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Forever Florida, Forever Fun

Offering coach and horseback tours and a menu of aerial adventures, this ecological theme park is holding its own with its bigger brethren in nearby Orlando.

A common set of stairs takes harnessed and helmeted guests up 68 feet to participate in one of the park’s aerial offerings.

A common set of stairs takes harnessed and helmeted guests up 68 feet to participate in one of the park’s aerial offerings.

Rural Kenansville, 60 miles west and north of Vero Beach, may be the only place one can still get a bird’s-eye view of what Florida looked like when the Spanish first arrived 500 years ago. The tiny unincorporated Osceola County town is home to an expansive preserve and ecological theme park, appropriately called Forever Florida, where the addition of ziplining four years ago moved it up the tourism hierarchy. Since then, ever more inventive – and a few downright frightful – aerial adventures have been keeping the private, not-for-profit operation afloat amid escalating competition from the entertainment behemoths in nearby Orlando.

Forever Florida takes in 4,700 acres, a small portion of which is set aside for a working cattle ranch and another 3,200 or so acres for conservancy – the final wish of the late wildlife biologist and ecologist Allen Broussard, who frolicked in the wilderness here as a boy. The better-known EcoSafari portion with its menu of rides – by coach, horseback, or aerial suspension – straddles both and is the access point to everything the outfit has to offer visitors every day of the week.

Read the entire article in the Summer 2013 issue