The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame and its partners are buying the land on Kissimmee’s W192 tourism corridor for a proposed $25 million complex that would include the 2-story museum and two tourist attractions.
“This was a vitally important step and very gratifying,” said Jim McCormick, director of development for the “Skydiving Experience” project.
The nonprofit museum paid $1.9 million for two of the four commercial lots at U.S. 192 about a half-mile west of S.R. 429 for the future museum, while a company linked to DeLand-based parachute manufacturer and skydiving company, Complete Parachute Solutions, paid $1.1 million for the lot that will house an indoor skydiving facility.
NAI Realvest’s Jason Toll represented the buyers throughout their site selection process. He told GrowthSpotter the fourth lot is under contract to a European company that operates the only vertical wingsuit wind tunnel in the world and scheduled to close in December. They plan to build the first such simulator in the U.S. at the Kissimmee site.
“It’s right in the hub of the tourism corridor, and it will serve skydiving enthusiasts who can stay for a week at time visiting the attractions and training,” Toll said. “Teams are going to want to come here from across the country to train on this wingsuit tunnel and see all that Orlando has to offer.”
McCormick said the projected museum budget is $15 million, and the two simulators will add another $10 million in value to the project. The museum board expects to spend the next year raising funds and hopes to begin the formal design process by early 2022. “We look forward to assembling a first rate team.”
The museum concept is ambitious, and it could be built in phases. It includes a two-story atrium lobby with a giant LED screen featuring skydiving videos that will be visible through the glass window wall of the atrium at great distance. Once inside, visitors would learn the history of the sport through artifacts and a series of interactive exhibits featuring touch-screen technology and virtual reality goggles.
They would begin the tour on the second floor, accessing it by an elevator designed to replicate a jump plane ascending to jump altitude. Then they would step out into an immersive 360-degree theater that gives them the sense of being part of a free fall. The building concept also includes a drop zone-style dining facility and private event space.
McCormick had a pre-application meeting with Osceola County planning staff earlier this year. At the time, much of the discussion focused on the potential noise impacts from the wind tunnel facilities and need for a noise variance. McCormick said the preliminary design indicated that they will be able to keep the project within the limits of the county’s noise ordinance and won’t need to apply for a variance.