Kermit Weeks attempted to create an exact reproduction of the Benoist aircraft that had its first flight 100 years ago on Jan. 1, 1914.
Polk City, Florida -- The owner of Polk County's aviation attraction Fantasy of Flight has made the decision to close its doors to the public in April.
Kermit Weeks issued a letter to employees saying a "misperception" by the public of the attraction's purpose led to his decision to move forward with his vision of what he knows it can become.
"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 plans to transition Fantasy of Flight from a tourist attraction to a facility that restores and maintains historic planes and can be used for private events like weddings, birthday parties, meetings and corporate events. The Wing Walk Air Confidence Course and Zip Line will remain.
Weeks says he is optimistic his long-term vision 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."
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.
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