This year the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber launched a new recurring event called “Osceola Round-Up.” The goal of this event is to highlight our attraction and entertainment members while providing an evening of networking in a fun environment. As with our First Friday series that highlights our member restaurants, attendees at this event pay their own way to participate in the attraction or activity, and the Chamber brings the group setting!
We kicked off our first Osceola Round-Up on March 30 at Wild Florida. Our group took an airboat ride on Lake Toho where they had the opportunity to spot gators in their natural habitat, as well as birds and other wildlife native to Florida. For some, it was their very first time on an airboat, one of Floridians’ favorite ways to explore. They then ventured over to Wild Florida’s animal park to experience the unique wildlife that the park has to offer. From Florida panthers and albino alligators, to wallabies and adorable baby goats, Wild Florida has a collection of native and non-native animals for visitors to meet and learn about. During the day, shows and demonstrations add to the educational value of the park. Our group didn’t have time on their after-work adventure to experience Wild Florida’s new drive-through Safari park, but several were anxious to return and check it out! Both the Safari and Airboat Ride at Wild Florida include admission to the animal park.
The April Osceola Round-Up took us to Gatorland for a Gator Night Shine Adventure. Our intimate group of 20 members started the excursion doing what we do best, fueling up for the excitement on delicious food and drinks. Gatorland set up a custom snack bar complete with build-your-own Dorito nachos made to go because, as the tour guide pointed out, “you never know when you might need to outrun a gator.” After enjoying this fun snack and a cool beverage, our group had the park to themselves and set off on a journey to explore some of Gatorland’s signature residents. Attendees even had the opportunity to hold baby gators and massive snakes!
As the sun set, our Chamber crew made their way to the main event: Gatorland’s Night Shine Adventure. Armed with flashlights, the group walked deep into the park to a long bridge over calm black water. It was pitch black, the water was still, and the only sounds came from the silent chatter of the group. Tour guide Michael hollered and threw pellets of food into the water to invite his reptilian friends to the party. With the aid of flashlights, the group could see over 50 gators begin to emerge from the water for a late-night snack in what one attendee described as “epic.” Gators of all sizes and temperaments chomped aggressively for the pellets, while others just chilled as bits of food ended up lodged on their backs.
While gators and wild animals may provide a thrill, our favorite part was watching attendees form connections over the event. Newer members had an opportunity to meet veteran members who welcomed them into our Chamber and shared information about how being a part of the Chamber has helped their business. Many of them were also experiencing these popular local attractions for the first time!
We can’t thank Wild Florida and Gatorland enough for being our guinea pigs as we launched this new series. For a change of pace, our next Osceola Round-Up will be at Board and Brush on May 13. You can still register if you wish to join us!