Ladies and gents, lose the makeup and ditch the dress attire, because airboating at Wild Willy’s in Central Florida is the perfect opportunity to let loose and get in touch with nature (although I still recommend wearing deodorant/antiperspirant, as you do sit quite close to your neighbor).
Taking a ride on an airboat has been something I have wanted to do since I moved to Central Florida two years ago. However, selecting the “perfect” place to take the tour was very important to me. Not only was I seeking a company that would offer a unique experience, but I was also looking for one that cared about the land and animals it was showcasing. Some airboating companies offer hunting excursions for gators and other animals, and this Bambi scarred child just could not support that. Wild Willy’s was exactly what I was looking for.
A short drive south of Orlando, they are conveniently located in St. Cloud on Lake Tohopekaliga, headwaters of the Everglades. If you purchase your tickets in advance on their website, a one hour tour is $34.25 for an adult and $29.58 for a child between 3-12 years old (prices do not include tax). If you purchase tickets once you arrive, they are $5 more expensive per person.
If you have time to wait before the tour begins, there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied. Wild Willy’s back deck overlooking the lake is the perfect backdrop for picture-taking. You could browse their gift shop or hold Sergio & Cricket, their pet alligators. You can even watch as the staff give them a massage (and I thought my beagle was spoiled…). If you are from Chicago, you can use this opportunity to make Sergio & Cricket Cubs fans (as they obviously wouldn’t be Sox fans).
When your boat is ready, your Captain will come and escort you on board. You will receive a brief safety lesson that includes directions should anything go awry. Basically, if the bottom of the boat suddenly becomes the top, swim. Now that we have the essentials covered, we are ready to push-off! Put your ear muffs on folks, these boats are incredibly loud. Sit back, relax and just enjoy the sights of nature.
Our tour lasted a little longer than an hour, with several stops along the way where our Captain explained different facts about the wildlife and ecosystem. In addition to our learning moments, Captain Dan incorporated his genuine humor and personality into the tour which made it truly a one-of-a-kind experience. I would imagine other airboats have similar learning facts, but finding a guide that can get you to ooo, ahh, gasp and laugh is a rare find. Kudos to Wild Willy’s for creating an outstanding experience overall that my family will remember a lifetime.