Update March 4, 2014: Fantasy of Flight, an aviation-themed attraction in Polk County, will close to the public April 6, 2014 and will concentrate on its private-event business, owner Kermit Weeks told employees on Tuesday.
Fantasy of Flight is an aviation-related attraction in Polk City, Florida that takes visitors back to the pioneering days of early flight, World War I, World War II and beyond. Fantasy of Flight houses the world’s largest private aircraft collection on display. Fantasy of Flight is the only attraction in the world to offer daily aerial demonstrations (weather permitting) of aircraft in its collection. The attraction showcases an aircraft each day.
Themed “immersion experiences” showcase memorable moments in aviation history, and a self-guided audio tour gives visitors information about aircraft in the collection as well as insider details about featured aviators. Guided tours go behind the scenes to show how craftsmen restore vintage planes.
The facility features a main building consisting of two large hangars (called “North” and “South”) for the aircraft on display, restoration shops, the immersion environments, a gift shop and the Art Deco themed Compass Rose Diner. Just outside the main building across from the entrance is the facilitiy’s new ropes course and zip line attraction known as “Wing Walk Air.” Outside the hangars there is an adjoining tarmac and two grass runways. On the north side of the runways are a maintenance hangar and conference facility. A “back lot” to the south of the main complex contains warehouses, storage and restoration facilities.
Visitors walk through several immersion environments as they enter the attraction. From the lobby, guests walk into the interior of a WWII-era Douglas C-47 Skytrain complete with lighting and sound effects as if the aircraft were conducting paratrooper operations. Guests pass a seated paratrooper in full kit and move forward toward the Jumpmaster figure standing at the open side hatch. Over the hatch blinks a red “Ready” light which switches to a green “Jump” light as the guest approaches the hatch. Through the hatch is the entry to the attraction.
Other immersion environments include a “sensation of flight” simulator, followed by a celebration of the early days of flight. Then, a passage covered by heavy shrapnel-resistant curtains leads visitors into a full-scale representation of the trench warfare of WWI, complete with aircraft overhead. It was, in part, due to the development of aerial warfare that trench fighting became obsolete.
The final immersion display includes the collection’s Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress housed in a large darkened room staged to appear as a winter evening at RAF Horham, home of the 95th Bombardment Group during WWII. The full-scale diorama, complete with ground vehicles, outbuildings and landscaping, represents a maintenance area and one of the B-17’s engine cowlings and propellers are removed to maintenance stands in front of the aircraft. Guests can enter the plane via a side hatch in the tail, walk through the bomb bay, visit the cockpit, and exit near the nose of the aircraft.
The Compass Rose Diner
Adjacent to the attraction’s lobby is an Art Deco themed restaurant called “The Compass Rose Diner” which features the characteristics of diners associated with airports during the 1930s and early 1940’s. The restaurant features tall windows, multi-hued terrazzo floors and the curved architectural lines associated with the Art Deco period. The diner is open to the public and serves a short-order menu similar to that of lunch counters popularized during the pre-WWII era.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Fantasy of Flight, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0