After a year of dormancy, Fantasy of Flight, Kermit Weeks’ vintage aviation attraction in Polk City, Florida, has reopened to the public in a limited fashion.
“We have opened a small scale museum housed in our former maintenance hangar,” explains Kandice Stephens, operations and events manager for Fantasy of Flight. “We will have 11 to 15 aircraft on static display, rotating in and out of the facility. In addition, we have our main facility, where we host special events like corporate galas and launch parties.”
Aircraft on display include a B-24, the Grumman Duck, and the ever-popular P-51 Mustang (pictured below). In addition, Waldo Wright’s Flying Service will offer biplane rides for a fee.
When Weeks closed Fantasy of Flight’s doors last April, he told the aviation world it was so he could “re-imagine the attraction” to what he is calling “Act III.”
It was a necessary move, he says.
“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,” he said. “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.”
According to Weeks, the development of Act III is well underway.
“I hired the lead designer for all three Universal Studio parks, Bob Ward, as my right-hand guy. We then hired the ex-Disney ideas crew led by Bob Allen to do a market research and feasibility study that will be completed sometime in April,” he says.
The decision to reopen the museum in a limited fashion was made for several reasons, according to Weeks.
Foremost is that is a means “to stay connected to past supporters of Fantasy of Flight and to have a place to display some of the airplanes,” he explains. “It has the potential to be used in the future as a preview center and possible beta test site for future attraction elements.”
“The long-term goal for Act III is to come up with a compelling product that will be appreciated and loved by everyone that comes through our doors,” he continues. “The longer term goal will be to expand on what we create in Act III.”
Weeks hopes the reimagined attraction will help people reimagined themselves.
“Our future goal is for people to first take away a smile by enjoying the entertainment we offer,” he explains. “If we deliver that well, the second thing will be for people to take away a shift in perspective and how they see themselves on their own personal journey and — if we really do our job well — the third thing we hope to deliver is our mission statement, which is to light that spark within! Fantasy of Flight will not directly deliver this, only create the environment with which our future patrons create that spark within themselves. No one will tell them anything, but by the way we deliver our product they will discover it for themselves.”
“I am very passionate about what we are about to create as there is nothing like it,” he continues. “I believe it has tremendous potential to touch people in profound ways.”
The timeline for the completion of Act III is four to five years out.
Meanwhile, the museum will be open at what have been traditionally peak visitor times, according to Stephens.
It is open now Fridays through Sundays until April 26, which is the last day of the annual SUN ’n FUN Fly-In in nearby Lakeland, Florida. It will close again until June 19, opening up for the summer until Aug. 2, when kids go back to school, she notes.
“We will reopen again around Thanksgiving,” Stephens adds.