As a family-oriented business we try to have “field trips” every once in a while. It keeps everyone close as a team and not to mention adds some fun to our regularly hectic schedules. We had a good friend and client of ours flying in from California and talked about going to Fantasy of Flight out in Lakeland. It has been a long time since David and I have been there and thought this would be a great opportunity for everyone to have some educated fun. We have been dealing with vintage aircraft a lot and I thought this might put some pieces of the puzzle together. Especially for some of employees who aren’t familiar with vintage aircraft.
We arrived around lunch time but instead of eating we hopped on the tour tram. It took us all around the properties and shops.
Here is Rosey the Riveter explaining what they’re doing in the fabricating shop. She explained how they try to make everything period correct-even making their own parts.
They didn’t miss a beat at FOF. Everything had aviation details, even the bathrooms!
Interesting views from the porcelain captain seat…
One thing that I thought was SUPER cool were all the engines! They were EVERYWHERE! Kermit Weeks has warehouses full of engines. And I thought the P&W R2800-11 we found was an awesome-Kermit has about 20 of them! This man made our find seem like I found a penny on the ground…sigh…
Another cool thing you can do is walk with aviation through the wars. At the end you get to walk through a B-17 Flying Fortress and check out the war scene. REALLY COOL!
Leslie getting some stick time!
It’s Elchupacabre from the movie Planes!
Fantasy of Flight is filled with such history! I enjoyed running around like a kid in a candy store. We were able to stare at airplanes that were had such a history to them. To me, this was better than just reading about them in my aviation history books. Unfortunately, this Fantasy of Flight, the “Tourist Attraction” will be coming to an end. They will be shutting their doors after Sun N Fun this year. Kermit wrote a note via Facebook:
Fantasy of Flight owner, Kermit Weeks, announced today that effective Sunday, April 6, the attraction will be closing its doors as a public attraction and will focus on its private event business and the design and development of a new future destination attraction. “Although we are located just 20 minutes west of Walt Disney World, we’re currently outside the center of mass tourism and not perceived of as a destination. We have a great product, but people have a misperception of what we offer,” said Weeks. “After 18 years of being in operation, it’s time we close the attraction and move forward toward creating the vision for what I know Fantasy of Flight can become,” Weeks told employees today.
Fantasy of Flight will close the daily attraction and focus on its successful events business. It will also turn the facility into what it was originally designed for, which is a restoration and maintenance facility that will be needed to build future attraction elements. For those who wish to enjoy the historical aspects of aircraft, plans are to open an aspect of the collection in a reduced capacity and admission price later this year.
While saddened that closing the attraction will necessitate a reduction in workforce, Weeks is optimistic that his long-term vision and future product will mean far more jobs and greater impact to Polk County. “We have great employees,” said Weeks, “and will be working with several local, state and private agencies in the upcoming weeks in order to offer our employees assistance and training for the transition.” An event-focused staff will be retained as the facility continues to host weddings, meetings and corporate events, including team building and birthday parties via the Wing Walk Air Confidence Course & Zip Line.
Weeks assured, “This isn’t the end of Fantasy of Flight, it’s just the next step on the company’s journey to become what it was always meant to be – a quality attraction that uses entertainment as a means to an end for self-discovery and self-transformation. Think of this as a caterpillar going into its cocoon. We expect to re-emerge as a brand-new butterfly!”
Groups that are currently booked for admittance to the attraction after April 6 will be issued refunds (including deposits). Groups currently contracted for Wing Walk Air only and/or private events will not be affected by these changes. Annual pass holders will receive a pro-rated refund based on the date of purchase, and refund checks will be mailed to the pass holder’s address on file via USPS beginning April 8. If you are an annual pass holder with questions or to update your mailing address, please contact Brittani Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are sad to see them close their doors but we respect them in their decision. Glad we got to go before this announcement!
Check out Fantasy of Flight at http://www.fantasyofflight.com