Adventures in Brandcation

I mentioned in a previous posts that the theme of my Brandcation trip was Adventure, and boy did we have adventures! From zip lining to feeding and wrestling an alligator (really!), I didn’t miss an opportunities to jump in and be adventurous.

Our first adventure was zip-lining at Florida EcoSafaris, and it was the perfect way to start the weekend. Nothing bonds a group like than zipping down a wire cable from a 55 foot tower in 40 degree weather. I love to zip-line and have been lucky enough to do so several times over the years, but even though I only live an hour away from Floirda EcoSafaris, I had no idea this place existed. Now that I have been, I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to go.

Florida EcoSafaris is tucked away in the rural part of St Cloud, putting it about 45 minutes away from Disney. The story behind the property is of a father who bought up the land to preserve it in memory of his son, and he has done a beautiful job doing just that. In addition to the zip-line (with 7 different zips), visitors can enjoy horseback riding, a jeep safari and more. They even have a sleep-away summer camp for the kids. Our guide told us about a horseback trip you can take where you ride 3 hours by horse to a campsite for dinner and camping. After breakfast, you ride 3 hours back and are served lunch in the main mess hall. How much fun would that be for a family with older kids? I am happy to report that we got spotty 3G signal out at Florida EcoSafaris, so I might actually be able to convince my husband to do this trip when K gets older.

Alright, this is the moment you have been waiting for… I made videos on the zip-lines! Fair warning that they start out nice and smooth, but landing is hard enough without trying to video at the same time! LOL! I am bummed that on my fav zip with the smoothest landing, I managed to stop filming halfway through the ride and I didn’t even realize until I landed… Oh well. Zip with me!

Zip 1

Zip 2 – nice and easy…

On Saturday morning, we woke up to an even chillier morning. The northerners didn’t believe me when I warned them it was going to be a COLD weekend! And let me tell you, cold is downright FREEZING on an airboat! I came prepared with a fleece blanket for my legs, and luckily the folks at Boggy Creek Airboat Rides were even more prepared with sleeping bags to spread across our laps.

I haven’t been on an airboat in a long time, but it is a blast. If you are not familiar with an airboat ride, the coolest part is the boats ability to skim the water, which allows the boat to float in only a few inches of water. That means the boat can get up in the marshy area to explore the wildlife. I love to be out on the water, and the ride was beautiful. In addition to day-time rides like we took, Boggy Creek also offers night rides. Why night rides? – because night time is when you can look for gators! Gator eyes reflect red at night, and since that area is crawling with gators I am sure they spot lots of beady little red eyes.

Speaking of Gators, while my Gators were whopping up on Vandy (52-14), I was at Gatorland. (How perfect!) Gatorland has been around forever. In fact, we used to go 20+ years ago when I was a kid. But I haven’t gotten around to taking my daughter yet. After going with the girls, I can’t wait to take her. She will love this place!  Gators EVERYWHERE! I know they look like stone statues in my pictures, but I promise you are looking at the real deal. Gatorland is home to more than 2,000 gators!

By far, the coolest thing we did at Gatorland was to feed the gators!!! Feeding the gators is something any visitor can do (for an additional charge), and I totally recommend it. I stood about 3 feet from the mouths of these huge, hungry beasts. Want to see just how close I was, watch the video. Toward the end of the video, I pan down to show my knee so you can see that I really was kneeling down that close. I was not zoomed in! If you listen carefully, you can hear the gators hissing at each other. Note the stick in my video; that was our protection. The guide had it to smack the gators if needed. Oh, and no… I wasn’t allowed to touch those gators. I volunteered (as you will hear at the very end), but he laughed at me.

After the feeding frenzy, we headed over to the gator wrestling show. And after the show I finally got to touch my gator! Yes, that is a REAL gator I am sitting on. (Don’t worry, his mouth is taped shut.) SO VERY COOL. Yes, this is also something that anyone can do. It does require a $5 donation to the feeding and care of the animals, but it is soooooo worth it!


Of course, no trip to Central Florida would be complete without a visit to Disney. Even though I live here and go often, I wasn’t going to miss going to Disney with adults. Plus it was a couple of the gals first trips to Disney, so it was neat to be with them on their first visit.

I mentioned before I went that I planned to try pin trading for the first time, I did and I am hooked!!!! Before I left, I purchased a bunch of pins on eBay (it’s cheaper that way), and then while we were at Disney we stopped every cast member with a pin lanyard to trade pins. It was very exciting. I was able to collect an entire set of 2010 character pins (7 in total) with Minnie, Mickey, Pluto, Donald, Goofy, Woody & Buzz. It took me all day to find all 7 pins, and it was so exciting when I found the last one right before it was time to go. I also started collecting the Disney Princesses Babies (also 7 pins), and I can’t wait to go back to get the rest. Another Disney “thing” for me to collect.

Yes, my blogging retreat was a weekend full of adventure. Thanks to all of the sponsors who made the weekend possible including my personal sponsor

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