Florida Flywheeler's Park Another Magic Kingdom

There is another Magic Kingdom in Florida: the Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club show grounds

| April 1999

Leave your mouse ears at home: there's more than one magic kingdom in Florida. Head south about an hour out of Orlando, and rediscover the past at the Florida Flywheelers' show grounds. 

At a 160-acre site near Fort Meade, the 1,600 members of the Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club have re-created an old-time village. A blacksmith hammers at his forge. An 80-year-old steam-powered sawmill cuts through logs like a knife through butter (though with slightly more noise). The hardware store carries a full inventory of long-forgotten tools. Stained glass windows are propped against a wall at the church, awaiting installation. And over at Fred's garage, a mechanic is sprawled beneath a Model A.

In just three years' time, a village has sprouted from a field once thick with palmettos. Did the Flywheelers use magic dust? No, something more powerful: volunteers.

"We've got a lot of great members who just pitched in and went to work," said Flywheelers president Dick Edwards. "Everything here has been done totally by volunteers."

The volunteers have a vested interest in their village. Each building is conceived, designed and erected by an individual member, who also finances the undertaking. The structure then becomes the property of the club, but the builder retains control of the structure for the duration of his life.

"When there's a member who's interested in a certain thing, a specialty collection that goes along with farming and rural life," Dick said, "he can put up his own building, and house his collection in it. The club will own the building, but the guy who built it controls it, and he can pass that on to his children, if he wants."