SUN ‘n FUN is Kid-Friendly FUN – Tips for taking kids to Lakeland’s Annual Fly-In

2018-04-14T08:23:17+00:00 April 3, 2018|Easter & Spring, Family Friendly Events, Things to Do|

We are already starting to hear the sound of planes flying over Lakeland, marking the start of the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo. Beginning Tuesday, April 10, Lakeland will host approximately 200,000 guests, volunteers, sponsors, performers, and exhibitors over 6 days at the 2nd largest fly-in event in the world, held right here in Lakeland. Whether you are a pilot, aviation enthusiast, or just looking for a fun family-friendly event, SUN ‘n FUN has something for everyone.

SNF Plane kids

SUN ‘n FUN is also the perfect way to introduce children to the world of aviation. You can view more than 4,500 aircraft from homebuilts to warbirds on the 1,000 acre SUN ‘n FUN campus, attend kids workshops, play in the KidZone, tour the Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum, and catch special events such as the Flight to Honor, afternoon Air Shows, Saturday morning hot air balloon launch, nighttime Air Shows Wednesday and Saturday, and MUCH MORE!

Airshow lakeland sun n fun

Many of you have likely watched the airshows from the side of the road near the airport, but if you’ve never been inside the gates of SUN ‘n FUN you are missing out on the MANY other features of this great annual event. Make this the year you check it out!

Fun Fact: During the week of SUN ‘n FUN the Lakeland Airport becomes the world’s busiest airport with over 14,000 aircraft operations with-in the span of a week.

It can be daunting to take kids to a new event, or any event that covers a large area, is mostly outside in the sun, and requires a commitment of a good part of the day, but with our handy tips below, you’ll be a pro before you even hit the entry gates!

Helpful Tips & Admission Info

  • Slather on the sunscreen – while there are vendors and exhibits indoors in the hangars, much of the event is outside in the sun.
  • Wear comfy clothes and walking shoes – you will be outside most of the day, walking on dirt, grass, and concrete.
  • Check out the SUN ‘n FUN map so you know what you might like to see – copies are available on-site as well
  • Stroller – the planes and exhibits cover a very large area. If you wouldn’t go to a theme park without a stroller, don’t go to SUN ‘n FUN without one either!
  • Backpack – backpacks are allowed, and are always the best way to carry gear when you need your hands free to keep track of the kiddos
  • Chairs, blankets, etc. – if you want to sit down and watch the airshow, you might like to have a blanket or chairs instead of sitting on the ground.
  • Earplugs or noise canceling headphones if you have little ones with ears that need protecting – some of the airshow planes get LOUD!

READER TIP: One Lakeland Mom reader says “Sunscreen, snacks, earplugs or other noise help if you are going for airshows, a lot of it is dirt so comfy clothes and shoes that can get messed up. It’s hot and dirty but lots of fun!!”

  • Pets
  • Coolers, outside food & drinks – there are plenty of food and drink vendors inside the event
  • Bicycles, hoverboards, skates, strap on skate shoes, golf carts, skateboards, kids scooters

Parking for SUN ‘n FUN is located off W. Pipkin Road. Shuttles to and from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport Terminal will no longer be available. Use 4175 Medulla Rd, Lakeland, FL 33811 (MAP IT) to get directions to the general area, and then follow signage or directions by traffic control officers as there are multiple entrances to the parking lots. CLICK HERE for additional info on getting there.

PARKING – $10/day or $40/week. Preferred parking available for $25.

READER TIP: One Lakeland Mom reader says to be sure you make a note or photo where you parked your car. Will make it much easier to remember at the end of the day!

Daily Rates:

  • Adult Admission Daily: $37.00
  • Youth (11-17) Admission Daily: $15.00
  • 10 & Under are FREE!
  • After 5pm Daily – Admission is only $10 for Adults & Youth (11-17). Ages 10 & Under get in free every day.
  • Discounts available for Certified Pilots, Members of Florida Air Museum, Aviation Member Organizations and Active U.S. Military – click here for prices

Florida Resident Deals for Saturday & Sunday:

(Must show some form of Florida ID or Drivers License at ticket window to redeem)

  • Purchase Saturday & Receive Sunday Admission for No Charge – Cost is $37 Adults / $15 Youth (11-17)
  • Sunday Admission Only: $30 for Adults / $10 Youth (11-17)
  • 10 & Under are free every day

Weekly Rates:

  • Youth (11-17) Admission Weekly: $60.00
  • Adult Admission Weekly: $150.00

Click here for more details on admission rates and discounts. 

SUN ‘n FUN Activities for Kids

Piedmont Aerospace Labs Workshops – Open Daily from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Grades K-6 will be introduced to the creative side of science. Explore kites, windsocks, parachutes, foam airplanes and paper airplanes or experience an art project on paper or your face. Try out a PC or a full motion flight simulator. Climb aboard and let your spirit fly in a real airplane or helicopter.

Grades 7-12 will have the opportunity to work with engines, electrical circuits, weather, wave forms, rocketry, construction skills, and robotics. Try out a PC flight simulator. Climb aboard and let your spirit fly in a real airplane or helicopter.

Click here to learn more.

Check out the Aviation-themed Kid Zone and Mobile Mountain at SUN ‘n FUN. Inflatables, zip line, games and more!

Kid Zone Pricing
BEST DEAL: Ride Inflatables All Day for $20
Single Ticket Pricing: 1 ticket for $1 | 26 tickets for $20 | 60 tickets for $40
Ride Ticket Requirements: Quad Jump – 10 / Rock Wall – 5 / Space Shuttle Slide – 2 / UFO Bouncer – 2 / Obstacle Course – 2 / Wall-E – 2 / Combat Trainer – 5 /

Click here for more details.

Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum – Open Daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Aerospace Discovery at The Florida Air Museum, Florida’s “Official Aviation Museum and Education Center” features a dynamic display of the best examples aviation has to offer including one-of-a-kind designs, classics, ultra-lights, antiques and war-birds. Walk through this Center for Aviation Excellence hosting exhibitors, lecturers, and authors. Explore interactive learning workshops featuring a wind tunnel, ham radio, and a hurricane station. See the new presentation of artifacts from our Howard Hughes aviation collection.

Click here to learn more. 

SUN ‘n FUN offers tours to college, K-12 school, home school, church, family, and scouting groups. Supported by Polk State College. During these tours, students, teachers, and chaperones have the opportunity to see one of the largest aviation events in the world. Our interactive walking tour may include flying aircraft demonstrations, historic aircraft, forums, high-tech ultralight and light sport aircraft, warbird airplanes, a museum visit and more. Pre-registration with advance ticket purchase is required. Book your tour by calling 863-904-4073. Click here for more details.

Get up close and personal with thousands of planes – from homebuilt planes to warbirds, every year there are new aircraft on display. Some of the planes on site are open for you to walk through or climb aboard. Kids will love seeing the controls up close and personal and meeting real pilots!

SUN ‘n FUN Family-Friendly Special Events

SUN  ‘n FUN hosts a daily airshow – click here for the full schedule. The planes performing each day vary but the week includes the SOCOM Para-Commandos, Warbirds, F-16’s and many other talented pilots.

This year the USAF Thunderbirds will perform the finale of the Daily Airshows on Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday beginning at approximately at 4-4:30 PM. (The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have canceled their appearance at SUN ‘n FUN this year due to the death of one of their pilots in a crash last week.)

Daily Airshows:
Tuesday, Wednesday – 2:00pm – 5:00pm
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday – 1:00pm – 5:15pm

Preferred Airshow Seating – this area is located on the flightline in front of the SUN ‘n FUN Announcer’s Stand. You will have access to seating, bathrooms, some shade (not all areas are shaded), bag storage and free water all day. Purchase allows for all day access to the Preferred Seating Area. Only $20 daily, children 10 and under are free. Click here to purchase online. (This cost is in addition to your entrance ticket)

When the skies go dark, the planes light up! Catch an amazing night air show on Wednesday and Saturday. A video from dusk at last year’s night airshow is included below.

Wednesday – 7:30 – 9:00pm
Saturday – 7:30 – 9:30pm – ending with FIREWORKS!

The Hot Air Balloon Launch happens Saturday morning between 6:30-8:00am (typically at 7am, weather permitting)

A great viewing location is Hallback’s Bar & Grill in the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport building.

On Saturday, April 14, join the 5K road race on the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport airfield during the 44th annual Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In. Runners will start the race on the airport’s terminal ramp flanked by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds jets and during the run will be able to witness the launching of over 20 hot air balloons. There will also be plenty of airplanes all around to keep your attention to the skies and off of the run.

Come join us for one of the most unique 5k race courses in Florida! Click here to sign up.

Check out the Classic Car Show on Saturday. Car viewing is included with SUN ‘n FUN Admission.

On Wednesday, April 11 at approximately 6pm, the Flight to Honor will return to Lakeland from Washington D.C. carrying WWII, Korean War, and other Veterans who have traveled for the day to see the memorials in their honor. This exciting and emotional event, filled with people cheering and clapping for our veterans as they disembark the plane, is a great way show your kids the importance of those who have served our country. Bring your signs and wear your red, white and blue. Show these men and women that we will never forget their service!  CLICK HERE for more details.

SUN 'n FUN Lakeland with Kids

Are you a SUN ‘n FUN pro? Have experience taking kids? Leave a comment below and we’ll add your suggestions to our list!

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