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Having A Blast At The Kennedy Space Center

Miss Mayhem trotted off to school this morning in a whiff of excitement.  Today is ‘Space Day’ so she and her classmates are all dressed for infinity and beyond. Prior to the summer, she never showed that much interest in space, save for the odd alien book. Luckily a visit to the awe-inspiring Kennedy Space Center ignited a passion for space in us all. After the frenzy of the Disney Parks, it was good to switch our minds to adventure and learning. Here are our tips to maximise your Kennedy Space Center mission!

Should I include a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in my Florida itinerary?

Absolutely!  That said, tickets can be pricey so unless you have a little one who is truly space mad, I would recommend it for the 6+ age bracket (tickets for children age 3-11 are USD $40).  It’s worth booking your ticket online in advance to avoid any queues on the day.  Plan to spend an entire day here, we arrived just after opening at 9am and left around 5pm.

In addition to the basic admission (which gets you in to a LOT), there are add-ons such as ‘lunch with an astronaut’ and ‘Cosmic Quest’.

Make sure to check in advance show/talk timings so you can plan your day around them.

How far is the Kennedy Space Center from Disney?

It took us close to one hour to drive from Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort to the Kennedy Space Center. We stayed close by that night at the Hilton Cocoa Beach, which is perched on a nice stretch of sand with a small pool.

As with all the attractions in Florida, it’s worth arriving early to avoid the crowds and the heat (although most of the Space Center is indoors).

What should I bring?

Pack layers as despite the searing outside temperatures, inside the exhibits and on the bus was relatively cool.  Bring your own snacks and water.

Structuring your day

The Kennedy Space Center has a brilliant website offering their own tips and itineraries to maximise your time.  The Center is organized into ‘Mission Zones’ — allowing you to weave your way through the U.S. Space Program in chronological order: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle and beyond!

The Kennedy Center Tour Bus is included in the price of the basic ticket. I highly recommend making this your first port of call to avoid queues for the buses later in the day.  The bus tour takes 45 minutes and you’ll see launch pads, the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building and restricted areas of this working spaceflight facility. It was also interesting to get an insight into NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo partners such as SpaceX and view their facility from afar.

The tour finishes at the Apollo/Saturn V center in the ‘Race To The Moon’ mission zone (you can only access this following the bus tour). Our favourite part of this section was in the ‘Firing Room Theatre’; pretending to watch Apollo 8 on their mission to orbit the moon in 1968 aboard the massive Saturn V rocket. Inside the ‘Lunar Theatre’ was also pretty cool – reliving the Apollo 11 moon landing mission.

After lunch we went to ‘Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other’, which was my favourite mission zone. The moment where they unveil the magnificent Atlantis is truly spine tingling!  Here we had lots of fun learning about the International Space Station, including a pretend version for kids to crawl around.  

We went on astronaut training simulators and then Miss Jetlag and I embarked on the ‘Shuttle Launch Experience’ – brilliant fun although there is a height restriction. There’s also a giant slide that Jetlag & Mayhem were happy to go on whilst we pondered the surrounding exhibits.

The next Mission Zone was ‘NASA: Now and Next’ where we learnt about what NASA are currently up to. Included with admission are tickets to the IMAX theatre. We settled down with some popcorn to watch ‘A Beautiful Planet’ which shows our Earth at its finest.

Then as luck would have it, we timed the exit of our IMAX movie, with the start of an ‘Astronaut Encounter’ (again included with the price of admission).  In the aptly named ‘Astronaut Encounter Theatre’, we were honoured to hear an inspiring talk, including a Question & Answer session with Brazilian astronaut, Marcos Pontes.  In 1998, NASA selected Pontes as an astronaut candidate as part of Class 17. On March 29, 2006, Pontes launched from Kazakhstan with Expedition 13 aboard a Soyuz TMA spacecraft. Pontes lived and worked on the International Space Station for ten days before returning to Earth with Expedition 12.

The kids then let off steam in the Children’s Play Dome whilst we took it in turns to have a quick wander around the Rocket Garden (it was way too hot in the day at this point to subject the kids to anything more outside!). The only part of the Center we didn’t get the chance to tour properly was ‘Heroes & Legends’, which we will save for next time!

What’s the food like?

We had lunch at the Moon Rock Cafe inside the Apollo/Saturn V Center. I was quite surprised by the number of healthy choices and enjoyed a salad whilst the rest of the family munched on fried food! There are also a couple of other restaurants and cafes on site.

In conclusion!

We absolutely LOVED our experience at the Kennedy Space Center. After 5 days of glorious fun at the Disney Parks, it felt good to switch our brain back into learning mode (still with dollops of fun). Two things stand out for me;

1) the moment where the magnificent Atlantis shuttle is unveiled

2) hearing real life astronaut Marcos Pontes regale us with tales of space

Of course if you ask Jetlag & Mayhem, they’ll tell you the best bits were the big slide, going on the ‘Shuttle Launch Experience’ and seeing where astronaut’s go to the toilet!

You mustn’t miss this incredible attraction in Florida. We left with a renewed interest in space and are keeping a close eye on the next rocket launches!

 

Jetlag & Mayhem were guests of the Kennedy Space Center.  I was not paid for this review and this is all my own opinion

 

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