Museum of Military History: A Hidden Treasure in Kissimmee, Florida

Lisa Fritscher July 7, 2014 No Comments

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Military History Museum Entrance

The Military History Museum was very well done.

The Orlando area is packed with well-known brands, from the world famous theme parks to such global attractions as Ripley’s Believe It or Not. While these are all well-worth your time, the region is also home to dozens of hidden gems—quieter and less expensive places that provide a rainy day alternative or a midweek break. On Dad’s birthday this year, we and a friend decided to check out some smaller venues. The Museum of Military History was an unexpected find.

About the Museum of Military History
The Kissimmee stretch of Highway 192 was largely developed in the 1970s by attractions and junk shops eager to cash in on the tourism boom created when Walt Disney World opened its doors in 1971. By the mid-1980s, the road was affectionately known as Orlando’s Route 66 due to its plethora of low-budget roadside attractions and offbeat restaurants. During the 1990s and early 2000s, however, Disney and Universal Orlando built feverishly, creating multi-day entertainment complexes designed to keep visitors on site for their entire vacations. Many of the Highway 192 attractions died off.

Military Dogs

Animal lovers will enjoy seeing the important role that dogs have played in the military.

The winds of change being what they are, locals have turned to revitalization efforts in recent years. Higher-end chain restaurants, dinner shows and even new attractions have gone in, creating a new entertainment strip for both local residents and tourists searching for an alternative to the theme parks. The Museum of Military History fits perfectly into the new Highway 192 dynamic.

The museum began life in 2003 as a tent housing a small collection of donated items at the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall in St. Cloud, a few miles from where it is today. The collection moved into a storefront in the Osceola Square Mall a month later. It gained nonprofit status in 2004 and moved around the mall a few times as the group searched for a permanent home. In 2012, the Museum of Military History finally opened its doors in its current location.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. As of 2014, admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors over age 60, $5 for students and veterans, and $4 for 100% disabled veterans. Kids under age 5 are free. The museum periodically hosts special events including reenactments and speaking engagements by military heroes.

 

Military Jeeps

The long line of Jeeps from different eras makes a great photo op!

Our Experience
Along with a friend, we arrived at the museum shortly before 4:30 p.m. We were warmly greeted by the Army veteran behind the desk, who had a spirited conversation with my Navy veteran father. We browsed the eclectic gift shop, packed with authentic uniforms and other items from a variety of eras, before heading inside.

The 10,000 square foot space houses donated items from throughout American military history, from a wide range of Jeeps to Buffalo Soldier uniforms and paraphernalia. The collection is divided into a loose timeline that heavily pays tribute to both those who gave their lives for freedom and the veterans who were fortunate enough to come home.

We spent nearly an hour and half in the museum, taking our time, reading all the signs and discussing different pieces of the collection. If you are pressed for time, you could see the highlights in under an hour. The staff is highly knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions you or your kids might have.

Buffalo Soldiers

The Buffalo Soldiers collection was particularly intriguing.

Tips for Parents
Although it is not interactive by modern standards—no high tech simulators or video games—the museum is fascinating to those of all ages. If anyone in your family served in the military, this is a great opportunity to share stories with your kids. The quiet atmosphere and the weighty history of the items, all personally donated by veterans or family members, spark the imaginations of kids and adults alike. You are welcome to sit in the Jeeps and even pose for photographs.

Check the schedule of events on the museum website before your visit. If your kids are restless, they might have trouble settling down into the respectful quiet appropriate for the museum. Yet a reenactment or guest speaker could be just what they need to make a more personal connection with the collection.

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avatarAbout the Author:

Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

Tags: Reviews, Sharing Experiences, Tips and Hints, Travel Excursions, Uncategorized

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