Kissimmee: Old Florida in Central Florida

By: Gary McKechnie


Years ago I had the privilege to speak to Jennings Overstreet, a rancher who once sold some extra land in the sand hills of Central Florida he didn't think it was good grazing land for his cattle.

Turned out the land, at $125 an acre, was perfect for someone who had a different plan for the property. The buyer was Walt Disney.

Mr. Overstreet lived in Kissimmee, the city closest to the Walt Disney World Resort. While the land he sold has changed beyond anything he could have pictured, in many ways Kissimmee hasn’t changed a bit.

Surrounding the hotels and motels and gift shops of Highway 192 are vast tracts of land where cattle still graze. Then there's Old Town, the entertainment complex of shops and restaurants and attractions where vintage cars park every week. And the city takes great pride in presenting the popular Silver Spurs Rodeo, here since the 1940s and still the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi. Take a look at the retro cool downtown on the shores of Lake Tohopekaliga (a great spot for fishing and boating).

If you want to see what Orlando looked like before the arrival of Walt Disney World, spend some time off the beaten path in Kissimmeee. It's all right here.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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