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Fantasy of Flight - Polk County
Just a short way off Junction 44 on the I4, Fantasy of Flight is within easy reach of anyone staying in a villa in the Kissimmee area. We find this place and its owner Kermit Weeks, who was performing a fly past the last time we visited, absolutely fascinating.
You enter the art Deco building to be greeted by a character who is dressed like a First World War pilot and who set the tone for our experience. He guided us to the admissions desk where they explain the activities and options for the day.
General Admission to Fantasy of Flight includes Immersion Environments, Tram Tour, Wood Shop Tour, Restoration Shop Tour, video presentations, simulators in the Fun with Flight section and a daily aerial demonstration. There are Aircraft Displays in the North and South Hangars – where we were taken to get up-close to the world' s largest private collection of rare and vintage aircraft. There are more options for taking rides in Biplanes and even being a pilot if you have $250 to spare.
We chose to keep our feet on the ground and paid the $28 each for admission (please note we could have used a discount coupon if I had remembered to bring it).
I am extremely claustrophobic so my husband had to examine the first part of the immersion experience before I would go in. It was a mock up of the trenches in the First World War. I need not have worried although it was well done but it did make me feel uncomfortable, as indeed it should.
The route took you through a genuine B17 plane which had a special platform to simulate the feeling of flying. This could be avoided if you wished as the stairs were a little difficult to negotiate by some people.
There was a lot to see and do in the following buildings but we cut our playtime short in the interactive area as we were due to go on the tram tour round the Backlot. I would have said this was not suitable for children but there were 2 young boys who were on our tram who loved it and were full of interesting and relevant questions. There was also a gentleman who was 92 who had flown one of the planes in the war. He was given special access to the sheds where the rest of us had to stay on the tram.
We then went for lunch in the Compass Rose Diner, all very art deco in style, with tasty, reasonable priced food.
It was then time to meet the man himself – Kermit Weeks-; a colourful character with an interesting history in aviation and adventure. He inherited a great deal of money from his grandfather who had shares in Australian oil fields. Kermit sees himself as a visionary and indeed his vision for this whole area is an interesting one which will be fascinating to follow. He is a very accomplished aviator and he performed a flypast for us in one of the vintage aircraft. My husband was very impressed as the plane flew so slowly at such low altitude. I do not understand the science so it was a little lost on me but I did enjoy the sight of the aircraft.
In a way this is a theme park in the making but with a difference in that you have to be involved it does not try to entertain you but to inspire you. If planes and engines are your thing then it is a do not miss but even if you are only marginally interested in planes it is worth the trip.
It is always worth looking at their website as they do have a variety on events throughout the year.
Fantasy of Flight is open 10 am - 5 pm daily, excluding Thanksgiving & Christmas.
The diner is open from 11am-3pm and the gift shop from 10am – 5 pm. There is no admission charge to get in the gift shop or diner and no parking fee.
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