I remember my first flight; a KLM 747 from JFK to Amsterdam, en route to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. I was only seven, and so I thought the airplane would shoot straight up into the sky on a nearly vertical trajectory. Flying in an airplane was a fantastical voyage for me then. It still is.
So I get why Kermit Weeks began amassing his own collection of vintage airplanes at Fantasy of Flight to preserve their romantic history.
Where we went, and who was coerced into going:
We were looking for large on our summer vacation to Orlando, and we weren’t disappointed. After an itinerary of gators, potatoes, planetariums, and Big Macs, Fantasy of Flight offered something a little different — the world’s largest private collection of vintage airplanes.
WHY did you go there, exactly?
We stayed in a lovely USA Vacation Home in Davenport, which was 20 miles west of Orlando. This location brought us pretty close to Polk City; too close to pass up the opportunity!
Okay, what was so cool about it?
This attraction offers more than a museum of old planes. You know that wouldn’t be enough to hold a kid’s interest! Even in the main hangars, there are several planes to climb into and play with the controls, as well as a few flight simulators.
The “immersion experience” is one of the first areas you’ll pass through. The interior of an entire hangar recreates a World War II bombing mission, with eerily realistic lighting, sound, props, and even mannequins in uniform.
The path leads you up into the back of the “Picadilly Princess,” a Boeing B-17 G Flying Fortress, and you exit beneath the cockpit at the front. There was really informative signage at each station within the plane describing the roles of the navigator, waist gunner, and other crew members. The Boy (12 years old) and I really enjoyed it. The Girl (five years old) was a little scared by the sound of gunfire, so Matt found a way to bypass this area.
We spent the most time in the “Fun with Flight” center geared for kids. The hands-on displays present different properties involved in flight, such as the paper airplane lanes where you can launch your creation to see how far lift will take it. You can ride the hot air balloon and hang glide simulators.
I was glad we scheduled our visit to coincide with the daily aerial demonstration. Kermit Weeks, the owner and a former aerobatics champion, performed on the day we visited. We were silenced by the roar of the P-51D Mustang “Cripes A’Mighty 3rd” as it took off over Lake Agnes, and again when it landed just feet away from us.
If you’re looking for a little extra adventure (at an extra cost), you can take a short flight in a vintage bi-plane, or an early-morning hot air balloon excursion. There’s also a new 600-foot outdoor zip line, Wing WalkAir.
How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):
This attraction is a stand-out for anyone intrigued by airplanes and flight. But really young kids may not find enough hands-on exhibits suited to their age. And while our visit was hosted by Visit Orlando, I personally consider the adult ticket price of $28.95 to be high, relative to the experience. (Admission for children ages 6-12 is $14.95, and is free for children five and under.)
Hey YOU! Go BIG!:
1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E., Polk City, FL 33868