We were in Florida for a Disney World holiday with the family (a multi-generational trip) and we wanted to do something that was a bit different to the Disney parks, so we opted for an Airboat Ride!
We’d previously seen them in action on the telly and I’d always wanted to ‘have a go’ as it looked such great fun!
So when HAT Marketing offered the opportunity to take a ride with the family while we were in Florida, I literally jumped at the chance.
We had booked a morning ride as there is more chance of seeing alligators apparently (they tend to hide more in the heat of the day) and we were instructed to be there at least half an hour before.
As we were staying on International Drive, we booked an Uber to pick us up just before 9:30 and it took just over half an hour to reach Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, located at Lake Tohopekaliga (or Lake Toho for short).
Shopping, alligators & airboats!
Once we’d checked in and put our wristbands on, we had about 20 minutes until our ride, so we had a look round the site.
The first thing the kids noticed was the onsite shop – and off they went to see what they could find; a favourite find being an alligator tooth in a jar!
Adjacent to the shop was an area dedicated to raising baby alligators (Gator Pond). They were really cute, although I probably wouldn’t be saying that if there wasn’t glass separating me from them.
It was nice to watch them close up though and they seemed quite active in the morning – slithering in and out of the small pond in the enclosure.
We also spotted an old Airboat on land (for decoration purposes), along with an alligator statue and the kids had fun pretending to get eaten by putting their head in the alligator’s mouth!
With just ten minutes to spare we went over to the Native American Village to listen to a talk being given by a native American.
It was really interesting to hear all about how they cooked, what they ate, making weapons and how they lived.
The Airboat ride
Soon we were being called for our ride time so we made our way over to the dock area and were asked to step on board the airboat.
Our captain was great fun and made the safety chat much more interesting by chucking in a few jokes, which the kids appreciated. And soon we were setting off to explore the Everglades.
You have the option to wear headphones to muffle the sound, which the kids put on, as the motor tends to be quite loud when you’re whizzing along.
The feeling of going at speed across the water and feeling the wind in your face was amazing.
Our tour was for an hour, but it went by so quickly – I could easily have done it all again. I loved the fact that sometimes the airboat went slow and stopped at a few spots to soak up the atmosphere (it is sooooo peaceful in the middle of Lake Toho!) and at other times, we’d be out on open water whizzing along at top speed!
We were lucky to spot loads of wildlife – plenty of bird species including herons, an otter and lots of alligators. I was hugely impressed at the captain being able to spot an alligator from hundreds of yards away – just by looking for movement amongst the plants.
Even when we were up close to the alligators – he was great at picking them out despite their ability to camouflage themselves easily.
And our ride was very educational as well – the captain’s wealth of knowledge was second to none, and the fact that the kids learnt so much that day (mostly about alligators as they kept asking him lots of questions!), was fantastic.
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A real American feast
After our epic airboat ride we decided to stay and have lunch at the park – at Boggy Bottom BBQ Restaurant.
I was hugely impressed by the fact that they had homemade Key Lime Pie on the menu (my favourite dessert!), so I wasn’t going to say no to that.
What I loved about the restaurant was that they had paper table cloths and brought over colouring crayons for the kids to draw and write on the table while we waited for their food. Genius!
I remembered that the only other place I had seen this before was at the hotel at Legoland Windsor back home – and I thought it was a great idea at the time. Even VIP got stuck in with the colouring!
Our waitress was really friendly and seemed genuinely interested in where we were from, what we had seen and how we were finding the holiday. We were having such a great time. Plus the food was really good with large portions and we left with our bellies suitably stuffed!
While we waited outside for our Uber guy to come back and pick us up, we played truth or dare to pass the time.
The dares were quite amusing as we each pretended we were robots and we got some interesting looks from visitors who had just arrived, which made me laugh.
So what’s the Airboat Ride deal?
At the time of publishing this, Boggy Creek Airboat Rides start from $27.95 for adults and $23.95 for kids for a 30-minute tour (about £21.94 and £18.80 respectively)
The tours operate year-round so it doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit.
Plus the attraction has now introduced the option for visitors to learn how to drive an airboat, which is a great idea.
Guests (at least 18 years old) can learn ‘airboating’ from qualified experienced captains in a dual controlled boat.
The one-hour VIP package ‘Romp in the Swamp’ (fab name!) also includes a at-shirt, photo as well as two additional guests to share the thrill ride!
If you don’t fancy braving the airboat ride (who wouldn’t though?) or just fancy a refreshment following the experience, there’s also an onsite bar (Tikki Bar) to relax in and watch the world go by…
I’m so glad we managed to book this and, if you’re going to Orlando with the kids on a Disney trip and you fancy doing something a bit different one day, then it comes hugely recommended.
The kids will love it – and it’s one of those experiences that you’ll remember for a long long time, if not forever.