A 1,000 foot-long boardwalk that trails off into the wetlands around Kissimmee, Florida is all that remains of the World of Orchids. Home to thousands of orchids, many of which were rare and unusual was scheduled to open to the public in 1992. Hurricane Andrew changed those plans when he tore through South Florida destroying many of the plants in the main nursey.
Employees and volunteers packed the remaining plants into trucks and moved them to the facility in Kissimmee. Once the plants arrived, members of the Central Florida Orchid Society worked to save the plants and open the center by March 12, 1993.
For those who remember the hurricane season of 2004, where it seemed like we were preparing for a hurricane every weekend, one named Charlie hit Florida on August 13, 2004. Charlie made landfall west of Ft. Myers at Cayo Costa, made a left turn and went through Kissimmee. At the time, Charlie was the strongest hurricane to hit the state since Hurricane Andrew. World of Orchids’ eleven-year-old structure suffered severe damage, which included losing part of their greenhouse. With its unique design, the greenhouse entire roof would need to be replaced. Unfortunately, the organization had no insurance nor any extra funds to cover the costs.
In shambles, the greenhouse was closed, but the shop remained open. Once visitors saw the condition of the greenhouse, they were astonished and saddened at its demise.
Even though it was closed, through 2013 it was still being listed places to visit, by the National Geographic, people have left the following reviews on Trip Advisor:
CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED!!!!
Found it on a number of recent sites and discovered when we arrived that has obviously been CLOSED for a LONG TIME! Shame on you National Geographic! It’s CLOSED!!!! – December 26, 2013
We went there last year and there wasn’t much there. What a waste of time. It is still listed as something to see in the area. The sign on the road should be removed. – March 15, 2013
I was at a World of Orchids just before Christmas. The gate had pad lock with chain on it, and the building looked very run down. No sign of people anywhere. I think this place has been out of business for a long time. Sadly, there are big sign on highway-very big green traffic sign. Tourists need to be aware so they will not waste time driving down there. – January 10, 2013
The review of December 26th was the last.
Closing on July 15, 2012, the sign on the door says that they would be moving to a new location. Today the greenhouse remains the same as it did the day Hurricane Charlie stormed his way through. With the humid Florida weather, the plants are still growing and in the murky waters that surround the area, you can see small fish swimming.