Tuesday, June 11, 2019

In the Orlando Area? Take the Short Trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex


We decided to take a trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida over the weekend because we wanted to visit the John F. Kennedy Space Visitor's Complex. We have heard about it, of course, and seen pictures, but we wanted to see what it looked like in the flesh. We were not disappointed.  



Rocks from Mars? Oh yes, this was going to be even cooler than we thought. I wish you could see the detail better for the rock in the middle. It, and the others like it, had such pretty chunks of silver embedded in them. This among other things was what greeted us when we arrived. My son was excited because he's all about Mars and how someday he thinks we may be able to inhabit it. 👀


We picked up a map (I've learned long ago not to bypass the maps when you walk into a big place), and took a picture by the Heroes and Legends Astronaut Hall of Fame that was just to the left when we walked in. Admittedly, we were far too excited about the big rockets on display all around us to go inside. We agreed to walk in on the way out. Sadly, that did not happen because we ran out of time, and again, another lesson learned...if you're next to it and want to see it, go inside while you're there so you don't miss it.


Can you see though, why we were distracted? This was our view, just a few feet to the right of where we were standing.


I mean seriously, we were eager to get over there and explore. The rockets we'd heard about in books, seen on TV, marveled at in conversations...were all just steps away for us to see in person. What a wonderful gift to us all that the KSC is in existence. We picked a rather rainy day to go, and a lot of these things to see are outside. Fortunately for us though, there were a lot of things to see inside too. One such area, when the first rain came shortly after we arrived was the lot for Junior Astronauts. 


This was a covered dome area with lots of round picnic seating, and it's where we spent a good bit of time, out waiting a storm that was going by and dropping buckets of rain water.


No complaints from the kiddo though. This area had ropes to climb, rock walls, slides, etc. 


One point of amusement and slight alarm for me was that there was a little hole where the pole goes into the slide (metal going into peach structure in upper right area of the photo above). A baby squirrel that passed me by and saw I had nothing to eat climbed that pole and went right into that hole. My son (the monkey hanging on the bar) immediately turned around, laughed and asked me if I saw what had just happened. I agreed I did and he scrambled inside to see if there was a squirrel to see. I told him to let me know and I'd alert staff so no child became endangered (in my mind I was picturing a squirrel stuck in there and a kid happening upon it, scaring it into biting). No squirrel. It was sealed off inside. I can only imagine the squirrel knew what he was doing and made his way back out the way he went in. This place was a lot of fun for the kids. There was a smaller area inside too, sectioned off for tot-sized kiddos.


There are so many things I could discuss about what we loved, but I have to say by far, it was the fact that so many things there were very interactive that could be classified as my favorite consideration of the park. When you are taking children to an educational facility, and this was a place chock full of history and information, ensuring the kids are engaged matters. KSP VC has done a great job in making sure kids are entertained from start to finish.


We got to see quite a few things while we were there, we passed this building by but saved it for after our bus tour, because my son really wanted to take his time inside (yep, Mars was one of the features). In the photo above you see an actual moon rock.


Rocks from Mars (not the same that I mentioned at the beginning of the post), were also on display.


The photos they had on the outside of the building really bring to life the enormity of the situation of visiting places outside of the planet where we reside. I mean really, who sits around and thinks, 'We can visit another planet. It is entirely possible.' Apparently many, many people, and the fact that they have collectively worked together in many ways over many years, to make it happen, is nothing less than astounding.


One thing we did take time to do, and that I highly recommend, was the NASA Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour. It  took a bit of a drive to get us where we were going, but oh it was so worth it. This tour takes you through the otherwise restricted areas of KSC. We passed launch pads, stopped to take photos of one (while still on the bus), and learned a lot of history from the people on the TV monitors that played while we rode. We also saw the Vehicle Assembly Center and learned more about the competitive nature of the 2 big companies working there to expand/improve the space program. When we got to our destination, a lot of the things those televised tour guides had been talking about were right in front of our very eyes. It was nice to have that little bit of history given to us before we arrived.

Control Center for Apollo Missions
You can go anywhere you'd like while on this stop and get back on the bus that takes you back to where you started at any time (it's a short ride back because you don't go through the restricted areas you toured on the way there). We went to the movie clip of the first trip to the moon. It played for about 8 minutes on the walls up high while you stood. It was so strange to watch it and be so completely overcome with emotion as I was... I mean it's not like I didn't know the ending, or that they had a successful run, but just watching it I was so overfilled with happy for everyone involved, and for our nation. 

It was truly a joyous journey and I'm glad they have brought it back to life for the new generation of people who might not understand what a big deal, what an amazing feat it truly was to send men to the moon. I mean come on... people send people to outerspace in a rocket, and they can communicate with them...even way back then in 1969! I have trouble getting cell phone reception sometimes, and they were running live TV to the moon. Just one of many amazing, amazing, amazing things we saw happening in that show.

Then we went up a few stairs to sit down and watch the actual footage from the day it happened. The photo above is from that part of the bus tour.


We walked around a bit and looked at the various things showcased and marveled at the inside look we were getting for all things space. 


I also want to note that we went into 2 gift shops. One on the mainland and one here. This one had strawberry freeze-dried ice cream. As you can see, it had other flavors as well, we were just excited about the strawberry. Just outside of this area you could purchase fun photos if you wanted to...via a paper band they put on your wrist just before boarding the bus, and just after taking a couple of shots at the green screen. They superimposed your photo onto space scenes. We didn't buy ours (sometimes we do, sometimes we don't, and we'd just bought some in an entirely different location the day before), but we did take a look at them, and they did a good job blending the images into their backgrounds to make it look realistic. They were cute.


There were several places to watch an actual launch, and this is the one I preferred the most. It was just outside of the building with the gift shop (on the bus tour). There was only one group of bleachers here, so I'm guessing it is for elite viewing? I don't know, but they did say you can watch a rocket launch, first-come-first-serve, and if I lived anywhere near Cape Canaveral, I'd be all over it trying to get my space in that line. The next rocket launch, if you are interested, is June 24th, 2019. A good thing to note is that the bus tour does not run on the days (or immediately after) a rocket is launched, so be sure to check schedules prior to visiting for recreation purposes only (because you wouldn't want to miss this portion of the trip).


This is the view you see from those particular bleachers.


When we returned from the bus tour, we went to the area where the Atlantis "mission zone" is located. It's amazing to see something in person that you saw televised. It's also a wonder to hear how technology has changed and get a better understanding of space travel in general.


We also took in one of the free shows at the IMAX theater, with us choosing to see Apollo 11. We even purchased popcorn and drinks to make it an entirely authentic movie date. :)


It was getting closer to our 6pm closing time at this point in our visit, so we headed over to see the displays that had been to, or were talking about trips to Mars. The Mars Rover was huge and the wheels indeed clued you in to how different of a vehicle they had to prepare to roam across its surface (which again, if you think about it, is absolutely, stupendously amazing). I know I've already said it, but I am in awe over what people are able to do. It is far beyond any scope of imagination I could muster, and one visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will not only leave you full of admiration, but it will also add a hefty boost (pun intended) to your patriotism. So many people are able to do so many dreamy things, and our country has been a trailblazer in many ways, for a lot of those things when it comes to exploring space. There were other vehicles to see, along with photographs of them being used, inside of the building. You could also put together a post card to send home electronically that took your picture and put you on Mars, in a space station, in a space suit, etc. (fun!). 


We could have spent all day in just this building, so I was glad we went into it last!! Like I mentioned earlier, my son loves all things related to Mars. It makes me smile because my generation was all about going to the moon (though I wasn't alive when that happened, it was the big event that took place closest to the year I was born), my son's generation has taken that for granted (that we can travel to the moon) and is all about pushing the boundaries to what the next big thing could be.


On the way out, we checked out the model above to see how it would feel to sit in it. I have to say my 11-year-old was far more comfortable inside of the smaller space than I ever would be. I complain if I have to sit in a car too long where the driver has the seat back, or I can't put mine back because someone is in the back while I'm driving. 😋


Just imagining being tucked in a single seat, upside down, for days on end was enough to make me want to stretch my legs. Guess I'm not prime material to be an astronaut (something I already knew). My hats off to each and every man or woman who has taken this route in life though. What an amazing career path to pursue, regardless of if you would be in the actual launching of a rocket or not (and on that note, let me backtrack to the movie of the landing on the moon, to note Neil Armstrong was so very generous to thank all of those people involved in he and his crew being able to land on the moon...authentic good manners were all over the place, and it was so refreshing to hear).


My advice if you haven't visited the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, is to come when they open and stay until they close. There is definitely enough to see and learn if you do.



There certainly were a lot of 'Look over there, Mom!' moments, and I so appreciate that we got a chance to kick off our summer traveling adventures, by visiting this wonderful facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Know Before You Go:

  • The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located in Cape Canaveral, Florida, about an hour away from Orlando.
  • There is a fee for parking. We drove a car and paid $10 for the day. The lot is not huge so even if you get there later in the morning, like we did, and have to park in the back, like we did, it's not that far of a walk.
  • There is a kennel available during operational hours (no overnight stays). See conditions on website.
  • There are places to buy food inside of the park, both in the traditional area and where the bus tours land.
  • You can bring your own soft-sided cooler with food, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Most things are included in your admission price, including the bus tour to the otherwise restricted areas and the IMAX movies.
  • You can pay for extra events such as 'Lunch with an Astronaut' or the 'Astronaut Training Experience'
  • Check before planning to see if you will be there on the day an astronaut is doing a meet-and-greet; find out when a rocket might be launching; see what/if any special activities are planned.
  • Be flexible. If you are planning to visit on launch day, know that it is not uncommon for a launch scrub to take place, which means there will be no launch for that day after all. Many factors affect whether or not the rockets can go.
  • Bring an umbrella. If it rains your day won't be ruined, there are a lot of indoor things to do, but you have to walk outside to get from one to the other.
If you have more questions or are ready to buy your tickets, you can visit the 
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex website.

74 comments:

  1. It would be a truly fascinating place to visit.

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  2. I have an ex that has a sister that works at NASA. She knows all the astronauts.

    How fun to visit! I love how the photos turned out!

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  3. I would love to take the family there. It looks like a lot of fun and a great way to learn some new and interesting things.

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  4. Wow, breathtaking photos, what a fantastic trip! I've been looking for a trip for my pre-teen kids and this looks like a home run! (At least we know there is something we can do for less than $60 million right...?!! hahaha!!)

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  5. I have always wanted to make this trip. What a great opportunity this would be.

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  6. That would be a fun place for anyone to visit.
    What did the strawberry freeze-dried ice cream taste like?

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    1. We haven't tried it yet. It's waiting for us on the coffee table though. :)

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  7. What a great place to visit! Especially if you have kids ;)

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  8. My favourite place on earth.

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  9. My son will definitely have a blast at this place! He's into science, space exploration, and constellations, and I'm hoping we could visit this Space Center one of these days.

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  10. Space center looks super cool! We have one in Houston here and I still haven't been to. I want to go now!!

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  11. I live a few hours away from here and have never been. I will have to check it out because it looks really awesome.

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  12. The space center looks amazing. I will definitely add it to my list of places to visit when I'm in Orlando. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. This is such a cool place, especially for kids! I love that is hands on. Definitely want to check the space center out soon!

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  14. Oh, I love it there! The kids had a ball!

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  15. I am obsessed with NASA. I'll have to plan a trip there.

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  16. great photos. it looks really fun!

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  17. I would love to see this someday. I have family who live in Florida and they recommended this as well.

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  18. That looks so fun, I love the space center. Orlando is on always on my bucket list. 😘

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  19. looks like so much fun! NASA is wonderful I would so visit it too! lovely!

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  20. So cool! I love anything that has to do with astronomy and space! Would love to visit one day.

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  21. I look forward to visit this museum. It's very interesting the objects we manage to possess that came from other planet. They offer plenty of activities too.

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  22. Orlando is so well known for Disney that I never knew there is such an amazing Space Center complex there. It looks like a place that's worth the visit!

    www.itsasweetsweetworld.com

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  23. Wow, this place looks incredible. There’s so much to do and see there! Looks like a brilliant place to take the whole family

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  24. I have never been there but it sounds like a nice destination getaway during this Summer.

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  25. Looks like a great place to visit. I'll definitely go here one soon with my family.

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  26. This sound like such a great place to visit! It's a shame it is so far away from me.

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  27. I never realize dhow close this was to Orlando. I went on a cruise, literally right next to the Space center and I have been wanting to go every since.

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  28. I love that they let you bring a cooler. We try to only eat healthy, organic foods, so that's very convenient.

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  29. I live less than an hour away! It's such a great place to visit no matter what age. So much education.

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  30. My nephew would love to go there. He is into space and everything related to it.

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  31. When I visit Orlando, I would love to visit Kennedy Space Center, about which I have read a lot already. You surely had a fantastic outing.

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  32. This is a great place for the kids. Our boys have been asking to go for years. We'll need to plan a trip with them soon.

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  33. I've been wanting to visit this space centre for a while now. I can't wait to visit one day.

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  34. I've never been but it looks like an incredible place to visit...I'd love to see it someday.

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  35. This looks so fun and educational! If I were closer I would take my kids all the time!

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  36. Great that everything is so interactive. Good that things didn't get too squirrely too lol Be a fine place for anyone to explore.

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  37. This looks really fun! we had a chance to visit the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama and it was amazing. Would love to visit this one too!

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  38. I would have done anything as a kid to go here. I will def be taking my nephews soon. I love science

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  39. Such a fun place to visit! Hubby and I we both would love to explore this space centre 😍

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  40. Wow this looks a great place to visit. I’ll have to give this one a shot too.

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  41. I want to go so bad now! I guess I have to start planning a trip to Florida!

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  42. Wow, This place so Amazing and actually when I was a child my dream is to become an astronaut! love your photos!!

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  43. We'll be going to Orlando in 2021 (I know, it's a long way off) so I'll have to check this out. Looks like lots of fun!

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  44. I’m excited to hear all of these really great things about the Kennedy space Center. I will make a point to add it to my list of things to do next time that I am in Orlando Florida.

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  45. Wow, sch a great place to visit. It's all about science and it will good place to learn.

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  46. Are those really rocks from mars? This is cool

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  47. Rocks from Mars and you get to learn everything about Science. The geek in me is so happy!

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  48. This looks like such an awesome adventure!

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  49. What awesome timing. I'm headed there in late August and I was trying to figure out what to do there. I am a dork for science, so this is absolutely perfect. Any other suggestions?

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  50. The space center looks like such fun. Your kids looked like they had a blast.

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  51. This looks like such an incredible place to visit. I definitely would love seeing the rock from Mars. We are planning a trip to Florida next year. I will have to add this to my list of places to go.

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  52. Martian rocks! So otherworldly. How cool is that?

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  53. I have such fond (vague) memories of visiting here as a child, can't wait to take my kids soon, it has definitely changed a lot!!

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  54. That looks like such an amazing trip! My biggest one loves space and Nasa, so it's def on our bucket list!

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  55. I've never been to Orlando, but it is on my bucket list and I would definitely visit the space centre.

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  56. I remember visiting Cape Canaveral as a kid. I was so excited to be surrounded by all things space. It's a really interesting place for both kids and adults.

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  57. That looks like a really fun place to take the kids. I'd probably be thinking the same thing if I saw that squirrel too. LOL!

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  58. Wow!! My son would be ecstatic if he can visit this place one day! He's been very curious with space stuff lately. Haha

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  59. What an exciting and fun visit! I wish I am near so I can visit this place. I am sure I will learn a lot in here.

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  60. I have never been here before but have always wanted to. We used to live by the Kennedy Space Center when I was small and I can still remember how our windows would shake.

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  61. I'd love to visit this center! This looks like so much fun and you get to see and learn a lot! I love learning about NASA and space!

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  62. This is such a nice place to visit. Fun and informative at the same time.

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  63. This visit looked like so much fun! I never knew there were such a place about NASA! I might need to visit next time I come to the US

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  64. Oh wow my dream is to take the kids to the Space Centre one day - looks amazing, what an experience and so educational too

    Laura x

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  65. This is a fun, adventurous trip for kids. I went the first time when I was 10.

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  66. I would love to visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

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  67. My boys enjoyed this so much. We even got to see a launch!

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  68. That looks like such a fun and educational place to visit! My 9 and 10 year old grandsons would love to visit, and being that close to rockets and all is awesome!

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  69. So fun for everyone and educational too. Go team science

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  70. So my ex - his sister works there. Such a cool place to visit!

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  71. I have lived in FL most of my life and have never been! I would love to go there with my hubby!

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  72. I would love to viisit with my husband it looks very interesting.

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  73. We visited here before we went on a cruise. It was on my husbands bucket list. It was very informational for the family.

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