansville. Within a few years, a small 14-acre gator park was added. Since then, the gator park, a misnomer today, has expanded to include animals from around the world, live shows, and a boardwalk through a nearby swamp. The original fish camp is now home to a large gift shop that’s currently being expanded and a small counter-service restaurant where the park’s signature "Swamp Slushy" is served in mason jar mugs.
click to enlarge Hawk Swamp along Wild Florida's Gator Park boardwalk - IMAGE VIA KEN STOREY
  • Image via Ken Storey
  • Hawk Swamp along Wild Florida's Gator Park boardwalk

The attraction saw its largest expansion to date open in December when a $2.5-million drive-thru safari experience was added. The 85-acre safari attraction allows visitors to see zebras, scimitar oryx, wildebeests, Asian antelope, Watusi cattle, American bison, and other animals along a mostly cageless 2-mile path.

Along with the drive-thru safari, the expansion also includes a giraffe feeding attraction and a second gift ship. Many of the animals on the safari and in the gator park are rehomed or rescued animals unable to be released into the wild. Compared to other animal attractions in the state, Wild Florida’s animal habitats are surprisingly large and well maintained.

In the middle of the Safari Park is a large gator pond where nuisance gators that would otherwise be euthanized now call home.

Since reopening in early summer, the drive-thru safari has proven to be a hit with the attraction hitting capacity nearly every weekend since early June.

Now Wild Florida has purchased an additional 185-acres with plans to expand their offerings while rehoming additional rescued and relocated animals.

“This beautiful property will be an incredible experience for our guests,” says Ranier Munns, co-owner of Wild Florida. “Florida summers can be brutally hot. Our vision has been to create an easier way to explore the beauty of natural Florida and learn about wildlife around the world from your air-conditioned car.”

Specifics on what the expansion will entail have yet to be shared, but previously co-owner Sam Haught had indicated that they were looking into potentially adding a zipline. In speaking about the previous expansion, co-owner Daniel Munns explained, "We are always trying to think of bigger and better things for our guests at Wild Florida.”
click to enlarge Wild Florida's Safari Park - IMAGE VIA KEN STOREY
  • Image via Ken Storey
  • Wild Florida's Safari Park

Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 13, 2021

View more issues


© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation