KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Agents and operators with economy-minded clients
can include a choice of smaller attractions around Walt Disney
World to fill in a free morning or afternoon. Costs are nominal
compared with the major parks. A sampling follows:
The 11,500-acre Disney Wilderness Preserve, which opened last
November, offers no thrill rides or robotic figures, and its
inhabitants have little in common with those at Disney's Animal
The preserve's wildlife includes bald eagles, armadillos,
otters, sand hill cranes, deer, lizards, frogs and other reptiles,
butterflies and bobcats.
"It has a great variety of wildlife, and it's home to the
largest concentration of nesting bald eagles in the southeastern
U.S.," said Robert Dent, community outreach manager for the Nature
The preserve has an Educational Learning Center encompassing
exhibits and hiking trails that meander through and around marshes,
forests, lakes and ranch land.
But despite the Disney tie-in, the preserve is so unlike Disney
parks. While it welcomes visitors and tour groups, it does not want
too much traffic.
"I don't think most people want to visit a nature preserve and
be confronted with hordes of people. We're not looking for hundreds
and hundreds of visitors daily. We're looking more for dozens and
dozens," Dent said.
Small groups are welcome, according to Dent. His nonprofit
organization purchases land worldwide and attempts to preserve
Groups or individuals can take in a guided Saturday morning
walk, included in the cost of admission -- $4 for ages 6 to adult
and free for younger children. The preserve itself can be toured
alone (hiking trails) for $2 for adults and $1 for ages 6 to
Another option is an open-style buggy vehicle with a canopy,
seating up to 20 passengers for a guided tour every Sunday at 1:30
The cost is $7 for visitors ages 19 and older; $5 for children
ages 6 to 18. The cost for younger children is $1, but infants are
Motorcoach tour passengers must disembark. Use of such large
vehicles is not practical because of the lack of roads in the
preserve.The venerable Gatorland, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is a
popular stop. The 110-acre marshland is home to 4,000 alligators,
including 70 "maneating" types from the Nile River.
A 2,000-foot-long boardwalk winds through a cypress swamp,
enabling visitors to get a close look at flowers, wildlife,
breeding pens, alligator nurseries and other sights. There also are
daily animal shows.
Gatorland, which describes itself as a half-day attraction, is
stepping up its group activity.
It has handled groups as large as 700, and a spokeswoman
estimated that one-third of the park's business comes from
Admission is $16.93 for adults and $7.48 for children ages 3 to
9. Children ages 2 and younger are admitted free.JungleLand Zoo is a seven-acre wildlife park that is home to
more than 500 animals, representing 75 species from around the
world. There also is a half-mile nature trail. Admission is $11.95
for adults, $9.95 for seniors and $6.94 for children ages 3 to
A spokeswoman said discounts are available for groups of 20 or
more. Guided or self-guided tours are also available.Horse World Riding Stables has 750 acres of sandy trails.
A basic entry-level ride costs $29.95 and takes less than an
Outings for more experienced riders are also available.