Thank you to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex for inviting my family to experience KSC for ourselves. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
At some point in time, I think every child has dreamed of being an astronaut and blasting off into space. There is something magical about the unknown, and just plain cool about being an astronaut.
For kids, and parents who once dreamed that dream, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a place childhood dreams can and do come true. Meet a real live astronaut, touch a real piece of moon rock, stand beside a real space rocket and even eat astronaut ice cream (yum!). At Kennedy Space Center, wide-eyed kids of all ages can explore, discover and dream.
I haven’t been out to KSC since I was a kid, I am guessing about 25 years ago. But I still have distinct memories of that visit (a class field trip). Memories I was eager to relive with my girls. To celebrate KCS’s newest exhibit, Angry Birds Space Encounter, we were invited to visit NASA’s playground to check it out and explore the campus.
What I expected at the KSC is what I remembered, a small center with some very large, very cool rockets and space stuff. What we discovered far exceeded any of our expectations. KSC is an expansive complex with more to see and do than could possibly be done in a single day. And there is more coming, in June KCS will open a huge new exhibit featuring the Space Shuttle Atlantis with tons of interactive features and learning centers for kids. I thought we would be there for a couple of hours, so I wore flip flops — big mistake. We were there all day, and I would have stayed longer if the kids weren’t melting down.
Angry Birds Space Encounter
The newest attraction at KSC is the Angry Birds Space Encounter. The connection between the popular game and KSC is as cute as it is obvious, but I wondered how would they bring the game to life? With a combination of uber high tech and old school fun, they did it. And they did so in tight quarters. Games powered by iPads, live-sized Angry Birds target practice, a maze of mirrors and a lazer maze make up the interactive encounter for kids of all ages.
For K it was all about the iPads, my mini techy loved each of the iPad games and became totally entranced in her games. On the other hand, I had to drag baby girl (kicking and screaming) out of the mirror maze. For me – I wanted to pretend I was a secret agent in Mission Impossible again in the lazer maze. The whole exhibit is cute themed fun. But as I mentioned, small. The whole thing can be experienced within an hour. Which is good because there is a lot more to see at KSC.
Several friends asked if it was worth going out to KSC just for the Angry Birds Encounter. Honestly, no because it doesn’t take that long to get through. But if Angry Birds is the draw to get you out to KSC, then go. Because it is so worth spending a day out there exploring everything KSC has to offer. I am ready to go back and do the things we ran out of time for!
Vehicle Assembly Building & Apollo / Saturn V Center
Now that the Shuttle program has officially been retired (sad, this FL girl never saw a launch in person), visitors to KSC can get closer than ever to the Vehicle Assembly Building. A bus tour (included in the price of admission) take visitors right by the VAB to the a 60-foot observation tower that gives you a 360 view of the launch pads, control center and more. (Breath-taking view.)
In case you aren’t down with the lingo, the VAB is where the Shuttles used to live. (Frame of reference: you could slide the Statue of Liberty through the doors to the VAB with 200 ft of clearance – BIG building ) It was the heart and soul of the NASA complex. Before the program ended, you couldn’t get close. Now there is even an up-close-and-personal tour you can take inside the VAB (for an additional charge). This space-dork is dying to go back to do that tour!
After the VAB, the tour bus drops you off at the Apollo / Saturn V Center — way cool. This building houses an actual Apollo rocket and the Apollo 14 capsule, and gives you a chance to experience a launch from the control room. The wow factor is in full effect when you walk into the room confronted by the business and of an Apollo rocket. Probably the most interesting building we toured on our day at KSC, the center includes video presentations, a cafe, a mini museum and a real piece of moon rock that you can touch.
The entire bus tour takes approximately two hours, but it is self-guided so you could easily spend a lot more the Apollo / Saturn Center.
Shuttle Launch Experience
If you are into rides (and are at least 42 inches tall), do not miss the Shuttle Launch Experience. Even the mouse doesn’t have anything on this simulation ride. I have to admit that I was mentally prepared for a dinky ride, but I was 100% wrong. The video presentation before the ride was probably the most impressive ride presentation I have ever seen, and the ride was on par with any simulation ride at neighboring theme parks. You even feel some Gs on your face! I wanted to ride again.
Space Shuttle Atlantis
Opening June 29, 2013, KSC will introduce the new $100 million home to the Space Shuttle Atlantis. I will be going back to see the lovely Shuttle in person.
Take advantage of special Angry Birds ticket pricing through June 28, 2013 and save up to 30% on a party of four. (Must buy tickets in advance to get special prices.)
Florida residents can save even more with a Florida Four Pack for just $99 through June 27, 2013.
Want to see Atlantis? Save $5 per ticket with the coupon code Atlantis.
One more thing – The first thing my husband and I both said when we talked about going out to KSC is that we have to get some astronaut ice cream. It’s just as good as I remember it. If you haven’t had it, you gotta try it!