Space is definitely the final frontier! If you’re holidaying in Central Florida, don’t miss the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. It’s a fantastic attraction to take the kids that’s both entertaining and educational. It ended up being one of the highlights of our trip to Florida and a destination that the entire family enjoyed. Here are our best tips on enjoying a great day out and remember you can buy a multi-day ticket if you want to extend your visit.
Not only is it a training area and launch site, the Kennedy Space Center hosts an amazing visitor complex. This complex shares the history of the American space program and provides a glimpse of the future in space travel.
We arrive at 9am just before the center opens buzzing with excitement. It’s been of a dream of mine to visit since I was a kid when we watched shuttle launches at school.
After reading up about the Kennedy Space Center, we had a pretty good idea of the things that we wanted to see. First up was the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibition which flew 33 space missions. We rush to get there as we’ve heard it can get very busy. You can’t miss the entrance to Atlantis as it’s an flanked replica copies of the liftoff engines and a bright orange tank.
Inside the building, visitors are greeted with a short 12 minute film that describes the history behind the spaceship. And then it’s time to actually view the Atlantis.
It’s a thrill to see it up close. Equally exciting is seeing the attached Canadarm. I remember learning about the Canadarm back when I was a young kid growing up in Canada. It was our country’s contribution to the space program!
The Atlantis exhibit is impressive and features over 20 simulators and over 40 touchscreens.
We end up spending more than two hours in this exhibit which was incredibly kid-friendly and interactive. There are simulators to land the shuttle, do a space walk and fix a part.
There’s plenty of physical fun for kids to enjoy as well including a miniature version of the International Space Station and the “re-entry slide”.
Don’t miss the Shuttle Launch experience as it’s an amazing experience
We’re strapped in and experience a simulation of the space shuttle’s eight-and-a-half-minute ascent into orbit. Highly recommend but kids do need to be at least 44 inches tall.
The Atlantis exhibit celebrates its success but it also acknowledges the sacrifices. There’s a moving exhibition which pays tributes to the astronauts lost in the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters. It’s a reminder of the courage required by these astronauts to venture into space.
After leaving the Atlantis exhibit, we head to see IMAX films. The Center features two IMAX 3D Space Films which are each an hour. The first, A Beautiful Planet features the footage from the International Space Station. It also demonstrates the effects that humans have on our earth.
In Journey to Space, the film covers the history of NASA including past space accomplishments, current activities and future plans. Both are fantastic to watch especially with the 3D glasses.
It’s then off to Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted. This fun exhibit focuses on the future of space travel and where humans might colonise next.
There are lots of interactive features for kids to play with.
As you leave Journey to Mars, make sure you visit the Rocket Garden which is filled with rockets and spacecraft.
There’s also climb-in replica capsules that you can climb in. Be warned, it’s a little bit tight getting out.
We end our visit to the Kennedy Space Center with a walk through the Heroes and Legends exhibit that features the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
It’s filled with inspiring stories of the men and women who participated in the Space Program.
As we walk out of the centre, we’re reminded of the history of space travel and of the challenges ahead of exploring our universe. One question remains: Will we make it to Mars in our lifetime?
For more information, visit the Kennedy Space Center website.
Tips for Kennedy Space Center:
- Plan what you want to do before you get there. We consulted the invaluable Unofficial Guide: Beyond Disney Guide to SeaWorld. Universal Orlando & the Best of Central Florida book which included a chapter on the Kennedy Space Center.
- I recommend purchasing your ticket online to save time as you can skip the main ticket line and present your ticket.
- If there’s lots you want to see, purchase a multi-day ticket which allows you to come back.
- Get there early to beat the crowds. There were lots of school groups on the day that we visited.
- You can visit from Orlando (1-hour drive ) or stay at nearby Cocoa Beach.
Disclosure: Family Forays received complimentary admission for review purposes. All opinions are my own.