Bucket List Worthy Adventures

Get a bird’s eye view at Wallaby Ranch.
Get a birds eye view at Wallaby Ranch

As the saying goes: “You only live once.” So there is no time like the present to start indulging in some of the memorable adventures you’ve always been longing to try. It turns out Central Florida has an abundance of bucket-list-worthy experiences to get your grand adventuring started. Here are our top five local picks to help you have the most fun living your one big, bold, and beautiful life. (Note: advanced reservations required for all experiences.)

Kiss the Sky
Who among us hasn’t harbored romanticized dreams of flying? At Wallaby Ranch, on the outskirts of Orlando, Malcolm Jones and his team make that serene sensation a reality through the experience of tandem hang-gliding. Known globally for uniting aero-towing and in-air instruction to invent the tandem method, Jones is the most experienced tandem flight pilot in the world, with over 38,000 incident-free flights under his belt. His unique method allows Wallaby Ranch to offer hang-gliding experiences that are effortless, enthralling, and captivatingly peaceful. With light-as-a-kite take offs and delicate landings (thanks to wheels attached to the glider), sky-bound adventurers get to relax, feel the quiet rush of air, and simply enjoy a bird’s eye view of the breathtaking scenery below. “The first time I flew was just ultimate inexpressible magic,” says Jones, “surprising and out-of-body euphoric. Now I strive to ensure that every first-timer’s tandem flight affects them in that same fantastic way.”

Go Wild
If the idea of getting up close and personal with some of Africa’s most majestic animals appeals to you, but roaming the savannah for weeks on end to find them does not, the Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers an ideal and conveniently located alternative. Guests on this highly-curated, immersion adventure (never more than 12 people at a time) spend 3.5 hours with two impeccably trained trek guides who escort you on an off-the-beaten-path excursion that offers intimate, lingering encounters with hippopotamus, alligators, giraffes, cheetahs, rhinoceros, etc. The experience includes light trail walking, rope bridges, delightfully tasty snacks, and a ride on the “savannah” in an open-air safari vehicle. “This experience pulls you out of the theme park’s go-go-go energy and lets you pause and truly observe a diverse assortment of animals,” says Trek Guide Megan Widhalm. “It’s a fun, exciting, and educational experience, but also peaceful and unpressured.”

Get Your Groove On
Don’t let all the fun in life dance by you; this year put some pep in your step and some groove in your moves. Learning to dance is at the top of many people’s bucket lists. Arthur Murray Dance School offers ample opportunities to finally untangle your two left feet with 15 different dance forms to choose from. While ballroom will never go out of style, it’s Latin dances that are all the rage now: tango, samba, cha cha, and, of course, salsa. These fun, energetic dances are surprisingly easy to pick up, so you’re sure to feel successful the very first class. “Dance can change your life if you let it,” says dance instructor Amanda Deveau. “It helps you feel more confident, healthier, happier, and helps you make new friends. With confidence like that, life is just more fun. Dance is an ideal excuse to go out and have a great time.”

Speed Things Up
Are you craving a unique experience that will really spin your wheels? Indulge your “need for speed” at the Richard Petty Driving Experience where guests live life in the fast lane either whipping around the speedway as a passenger with a professional driver in a three-lap thrill ride with top speeds of 145 mph, or taking the wheel themselves for eight exhilarating laps around the one-mile, tri-oval racetrack. A safety instruction course is part of the three-hour experience, of course. “Nowhere else in Central Florida can someone take a 600hp NASCAR race car around a racetrack at speeds that might cost them their license forever if they tried it on I-4,” says Mike Bartelli, chief marketing officer. “After experiencing a thrill like that, you might have a tough time going home in your mini van.”

Make a Splash:
If your bucket list dreams involve exploring life under the sea, Discovery Cove is just the spot to whet your aquatic whistle. Recently voted Trip Advisor’s “#1 Park in the World” (2013), Discovery Cove’s tropical, resort-like environment offers opportunities to swim with dolphins, wade with rays, snorkel among exotic fish, encounter otters and marmosets, and float on a lazy river. This limited-access adventure (no more than 1,300 people per day) ensures no crowds and plenty of time and space to relax, with all meals, snacks, beverages and adventure gear provided (from wet suits to sunscreen).

Additionally, Discovery Cove’s signature SeaVenture® experience provides guests with an underwater walking tour wearing special dive helmets (no scuba certification required) that will have you feeling like Jacques Cousteau in no time. “Discovery Cove feels like a one-day escape to a tropical oasis,” says Mari Delgado, associate manager of marketing and communications. “There is really nothing quite like being in the water having an intimate encounter with such amazing animals. It can be heart-warming and emotional. Our ultimate hope is that guests walk away having enjoyed their time, but also having truly learned something that leaves them with a greater appreciation for the animals.”


What do you think?

385 points
Upvote Downvote
Avatar Super Influencer

Written by Bill Heneghan

Bill is an author, investor and serial entrepreneur.