By Princess Diva
You have spent a lot of time and energy planning your family’s trip to Walt Disney World, but after long lines, and princesses and pirates as far as the eye can see, your family is ready for a bit of a change. Problem is, you have a couple of more days before you head home. What to do with your time? I have an awesome solution sure to please princesses and pirates alike: Kennedy Space Center!
I vaguely remember visiting when I was younger, so I wanted to head back and take everything in as an adult. Having three boys, one of which is totally into science, I knew that they would love it.
Located about 70 miles from Walt Disney World is a place where kids and adults can dream to the stars and beyond. It’s a great interactive way to learn about the history and future of NASA and our space program. Here is what our day looked like:
We decided to do our exploration on a Thursday. We woke up and headed out early with every intention of arriving when the space center opened. We didn’t take into consideration that we would probably run into rain (summertime in Florida). And let me tell you, did it ever rain! So, we ended up arriving about an hour and a half after the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opened. Hours can vary, but usually run from 9 AM to 6 or 7 PM. You can check the hours here. We paid our $10.00 and parked very easily. Walking to the main gates from parking was quick and there we purchased our basic tickets for the day. Adult tickets will run you $50.00 and children (3-11 years old) are $40.00. You get to experience quite a bit with your general admission ticket…a general bus tour, Space Shuttle Atlantis, IMAX films, and much more. You can purchase tickets on line up to 120 days from the date you would like to visit. We bought ours at the gate and we waited maybe 10 minutes.
Diva Tip: Stop and take your picture at the front gates. There are photographers all over the park that will take pictures for you. They will use your cameras or they will use theirs and give you a paper ticket to view them before you leave. Each picture means a new ticket, so if you want to see these, keep track of your tickets.
We weren’t really sure where to start or what was even available for us to see during our visit, so I found great sample itineraries to use to help us navigate our day around the complex. You can check them out here. We decided to loosely follow the One-Day Visit: Family and Children.
We started off by heading to see Space Shuttle Atlantis with Shuttle Launch Experience, which was totally my absolute favorite part of the day! After a short wait (we’re talking 5 minutes from when we walked up) we were taken to a theater to learn a bit about the history of building the space shuttle. When that video was over, we were taken to another room and shown another video about Space Shuttle Atlantis. At the end of the movie, the screen in front of you changes and you can see Atlantis in front of you. The screen lifts and you are now face to face with the actual Space Shuttle Atlantis. Such a cool moment (the teacher in me was over the moon)! In this enormous building you can find over 60 hands on exhibits to help you learn more about this amazing vehicle. I’m sure we could have spent half the day in this building alone.
Diva Tip: Take your time and look at everything. There is so much to see and do here. The kids (and adults) can slide just like the astronauts do exiting the shuttle after landing, and go through a shuttle launch experience.
We were ready for lunch, so we stopped at the Orbit Café for a quick bite to eat. I’m pretty sure this was our longest wait of the day. We grabbed lunch and headed to find a table outside. Lunch was good, think any quick service counter meal at Disney. Here’s a menu to check out for yourself. If you plan ahead and purchase a ticket you can have lunch with an actual veteran NASA astronaut. This is something we will be doing on our next trip back.
We decided to go on the general bus tour next. This is something that takes on average 2 hours to do. The first stop on the bus tour was for a view of the launch pad. Here you can grab a quick snack, do a little shopping, and re-board the bus for your next stop. The second stop is at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Here we got to see inside of mission control and experience what a launch would have been like for the men on the ground, you get to stand underneath the huge 363 foot rocket, and actually touch a moon rock. After heading back to the bus, we decided to make our way over to Angry Bird Space Encounter before leaving the complex for the day. This exhibit is just like being in the Angry Birds Space game. Kids will be learning about physics and space exploration here without even knowing it. There are five interactive stations for visitors to participate in, including a huge slingshot where you can fling Angry Birds and earn points for your team.
We had only hit three major attractions at the end of our day, but were completely satisfied with all we had experienced. This left it wide open for a return trip where we could see the IMAX movies, visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and take some of the other amazing tours that Kennedy Space Center offers. Would you take a day out of your Disney trip to visit Kennedy Space Center?