You asked for it, so I made it happen. In mid November, our group of 6 adventurers went to Forever Florida eco-adventure park, in St. Cloud, FL, for a morning of thrill seeking. Our Central Florida zip line adventure was a blast.
You don’t understand how happy I am to finally get this post written and published. Since it was just before the holidays, I was completely and utterly swamped with holiday busy body syndrome — hopping from event to event and party to party or getting sucked into watching every single Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Network Christmas movie. It was probably more of the latter, just being honest.
Forever Florida eco-adventure is located in what I like to call “East Jesus”. All I know is that I passed the Disney exits, and then I drove and drove and drove and drove….and drove. Then, a deer darted out in front of us on a 2 lane highway and my life flashed before my eyes. Then I made a left and a herd (that’s probably not the scientific term) of peacocks slowly walked in front of the car and then I was on a ranch of some kind and finally I found the mystical parking lot at the end of Florida. No I’m not exaggerating. I had no freaking idea this part of Florida existed. You say Kissimmee/St. Cloud to most Floridians and they automatically think oh just outside of Orlando. This is not that, so my first tip would be to input the address in your GPS of choice the day before so that you can properly plan and give yourself enough time to make it on time. Otherwise you will be flying like a bat out of hell trying not to be left behind (we won’t mention any names in the group but you know who you are LOL )
Forever Florida is located in a really beautiful preserved part of old Florida that so many never get a chance to appreciate. They offer zip line adventures, horse back riding, and camping. I learned about them through Groupon of course. They are always a good way to talk yourself into doing something fun that you didn’t even know existed. The deal included, a straightaway zip line, a 78 foot free fall, and a zip line coaster.
In order to get to the zip line location you have to go for a ride across the property in one of their “coaches”. It’s like a giant swamp buggy. Along the way you get some gorgeous views of the ranch, cattle, pigs, a snake, and we even saw baby alligators in the little creek running through the property. It’s bumpy and you run the slight risk of getting smacked in the face with tree branches so I don’t recommend siting too close to the outside. The driver was telling us all kinds of information about the ranch but the mic wasn’t hooked up properly so I heard zero of the information while we were on the move. What I can tell you is that it’s protected land and it’s beautiful.
After we were suited up with helmets and harnesses it was time to get our zip on. They do have lockers at the equipment outpost if you’ve brought a purse or a backpack along. I opted to bring my Pami Pocket instead of a purse and it was perfect! I used my Pami Pocket for the first time and it was the best solution to have my essentials and not worry about anything falling out of my pocket. My phone, cash, and credit card all fit neatly inside the zipped compartment and I wore it around my neck while I zipped without any issues at all. It is perfect for adventurers like me and they come in a variety of colors with many options for cute bling designs. I prefer to wear things across my body rather than around my neck so I do wish the string was just a tad bit longer. If you’re average height or height-challenged, it’s probably long enough to wear it cross body style but if you’re a tall-ie like me it may not be comfortable that way. That’s just a minor thing but overall I was certainly pleased with it. The Pami Pocket certainly did the job. (Pami Pocket provided a sample product free of charge in exchange for my use of the product and sharing my honest views with my readers.)
The tall platforms were a little intimidating because what you see are hundreds of stairs to be climbed. There is no short cut. There is no elevator. If you can’t make it up 6 or 7 stories of stairs you don’t get to do the fun stuff. After huffing and puffing our way to the top we were treated with a magnificent bird’s-eye view of miles and miles of unspoiled, undeveloped Central Florida forests and land. It really did take my breath away.
We walked across a suspension bridge to the next platform where I was ready to get my zip on! Our eager guide asked who was ready to step off of a 78 foot high platform for the free fall and all of the air went out of my sail. I knew there was a free fall. I read that part when I booked it. In my mind I thought after the two zip line adventures my adrenaline would be pumping and I’d have no trouble doing the free fall because I would be so amped from the other activities. I was in no way prepared to do the Panther Pounce first and neither was anyone else. Correction, that’s anyone else except my daredevil 14 year old son. He was completely unphased. We watched as others in our party who weren’t with our group stepped out on to the platform with ease. Then it was our group’s turn and my son did not hesitate. I truly do admire his bravery (or young naivety). He had no fear. He stepped off of that platform like a pro. Meanwhile I said 100 prayers in a very short amount of time watching my one and only baby boy go off of that platform.
One by one, my friends all went. I volunteered to be last so that I could take pictures. Each hesitated. Each had a little talk with their Maker (you could see it in their faces) just before they took that brave step off of the platform. Those on the ground cheered them on while those of us still on the platform with our guide encouraged them to go for it.
And then there wasn’t anyone left but me and the guide. I really didn’t feel the nerves until he opened the gate and I felt how exposed I was out on that ledge. I looked down and saw the encouraging words etched into the dirt below: “SPLAT”. A bird flew below me and it truly clicked that I’m out of my element. I’m in their world. I thought of a million reasons why this was a terrible idea and I could blame no one but myself because I planned this! My son below taunted “YOLO mom!” (you only live once) I closed my eyes, and stepped off into absolute nothingness.
It’s an uneasy feeling to be falling, falling, falling waiting to feel that catch. It was just a few seconds of that “free” sensation before the tether caught and I think my stomach came very close to escaping through my mouth. Oh to feel earth beneath my feet again! It was THE best feeling to make gentle contact with dirt!! I know there are other more extreme adventures of jumping off of stuff around this globe that are hundreds and hundreds of feet up and judging by how I felt with this one, I don’t know if that’s for me. But, I did it. I didn’t chicken out. We all did it! Outdoorsy Diva and Friends conquered the Panther Pounce. Everything after this would be a piece of cake.
Next up was the zip line coaster. I’ve zipped lined in Puerto Rico, St. Augustine, and St. Kitts but I had not done a zip line coaster. It’s hard to explain. Basically your harness is attached to a metal track that twist and turns and dips much like a roller coaster. You are propelled along this snake-like apparatus at about 20 mph. This was my favorite of the day! You fly! The dips were so much fun. It was a completely different experience than just the normal straight line. My usual luck kicked in and of course I did have one tiny snafu. Toward the end of my zip I lost momentum and didn’t make it all the way to the platform. They had to throw me a rope and pull me in the last few feet.
Our final challenge of the day was the straightaway zip line race. This one sends you down from the platform at about 30 mph. My son and I raced each other and I was flying! I passed him at about the halfway mark but I stopped about 1 foot from the platform!!! So technically he beat me.
On the walk back to turn in our gear, our guide pointed out a very interesting sight on the ground. There were fresh panther paw prints!! I hear about the Florida panther but I haven’t ever seen physical evidence of one in the wild like this before. It was pretty cool, but a little disturbing. Afterall , we had no idea if he was still lurking somewhere nearby.
The best part is that all of your bravery was being captured by a professional photographer the entire day. They provided all of the high res pictures of the day to us on a zip drive for a very affordable price, which made it the perfect way to share with the group.
What a great day of pushing ourselves to try something new, appreciating nature, and even making new friends! We met another adventurer who was visiting the area from Germany who told us about hang gliding in the same area. I think I’ve found the next adventure for Outdoorsy Diva and Friends! Join the Facebook group and subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss out on the next adventure. If you are visiting the Central Florida area from near or far, remember that there is so much more to discover than The Mouse and the other theme parks. There is a whole other world of beauty and excitement if you’re willing to go and find it.
Tips for having your own outdoorsy adventure at Forever Florida:
- Plug in the address into your GPS and plot your route the day before. It’s further than you think , even if you are traveling from Orlando.
- This isn’t the most strenuous thing I’ve done, but keep in mind that for each one of the thrill pack adventures we had to climb those stairs.
- Leave the purses and backpacks in the car. You will want to have cash or maybe a credit card on hand because you can purchase drinks and snacks at the on site restaurant and at the equipment outpost. You can also purchase pictures.
- Our time slot was 9 am. It was perfect because we got started before the heat of the day. Just know that if you select an afternoon time it’s going to be hot. It’s Florida after all.
- If you don’t potty back at the guest center before you hop on that coach to head out to the zip line area, you will have to rough it in an out-house.
- I did wear my camera and it didn’t get in my way at all. Obviously it’s a risk but I did get some shots that even the photographer didn’t get so it was worth it to me.
- Call them with any and all questions. The staff was very friendly and helpful and they will email you prior to your visit with all the details you need to know about what to wear, rules, etc.
- Get a Pami Pocket and wear it.
Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™
“It’s only the great outdoors…what are you afraid of?”