A couple weeks ago our family was on a Disney Cruise which left out of Port Canaveral, Florida. I had been to Florida before, but never Port Canaveral, and since our family was so close to Cape Canaveral we decided we absolutely had to take the opportunity and stop at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!
None of us had ever been before, and it seamed like an easy trip from where our ship landed. After we docked we rented a car, and drove straight to the space center which was about 20 minutes away.
Our son is 3, so at first I was unsure what we would or wouldn’t be able to do on our visit. On the website you can easily order tickets online for entry, and they have a really helpful section on how to plan your trip. I know most websites have information on how to plan your trip, but this one was very informative, and surprisingly accurate when it estimated how long you would spend at each exhibit! You could also buy additional items like tickets for having lunch with an Astronaut, special seating to watch a launch if you happened to time your trip just right, or an up close tour of the Launch Control Center.
We purchased tickets when we arrived with very little wait (on a Saturday as well!), and we opted just for the general admission passes.
We started off in Rocket Garden, which was an outdoor exhibit that was perfectly interactive for a toddler! Many of the replica’s of rockets gave people the opportunity to climb inside and see what it would be like to travel into space.
We actually started and finished our day here because there were quite a few things to see. There was even a launch pad gantry that the Apollo 11 Astronauts used when they landed on the moon.
There was plenty of signage to tell you all about how each rocket was used, and the details of the mission. There were also free guided tours of the area throughout the day. Again, totally perfect for a toddler who wanted to see these huge rockets in the sky, and have the ability to climb inside different rockets.
Next up we went to an indoor exhibit called Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted.
There were lots of interactive games that you could play along the way, and there were some very cool mock up’s of exploration vehicles like the Mars Rover which my son said looked like Wall-e.
We took a break and watched an IMAX 3D movie called Hubble 3D that outlined the many missions to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Some of the footage and images from the Hubble were incredible. I knew what the Hubble Space Telescope was going in, but had no idea what it actually uncovered when it came to space exploration. Plus popcorn was there for purchase so we were pretty happy. It was a nice break in the air conditioning, and an apportunitnty for our son to have a nap which he definitely needed.
Up next we went to my favourite stop – the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.
This was one of the larger exhibits, and it all started in an amazing way! We entered into a room with a giant screen to watch a short film about Atlantis. Once the short film ended, doors opened where we walked into another room and watched another short film about the actual launch and missions. The film surrounded us on the walls and ceilings, and as it ended the screen (which I actually thought was a wall) slowly rose into the ceiling and we were standing in front of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Very cool.
To see the shuttle in person was incredible. I didn’t actually expect it to be quite so amazing. It really didn’t look like I thought it would up close. It was so large that it was able to be viewed from two different floors, and exhibits surrounded it.
The payload doors were opened so you could see inside, and it’s Canadarm (yay Canada!) was fully extended for viewing.
The exhibits went over everything from building the International Space Station, to a memorial section for fallen Astronauts. I thought the memorial section was very well done because they did show footage of the shuttle taking off and where the initial issue was with the flight, but they stopped the film before it became alarming. They had a section with photos of all the lost Astronauts, and their families had donated some of their cherished items to be on display.
There were so many different simulators and games that we could all try out, including for the age range of my son. We could practice docking a ship, and there was even a simulator for being on a shuttle launch.
We finally took a break for lunch, and there were plenty of options both inside, and outside.
One of the options I would like to take advantage of when my son is older is Lunch with An Astronaut. After having lunch you can take part in a Q&A with the Astronaut, then even get a photo with them. It seemed like a great idea, but I wasn’t sure my son would be able to sit through it. Next time!
We had lunch at Orbit Café, and we ordered our whole meal on a computer screen and picked it up at the window. All of the lettuce and herbs were growing in towers in the restaurant which was pretty cool.
There were lots of spots to grab a bite to eat, and there was even a food truck for really fast food!
We of course had to stop at the gift shop, and we bought our son a NASA t-shirt and a $10 space shuttle that he just won’t stop playing with. He asks to wear his “space” shirt all the time, so we know this trip made a lasting impression on him.
After taking another tour of the Rockship Garden, we had spent 5 hours at the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex, and felt like we had seen all we needed to that day. At no point did we need to wait in line for anything, and we didn’t feel rushed at all. Everything was done at our own pace, and we had a blast! We would definatley recommend bringing a stroller for the yonger kids not only because of the amount of time you would spend there, but how large the facility is.
We avoided the Children’s Play Dome even though it looked pretty amazing! It was a space-themed playground that was outside, but covered so you could avoid the sun or rain. We chose to avoid it because there was so much we wanted to see that day, and we knew if our son saw how fun it looked we would never move on!
We also didn’t take the free Kennedy Space Centre Bus Tour. The bus tours are scheduled around launches, and the length is approximately 1.5-2.5 hours. Just based on length we decided our son would never make it, but it would take you past the Kennedy Space Centre, you could view the launch pad, and the you could see the Apollo 8 launch site and see the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
The tour left every 15 minutes so it was easy to catch, and it was self guided so you could stop at the Apollo/Saturn V Center for as long as you wanted, and then board the bus again.
I absolutely loved visiting the Kennedy Space Center Vistor Complex. I was actually really surprised how much I loved it! I did think it would be cool thing to experience since we would be so close to it, but the 5 hours we spent there didn’t feel long at all, and I would absolutely go back!
Now for the fun part – who want’s to win two free passes to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex?
The passes will be valid until 2018 which is plenty of time for you to make your way to Florida!
You can enter via the Rafflecopter App below, and the contest runs until Tuesday, December 8th, 2015 at midnight. This contest is open to residents of Canada and the US only. Good luck to everyone who enters!