Kissimmee, Florida, Newsletter, North America, Trip Reviews, USA

Insider guide to Kissimmee. Florida

05/01/2023 by .
Insider guide to Kissimmee MARKETING EK DK 001 downtown kissimmee 4.jpg

Andy Mossack’s insider guide to Kissimmee shows why it is a perfect alternative to Orlando.

They call Orlando the theme park capital of the world. Fair enough. But capitals tend to be very busy and expensive places, don’t they? So, here’s a perfect solution to consider. Kissimmee happens to be right next door to Orlando and just a few miles from the theme parks. Yet these two cities are surprisingly very different.

Kissimmee’s wide-open spaces are like a breath of fresh air, there’s far less traffic to worry about, there’s plenty of accommodation options and it’s just a twenty-five-minute drive from Orlando airport. But there’s more; you get far more value for your money; you can drive to the theme parks in under twenty minutes and Kissimmee’s own attractions are within easy reach and well worth a visit. So doesn’t it make perfect sense to base yourself here instead of Orlando?

My insider guide to Kissimmee will show you what to look forward to if you do, and what you’re missing out on if you don’t!

The Gateway to The Everglades

Kissimmee’s proximity to the enchanting Everglades fully justifies its official moniker as the ‘Gateway to the Everglades’. And you’ll find the jewel of that crown at the Wild Florida and Drive Thru Safari, a place of almost legendary status in these parts located on private property on Lake Cypress right at the headwaters of the Everglades.  I’ve been there numerous times, but now with the recent addition of the safari drive-through, it really is better than ever.

Wild Florida AirBoat (c) Andy Mossack

Wild Florida AirBoat Captain (C) Andy Mossack

Start off with an iconic airboat tour and experience Floridian wildlife right up close. Yes, there are plenty of alligators to encounter from the safety of the boat, but also some extraordinary wild birds too. Look out also for the herds of cows who happily wade chest-deep into the lake to munch on tasty marsh grass. After that, you can spend plenty of time strolling around the Gator Park where over two hundred injured or donated animals are lovingly cared for together with a whole host of alligators including Crusher, the biggest and meanest of them all. The keepers conduct animal encounters throughout the day so keep an eye out for the times.

Wild Florida Animal encounter (C) Andy Mossack

The new safari park offers even more animal encounters from the safety of your car. The one-way route meanders through 150 acres of savanna, home to bison, water buffalo, ostrich, zebra, oryx, antelope, wildebeest, and emu to name a few. Let’s not forget the graceful giraffes who you can hand-feed lettuce from a specially designed raised wooden platform.

Promenade at Sunset Walk

This lively purpose-built entertainment district is a delight to stroll around day or night. Plenty of restaurants and bars, retail outlets and live entertainment on offer 365 days a year. There’s also Island H2O, a brand-new state-of-the-art water park open between March and November which must be seen to be believed including a 360-degree loop, and video-embedded slide.

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During the run-up to the festive holidays in 2022 it opened to host the Night of a Million Lights event in aid of Give Kids the World charity. Come sundown each night, the whole park was transformed into a winter wonderland of illumination and family fun.

The Reunion Resort

eagle trace homes row side

I mentioned earlier about Kissimmee’s wide-open spaces and the Reunion Resort gated development is a perfect example of where you can base yourself. This is a giant space with three golf courses, Palmer, Watson, and Nicklaus – each one designed by those very legends – an onsite water park, walking trails, a luxury hotel, numerous restaurants, and plenty of condominium rental opportunities.


No surprise there considering Kissimmee revels in being the World’s vacation home capital. I rented a very spacious condo at Eagle Trace Resort Orlando, a three-bedroom luxury property with an outside terrace, shared pool and just a short drive away from all the theme parks.

Disney Springs

It would be remiss of me not to mention Disney in this piece, because, let’s face it, Disney is the headline act in central Florida. However, if you want a taste of Disney magic without having to spend a small fortune on a whole day at the Magic Kingdom, you should visit Disney Springs.

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Built around Lake Buena Vista, it has retail, restaurants, and entertainment (including a Cirque du Soleil) with an added sprinkling of Disney’s magic dust. Throw in the free parking too and you can thank me later! I can recommend popping into Wine Bar George for some very impressive wines and food. George Miliotes is a Master Sommelier who has been involved with Disney for most of his working life. Now he has his own place, and his Sunday brunch is becoming the stuff of legend. He’s also just opened a Wine Bar George outlet at Orlando Airport

Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Islands of Adventure

While we’re on the subject of theme parks, I have to confess a deep desire to return to Universal Studios Florida was realised recently. It had been a while since I was last there, and I have to say it did not disappoint. Perhaps in early December, the queues are shorter, (which is a big plus) but the latest 3D projection screen simulator rides really were jaw-dropping.  Minion Mayhem, the Simpsons, Transformers and Harry Potter (of course) were my top dogs. There’s also the brand-new Jason Bourne Stuntacular attraction which mixes live action with back projection and computer-controlled scenery. It’s an extraordinary live-action movie if that makes any sense at all!  Very impressive.


Basing yourself at Kissimmee for your trip to central Florida makes total sense on so many levels – a very persuasive option that can’t be ignored. And if you’re suffering theme park fatigue, it’s just a 40-minute drive across to the soothing surf delights of coastal New Smyrna Beach and the awesome Kennedy Space Centre complex.

Images (C) Andy Mossack, Experience Kissimmee and Jennifer Lynn (Disney Springs)

Tell me more about this Insider guide to Kissimmee

 Experience Kissimmee is the official tourism authority for Osceola County, Florida. Located 25 minutes from Orlando International Airport (MCO), Kissimmee offers a perfectly balanced vacation experience with world-famous theme parks and attractions, outdoor activities, and plenty of Florida sunshine. Kissimmee is the Vacation Home Capital of the World®, with options ranging from two-bedroom condos to 15-bedroom mansions. Also located on the headwaters of the Everglades, Kissimmee offers an abundance of eco-attractions too. it also offers information on the places features in this insider guide to Kissimmee.

Where to Eat in Kissimmee

Ford’s Garage  Fun and lively eatery in  Sunset Walk based on heritage Ford vehicles  Even the bathrooms are themed accordingly.

Wine Bar George. Disney Springs and Orlando Airport. The man certainly knows his wines. terrific destination for good food and wine lovers.

Getting to Kissimmee

BA operates regular flights to Orlando and Miami from London Gatwick.

Getting to Gatwick: Fast, frequent train services are provided to Gatwick Airport by Gatwick Express and Southern from London Victoria, and by Thameslink from London St Pancras, through central London via Blackfriars and London Bridge. Single fares start at £12 (Advance on Southern, Anytime on Thameslink); Thameslink off-peak return is £22.30.


2 thoughts on “Insider guide to Kissimmee. Florida

  1. Jeff M

    Thank you Andy for this informative and eyeopening review of Kissimmee and the surrounding area.It is certainly worth considering for our next Theme Park visit.


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