Most People Have No Idea This Incredible Disney Nature Preserve Even Exists
Did you know there’s a Disney park that has no admission fee?
There are also no lines, no characters, and no rides – just thousands of acres of restored natural beauty and hundreds of different species of plants and animals. Welcome to The Disney Wilderness Preserve, an area near Kissimmee now protected by The Nature Conservancy.
Though you might associate Disney more with development than conservation, the original 8,500 acres was purchased and given to The Nature Conservancy to help offset some of the environmental impact of Walt Disney World. The land that was once a cattle ranch was facing a residential and commercial overhaul when it was purchased in the ’90s. Today, it is a model of successful land restoration and plays a role in improving water quality in the Greater Everglades watershed.
Hiking through the preserve’s marshes, flatwood, scrub, oak hammock and cypress swamps, you can expect to see bald eagles, fox squirrels, red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, sandhill cranes, and more. Check out some photos taken at The Disney Wilderness Preserve below:
The Nature Conservancy’s page for the preserve included this quote giving Walt Disney’s thoughts on nature:
“Landscapes of great wonder and beauty lie under our feet and all around us. They are discovered in tunnels in the ground, the hearts of flowers, the hollows of trees, fresh-water ponds, seaweed jungles between tides, and even drops of water. Life in these hidden worlds is more startling in reality than anything we can imagine.”
Preserve hours: Monday-Friday from 9:00am to 4:30pm. Closed major holidays. Call ahead at (407) 935-0002 to confirm hours. Though there’s no fee, donations are appreciated.
Looking for more awesome places to go hiking? Check out our list of the best hiking spots in Florida.