Well, unfortunately, there are no airboat rides right in downtown Orlando. Nope! Not a one. There’s quite a bunch around Orlando though and here’s a bit of information about them along with a description and a video of an Everglades airboat ride for a better understanding of what you may experience.
Expect the following as part of your Florida airboat ride.
You will likely be sitting on a comfortable bench-type seat in a fairly large, flat bottomed, blunt nosed boat.
You may be up close and personal with a bunch of other visitors on the same bench seat as yours, depending on how many folks booked or showed up for that same boat ride. Perhaps there is a grab rail in front of you for folks that need to hang on, an option you likely will want to take advantage of. These boats go fast!
Up behind you at the rear of the boat there usually is a raised control area with a pilot or pilots that control the airboat. During your airboat ride these folks will probably tell you all about – when the engine is not running for sure – the local birds, animals and greenery you will or may see as your airboat glides over the water, grass and spatterdock.
What is spatterdock?
No, I had not heard the term spatterdock before, though where I come from up north, we call what looks like spatterdock lily pads or water lilies. If you wish more info about spatterdock, visit site: aquaplant.tamu.edu .
Some airboat ride organizers provide soft, insert-type ear plugs to protect passengers from the loud motor/prop noise. Other airboat operators may provide full size, clamp-over-your-head ear defenders. Regardless of the type of ear protection provided, make sure there is some. The engine(s) driving the big prop(s) are very, very loud!
After a brief introduction and the talk about what may be seen, the pilot will fire up the huge, aircraft type engine. The propeller will start turning, the noise ricocheting around the Everglades and even perhaps startling a bird or two into the air. The airboat will begin to glide over the water, slowly at first, and then, in conjunction with the increasing throaty roar of the engine athe boat accelerates, now hurtling along, with the wind whipping into your eyes and your air flying.
Note: Watch out for the grass alongside the boat if sitting at either edge of the boat. The Florida grass grows tall, and often bends towards and can enter the passenger area. As your airboat goes flying by, the grass tips can and do whip exposed skin… or even an exposed eye!
A video we took about our airboat ride
Since we were on a road trip to visit the Keys anyway, we decided to take an airboat ride from one of those ride operators on the Tamiami Trail. The Tamiami trail used to be the main highway between Miami and Tampa, and crosses Florida at the north tip of the Everglades. The trail is a nice drive all by itself with scads of gators to be seen along much of the north side of the Trail, in the water-filled ditches and sloughs.
Here’s the video of our first airboat ride:
Orlando Airboat Tour companies
The following is a list of the airboat companies I’ve been able to locate around the greater Orlando area.
Airboat Rides at Boggy Creek
- Location: 2001 E. Southport Rd., Kissimmee FL 34746
- Distance: about 35 miles south from #408 & #4 in downtown Orlando
- Tel: 407-344-9550
- Web: www.bcairboats.com
Cypress lake Airboat Tours
- Location: 3301 Lake Cypress Rd, Kenansville FL 34739
- Distance: about 41 miles south from #408 & #4 in downtown Orlando
- Tel: 407-957-2277
- Web: www.cypresslakeairboattours.com
Orlando Airboat Tours
- 4275 Neptune Road, St Cloud, Florida 34769
- Distance: about 30 miles south from #408 & #4 in downtown Orlando
- Tel: 407-572-3561
- Web: orlandoairboattours.com
Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Rides
- 2830 Neptune Road Kissimmee, FL
- Distance: about 27 miles from downtown Orlando
- Tel: 321-689-6893
- Web: www.spiritoftheswamp.com
Wild Bill’s Airboat Tours
- Location: 12430 E. Gulf to Lake Hwy, Inverness FL 34450
- Distance: about 63 miles north west from #408 & #4 in downtown Orlando
- Tel: 352-726-6060
- Web: www.wbairboats.com