While we were on vacation we were lucky enough to be able to visit the Kennedy Space Center. We originally planned our day so that we would be there for the Space X rocket launch. Unfortunately the rocket launch was rescheduled for the Sunday following our visit, our first day back home from our vacation. Missing the rocket launch was really just about the only bad, uncontrollable experience (or lack of experience) from our visit to the Space Center.
We started our visit to the Kennedy Space Center with a tour of the rocket garden. The rocket garden is a great place to start your day at the space center, especially on a hot summer day. Since the rocket garden is outside it’s best to see this exhibit early before it gets too hot outside. Free guided tours of the rocket garden are given several times a day. The tour guide walks you through history of the rockets including the story about President Kennedy’s mission to put the first man on the moon just a short time after sending our first American, Alan Shepard, into space on a 15 minute suborbital-flight in his famous “We choose to go to the moon” speech.
After the rocket garden tour we jumped on a bus for a 45 minute tour of Kennedy Space Center. The buses were comfortable and air conditioned and drove through the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with views of the shuttle launch pads including the historic Apollo 8 launch site. The bus driver tells the stories about all of the sites as you drive by. In between the sites a video plays telling you a little bit more about the history of the space center. Did you all realize the space center is also a nature preserve? While on the bus tour you are sure to see lots of alligators in the water and on the banks of the canals you drive by. On our tour we were lucky enough to catch a view of a HUGE bald eagle nest in a tree right next to the street.
The bus tour drops you off at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. This is where you get to relive the shuttle launch that changed history. You are taken into an auditorium that looks over mission control of July 20, 1969. Here you get to witness the countdown of the launch of Apollo 8 while all of the lights on the control panel of mission control light up and the transmissions of the tv broadcasts are on the tv. I must say it was a truly emotional experience to sit there and relive this amazing day in history. After the launch you get to walk around the Saturn V exhibit. This exhibit is the largest rocket ever made and spans the entire room. It is pretty impressive to walk around and under this massive rocket.
After our visit to the Apollo/Saturn V Center the bus took us back to the main visitor complex. We had lunch at Orbit Cafe. The food was priced compared to pretty much any amusement park. Our family of 4 cost about $35 for lunch. Kennedy Space Center was nice enough to give us meal vouchers for $30 along with our admission tickets. The food was decent, nothing too impressive, but not terrible. *Insider tip* I noticed while we were eating lunch that there were several moms around us who packed their own lunches. Bringing in your own lunch would be a great way to save money on this trip.
We caught an IMAX movie after lunch. We saw the movie about the International Space Station narrated by Tom Cruise. This movie was in 3D and told the story about the Space Station and about what it’s like to live on the Space Station. I was surprised at how well this movie held my 3 year olds attention. My 8 year old got bored and was ready to move onto the next thing. I think she got ahold of a bad pair of 3D glasses that kind of messed up the experience for her. We treated her to the Angry Birds Space Encounter after the movie for her patience. Here the kids got to launch life sized angry birds, go through a mirror maze and play a laser challenge game. The kids would have stayed here all day if we would have let them. At this point they didn’t realize what they would have missed had we not visited the Atlantis Center!
The Atlantis Center was AMAZING. You get to see the space shuttle Atlantis displayed with it’s payload doors wide open. It is an awesome display! All throughout the Atlantis Center are interactive exhibits for children and adults. There is a huge slide that the kids went on over and over and over again until they were exhausted. We also went on the Shuttle Launch Experience. This is a 8 and a half minute experience that takes you through the launch and ascent into orbit. It is a pretty realistic experience. The cool thing is pretty much anyone can do this as long as they meet the height requirements. It’s really not as scary as it sounds. I tried to convince my 8 year old go and she wanted nothing to do with it and my 3 year old was too short and he was dying to go. Go figure.
Unfortunately it started storming while we were there so we didn’t get to go through the astronaut encounter. But on the positive side we got stormed in while we were in the Atlantis Center. The storm did cut down on our time to visit other things, but I couldn’t think of a better place to be stormed in.
I highly recommend everyone visit the Kennedy Space Center at least once. You would have a hard time finding a better place to have a lesson in history, science and space. Thank you so much to the Kennedy Space Center for hosting our family as guests! We had a fantastic time and plan to visit again!
For more information about the Kennedy Space Center visit their web site, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and subscribe to their YouTube Channel.