Attending the annual SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo has become more than just a rite of passage for generations of families. Those that have attended together share 47 years of stories that include camping under their plane’s wings in a tent, huddling together gazing at the night air shows, eating buttery ears of corn at the Corn Roast…and the list of memories go on and on. Because of social media, lessons learned from those parents can be easily passed on to the newbies looking for advice on how best to survive the challenges of “seeing and experiencing it all” with their children across over 1000 acres of the second largest aerospace convention in the world!
LET’S BREAK DOWN THE BASICS:
- Survival Gear
- Safety Realities
- Plan Your Day
- Ticket Suggestions
Attending an air show is an all-day adventure. Attending as a family is like participating in the game show “Amazing Race”. There is only so much space and muscle strength to carry all the needs of a family for every possibility. Here are the bare minimums the Pack Leader should ensure is taken along:
- Sunscreen and lip balm. Even on the cloudiest of days, every person should be protecting themselves from the UV rays. You’re looking up to the sky most of the day.
- Walking shoes. Leave the cute sandals home. Sneakers and socks are the way to go. Besides the long distances, many will establish their base camp in the grassy fields along the flight line. Protect your feet from blisters, sunburn and hot asphalt!
- Earplugs and ear protection. The jets are LOUD! Don’t take a chance of damaging your children’s hearing. Point out the aircraft ground crews wearing them making it “cool” for them to wear the hearing protection too.
- Hats and sunglasses attached with lanyards! Breezes and prop wash take many hats flying across the fields.
- Many recommend wearing matching color clothes to easily spot your children in a crowd. Consider wearing the same color as they need to be able to spot you too.
- Wear comfortable, layered clothing. Early mornings are much cooler than 4pm on an April afternoon in Central Florida.
- Wear clothing that is easily taken on and off. Think Port-a-lets! ‘Nuff said.
- Bring hand sanitizer wipes.
- Ponchos. It’s Florida. It rains. Skip the umbrellas.
- Bring the bare minimums from your wallet and keys from your keyring. These are hard to replace if lost and MANY are lost over the course of 6 days.
- Be sure to charge your cell phone prior to arriving. The up-to-the-minute information is available online so don’t miss a thing.
- Take a photo of your children when you arrive in the morning in the clothing they are wearing just in case you do get separated and have to alert security.
- For the younger set – strollers/wagons are advisable. Bikes, skateboards, etc. are only allowed in the campgrounds.
- It’s OK to bring chairs and blankets. There is plenty of room to spread out across great viewing areas and enjoy the aircraft flying by.
There’s a lot of excitement when attending an airshow the size of the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo. The reality is that the event is held on an active airport. Parents should take care to explain to their children how to behave and be safe around aircraft. There are spinning props, loud engines, moments that it’s difficult to hear, vehicles in motion, etc. Safety is paramount.
- If you have a child that just loves to take off on you – consider a backpack safety anti-lost harness.
- Remember when parents drilled their children to learn their home address and phone number? Well, gone are the days of landlines so at event such as this, its advantageous for children to know their parents’ cellphone numbers. Some parents write their numbers on a piece of paper and place it in their children’s pockets. Some write their number on their children’s arms with a sharpie. Whatever means you choose – a cell phone will be the easiest way to reconnect you with your child if you get separated. If you’re attending with other adults, include their numbers as well.
- Early in the day, point out examples to your children who they should approach if they get lost. SUN ‘n FUN utilizes police support as well as a security team of volunteers with bright matching shirts.
- Emergency services are located on the grounds for an event this size. But in the case of a small “boo-boo”, there is a First Aid station manned by medical professionals to assist attendees.
- Pets and Airshows don’t mix. Leave the pets at home. For all the safety considerations of children, the concerns for pets are even higher. Don’t be that pet-parent whose dog panics when they hear the F22 Raptor and they think the world is coming to an end so they bolt. Don’t be cruel and burn your dog’s paw-pads casually walking among the planes on 125-degree plus asphalt tarmac.
PLAN YOUR DAY:
- No one knows your family better than you. Spend some time reviewing the event website for the airshow schedule, workshop and forum schedules, evening entertainment, etc. Build in break times to sit in the (limited) shade, relax, rehydrate, enjoy a snack, and take a short nap. Plan indoor activities like the Exhibit Halls early in the day when it’s cooler.
- Each day offers different activities. Check out the DAILY SCHEDULE.
- Be sure to grab a complimentary copy of the IN-FLIGHT GUIDE when you enter the main gate. This guide will have a listing of the events including an EVENT MAP!
- The SUN ‘N FUN DIGITAL DAILY will include the up-to-the-minute daily airshow schedule, news, and stories of interest. CLICK HERE
- In general, youth (7-17 years of age) are half-price of adults for most ticket options. Children 6 and younger are free. CLICK HERE FOR TICKET OPTIONS.
- Carrying too much? Take advantage of Preferred Seating. The Preferred Seating area is located on the flight line. You will have access to seating, bathrooms, some shade (not all areas are shaded), bag storage, and complimentary water during the daily scheduled airshow. There’s no need to bring your own chairs or water!! This upgraded experience does sell out so purchasing tickets ahead of time is encouraged. Click here for more information.
- Florida Residents can take advantage of the Florida Resident Ticket Specials. Buy Saturday / Get Sunday Free! Only can make it on Sunday? That’s a great deal too plus it tends to be less crowded. GET YOUR BOGO TICKET
- Many families love the After 5 Evening Special Tickets. Available at the gate each day, these tickets are an inexpensive way to see the static aircraft displays and walk the grounds. If you opt for Wednesday or Saturday – you’ll be able to enjoy the evening airshow as well! At only $10 per person, this is a great bargain! Please note most displays including Exhibit Halls close at 5pm. BOOK AN AFTER 5 P.M. TICKET!
Attending the SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo is an adventure, and adventures when properly planned can be extremely enjoyable for everyone of all ages.