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A Who's Who of Zoos - Green Meadows Farm

Green Meadows Farm
1368 South Poinciana Boulevard, Kissimmee 34741
(407) 846-0770

Admission: $19, including tax, for all those 3 years old and up; Florida residents $17; seniors (55+) $15; annual pass $40
Hours: Daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Six miles south of Highway 192

This is where kids meet kids — and piglets, and ducklings, and chicks. If you have little ones between the ages of three and seven, this cleverly conceived and well-run petting farm is sure to be a favorite memory of their Orlando visit. Better yet, let their grandparents take them! Green Meadows is an ideal place for this sort of trans-generational bonding experience. Meanwhile, you and your spouse can take the in-room jacuzzi out for a spin.

The ethos of Green Meadows Farm is pretty well summed up by the quote from Luther Burbank that greets you on your arrival: “Every child should have mudpies, frogs, grasshoppers, waterbugs, tadpoles, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, animals to pet, hay fields, pine cones, rocks to roll, lizards, huckleberries, and hornets. Any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of their education.”

Green Meadows Farm is spread out over 50 acres under the dappled shade of moss-draped southern oaks. The farm is experienced via a guided tour that lasts about two hours. If the park is busy, you may be asked to wait until the next tour begins but on slower days you’ll be escorted to the tour in progress. (“When you get back to the chickens, you’ll know the tour’s over.”) If you like, you can simply stay with the tour and repeat it over and over.

The tour includes a short ride on the farm train and a bumpy tractor-powered hayride, but the real stars of the show are the animals. This is not a working farm but more of a “farm zoo” with widely spaced pens holding a fairly representative cross section of American farm animals. There are also a few more exotic species, like llama, buffalo, and ostriches, that are showing up on your trendier farms. Visitors can enter most of the pens for a close-up encounter. This is the city kid’s chance to hold a chicken, pet a baby pig, feed a goat, milk a cow, chase a goose, and meet a turkey that has yet to be served at Thanksgiving. Squawking guinea hens and stately peacocks (including a stunning all-white specimen) roam freely about the grounds. And, of course, there is a pony ride. The little ones love every minute. For doting parents and grandparents, it’s a photographic field day.

The tour guides are the antithesis of theme park attendants. There are no spiffy uniforms or carefully rehearsed spiels here. These folks look and talk like they’re down on the farm, dirty jeans and all. It’s truly refreshing. But don’t expect to escape the edutainment. You’ll be treated to spot quizzes (“Who can tell me what a baby goose is called?”) and little known facts (“The pig is a very clean animal.”) as the guide shepherds you from pen to pen. Thanks to this tour I now know that the gestation period of a pig is three months, three weeks, and three days.

Of course everyone’s favorites are the farm babies; you can increase your odds of seeing them by visiting during spring or around harvest time. During October there is pumpkin picking, another winner with the wee set.

There’s little in the way of food. At the General Store, sandwiches are about $3 and ice cream bars about half that. Soft drinks are available from vending machines. You can also bring a cooler and have a picnic. Judging from the number of tables provided, quite a few people do just that.

Remember to wear sensible shoes — this is a farm, after all, and after a rain, it can get muddy. The tour is long and covers a fair amount of ground. You can rent a “little red wagon” for $3 in which to lug the kids.

Nearby: Old Town, Osceola Environmental Study Center, Osceola Extreme Sports.

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