Nature Conservancy's Disney Wilderness Preserve
Lonely Planet review for Nature Conservancy's Disney Wilderness Preserve
Hidden within Orlando’s sprawl, this amazing and rarely visited 12,000-acre preserve is the result of wetland laws that required Walt Disney World to compensate for the company’s impact on (and devastation of) wetlands and sensitive natural habitats. Home to gopher tortoises, bald eagles, sandhill cranes and hundreds of other wildlife species, the park features walking trails through the scrub, fields and woods. While the trails shift as a result of annual burns, the 1-mile loop trip to Lake Russell, one of central Florida’s last remaining undeveloped lakes, and a longer 2.5-mile loop are generally open to visitors. The park is located about 15 minutes, or 15 to 25 miles, from Walt Disney World, just south of Kissimmee. Take Poinciana Blvd past Horse World several miles and turn right on Pleasant Hill Rd/Cypress Parkway. Drive 0.5 miles and turn right onto Old Pleasant Hill Rd for 0.7 miles. Look out for bird families on the drive in.