There are several airboat outfitters here in central Florida. We were drawn to this one because of the high ratings we saw online. Midway was also the closest to us in proximity, being just 30 minutes from our East Orlando home. I appreciated that this company actually had its own family-owned building, fully equipped with its own air-conditioning / restrooms and running water for the sinks (some of their competitors offered to meet us close to the water, but didn't actually own assets outside of the boats). Midway also has its own souvenir shop, so the girls were able to look around and enjoy themselves before and after our experience on the water. And to top things off, at the conclusion of our ride, there were free photo ops to be had there with 4-ft long alligators, a 13-foot Burmese Python, and this really old pig named Porkchop!
We booked our adventure in advance online. On the morning of our excursion, we received a courtesy phone call about 45 minutes prior to our reservation just to make sure we were ok and on our way. Upon arriving to Midway, there was a very spacious and wide parking lot, and we proceeded toward the door at the center of the structure where they confirmed our reservation and we were led to our airboat by our captain for the morning.
The airboats themselves were built for the tourist in mind. Seating was stadium-style, so the people behind you had an excellent unobstructed view. Even with my heavy photo-taking, I knew that I wasn't ruining the experience of those behind me. Our row comfortably sat 4 people across (and there were 3 full rows of available seating, plus the double-seater bench in the back next to the captain). So in all, if you showed up with a party of 14, you've got space in between you and the people next to you, and it's comfortable still for everyone! Each of us were also equipped with 2-way radios, which made it easy for us to communicate back and forth with the captain as needed; however, none of us travelers talked, so we all just listened to the captain's tour during our 1-hour ride along the St. John's River.
I have lived in Orlando for more than 20 years now, but this trip let me see the natural beauty of Florida's wildlife set in the landscape of the Florida wetlands. I LOVED the speed of our 550-hp airboat and the feeling of my face cutting through the wind as the occasional mist of the water would cool me down as we cut through the water and low-growing water greenery. The girls on our boat appreciated seeing all of the animals on the tour: Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Pink Roseate Spoonbills, dozens of cattle in the water (you just have to see this one for yourself), and if you're lucky: eagles!
Our captain was super-friendly. Seeing me with my camera, he encouraged me to let me know if I wanted to slow us down in order to photograph anything. About 40 minutes into the tour, there was a lovely area amongst the bald cypress trees where we stopped the boat in order to take some group photos with our phones.
As I stated at the beginning, once we disembarked our airboat, we walked toward the alligator pit where our captain reached into the water and pulled up a 4-ft alligator by the tail! After a few minutes of freaking out, we composed ourselves and each took turns gently holding our new reptilian friend for an unforgettable memory (captured of course via photo :) )
I'm surprised it took me this long to ever take an airboat tour. I would HIGHLY encourage you to also do so, and to book your visit with Midway. Great experience, great family fun for everyone!!