New to the Central Florida zip line scene is Zip Orlando, which started operating out of Kissimmee last month. The name may sound metropolitan, but the setting is definitely rural and a bit of a trip back in Florida history.
After checking in at an office at the corner of South Orange Blossom Trail and Broad Street in Kissimmee, customers are transported to the course, which is on land adjacent to the Green Meadows Petting Farm.
Also on the land are a number of farm animals, including a cow we had to walk around to get to the ziplining gear. (Cows leave behind other stuff to walk around, too. That's not the reason Zip Orlando requires closed-toe shoes, but it's a great side benefit.)
Here we see the first of the zips that wind through a thickly wooded area. Managers Laura Ureta and Jody Cooper glided and guided me through a quick tour of the eight zips and three bridges.
"What makes us different is that we keep you guessing," Cooper says. Although you can see the landing spot you're zipping toward, the course beyond that is naturally hidden by greenery and branches. The entire tour typically takes between 2.5 and 3 hours.
Zip Orlando's parent company is Experience Based Learning Inc., which installed the Zip Safari at Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida in 2008.
There's nature at work above and below zippers. One Zip Orlando stretch is called "hole in tree," because the line runs through a gap in a big tree's branches. At one stop, two cows came to the bottom of our pole, as if daring us to a staring contest. But they ran away when we flew off. At one point, two zip lines cross paths. They're far enough apart, obviously, not to be a danger, but it's an interesting effect.
After conquering three zips and a designed-to-be-creaky bridge, we're back on ground, and ready for another set of steps. Ureta points out deer tracks and indicates the call of peacocks in the distance.
We are now 65 feet up, the highest tower of Zip Orlando. But don't be quick to zip. Here's a panoramic view of the Osceola County countryside — primarily flat pastureland, trees, sky and cattle. It's easy to imagine the prime cattle ranching of Old Florida here. You have to be looking to spy the SkyCoaster at Fun Spot in the distance.
The final segment is the longest — 950 feet — and fastest. Cooper has timed it at 30 mph. If you zip in a fetal position, it helps you pick up speed. During this extended stretch, there was time to stare back at the animals, including a bunch of buzzards. Welcome to Florida.
Where: 4509 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Kissimmee
Cost: $95 per person (Florida resident discount price is $75). Reservations required.
Restrictions: Guests must weigh at least 70 pounds but no more than 270 pounds.
What else: Fathers zip free with one paying customer June 17-19.