[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-e65UAp6wA]Most people think of Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort when they think of Orlando, Florida. Their thoughts are filled with awesome amusement parks, sunny skies and a parade of rides and shows that are thrilling and entertaining. All of this is true, and can create a wonderful Orlando vacation memory. However, if you’re looking to experience the other side of Orlando, I’ve found a unique way to accomplish just that.

On a recent trip to Orlando, I visited the Fantasy of Flight Museum, which is located a few miles south of Kissimmee. I have an interest in the history of flight, and the Fantasy of Flight Museum’s collection of vintage and rare aircraft promised to be an intriguing experience.

Upon arriving at the art deco inspired facility I realized that there was much more to the Fantasy of Flight experience than just their collection of aircrafts. Waldo Wright’s Flying Service is located on sight, as well as daily activities like restoration area tours and aerial demonstrations. I immediately went for a thrilling ride in one of Waldo’s bi-planes, a vintage barnstormer new standard D-25, and experienced one of the most amazing rides of my life. The open air cockpit allowed me to see amazing views of the Orlando scenery, including the lakes and orange groves that surround Fantasy of Flight. The ride lasted approximately 20 minutes, but it seemed to literally fly by as I was so immersed in the vintage flying experience. With my Amelia Earhart style flying goggles and cap on, the ride gave me a unique insight into what it would’ve been like to fly when aeronautics first got its wings. The activity does cost $69.95 per person, but it is worth every penny.

The museum portion of my visit was also awe-inspiring, simply due to the history and detail I found. The Realistic Immersion Environments were a real treat and they allowed me and my companion to experience the earliest attempts at flight, the WWI trenches on the Western front and we were even able to climb aboard an authentic B-17 Flying Fortress. There are also historical areas dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen and WASP flyers. A Fun with Flight Center is also available for kids as well as Corsair Fighter Game Simulators, for the kid in all of us. I would definitely make time for the Tram Tour too, as the wood shop restoration center, restoration shop, runway visit and maintenance hangar provide an up close look at aviation you won’t be able to experience elsewhere.

When I visited, I had Smilin’ Jack as my tour guide, and I would recommend his services to any visitor who wants a detailed discourse on all of the planes and services available at the museum.

Their on-site restaurant, the Compass Rose Diner, also serves up some delicious lunch items, all with an aviation spin. The diner is reminiscent of 1930’s & 40’s diners, complete with soda fountains, which served up some tasty drinks.

Visitors to the Orlando Fantasy of Flight Museum can truly make a day of it, as this is an all encompassing attraction. On your next Florida vacation, make time for the Fantasy of Flight museum and you’ll see why this attraction is on a higher plane than the rest.