All aboard the Orlampa Express! Orange grove and nature tour at Fantasy of Flight
Posted on May 20th, 2012 by Meghan Godby
We may have to wait until next year to enjoy the fragrant orange blossoms, but you can still get out and enjoy the groves. Fantasy of Flight is now offering orange grove/nature tours on a charming, open-air trolley: the Orlampa Express. I climbed aboard earlier this week and had a great time!
Since I arrived a little early, I decided to grab lunch at Fantasy of Flight’s restaurant, The Compass Rose (open daily from 11am-3pm). I went for the turkey wrap, but you can also enjoy burgers, salads, chili dogs, and more – all made to order. My food was affordable (under $10), arrived quickly, and was served by a very friendly waitress. The ingredients were fresh, and I was impressed with the quality of the side salad (no iceberg lettuce!).
At 2pm, our guide, Daisy Mae, took our “boarding passes” as we stepped onto the old-fashioned trolley car. From there, she took us on a trip back in time, pointing out examples of “Florida cracker” architecture before taking us into some groves. There may not be fruit on the branches, but the lines of neatly hedged orange trees are a sight all their own. Even as a Florida native, I learned a few things myself. Did you know that orange trees used to stand 40 feet tall? The workers would balance on a wooden ladder while filling their bags with up to 90 pounds of oranges! Trivia like that gives you a whole new appreciation for your morning glass of O.J.
The trip continued through open fields and cow pastures (look out for the baby calves!) before reaching the private grove on Fantasy of Flight’s property. This is a great opportunity to get some fresh air and enjoy a gentle breeze while taking in some beautiful scenery! After offering us a sample of a juicy Florida orange, she escorted us out of the trolley to talk about more about agriculture. Remember, there is more to Florida than just oranges. We grow strawberries, blueberries, and even peaches! Bring your camera, you’ll have a chance to take a photo with an old ladder and orange sack.
Our journey concluded in a beautiful piece of Florida wetland, one of our most important and treasured ecosystems. Daisy Mae stopped the trolley and allowed us to listen to the natural sounds of “real Florida” – you won’t hear “It’s a Small World” here! Keep your eyes open, you might spot birds, butterflies, snakes, or even a bald eagle!
Afterwards, I stopped by the Fantasy of Flight gift shop, where you can buy aviation related merchandise (clothing, mugs, etc.), citrus themed gifts and other goodies (local honey, jams, etc.). How about some orange flavored bubblegum for the orange lover in your life? If you’re missing those orange blossoms, why not buy some orange blossom perfume?
Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12
Tour length: Approximately one hour
Tour times: Currently departs at 10:30am and 2:00pm. Tours are expected to be offered year round, but departure times may change, so please call ahead. Walk-ups are accepted, but reservations are recommended.
Notes: You do not have to purchase Fantasy of Flight admission to take the Orlampa Express tour or have lunch at The Compass Rose. Just take I-4 to exit #44. Open daily with free parking. For reservations and more information, call 863-984-3500.