I was more of a Dinosaurs fanatic than an astronaut buff, so it was hardly surprising that I wasn't aware that the Kennedy Space Centre was in Florida. No, let's be honest. I wasn't even aware of the Kennedy Space Centre. So when my space loving, astronaut crazy friend stated that we ARE going to see it, I just nodded my head to appease her. However, I must say it was definitely worth the visit and I found myself enjoying gazing at rockets, space shuttles and moon rocks.
Florida is generally known for the tropical climate, beaches, alligators and Disney, thus standing in front of a life size replica of a space shuttle stack, taking pictures with a suited up astronaut, about to enter the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral was not where I expected to be on my Florida adventure.
Our visit started with an introduction film and then a live encounter with the actual Atlantis Space Shuttle, positioned as if it had been just undocked from the Space Station (rotated 43.21 degrees), surrounded by a myriad of interactive exhibits telling its story. The giant slide simulating the shuttle's landing and the replica of the space station interior through which we were able to crawl, were two of my favourites.
Another exciting attraction is the Shuttle Launch Experience. This 3D (4D?) simulation ride includes an all-encompassing experience into being hurtled out to Space. The ride will rotate your seats to the exact angles that the shuttle would be at different stages of the launching procedure and ends with a small glimpse as to how our blue planet will look from outer space.
After the shuttle experience we headed out to the busses that take you out to the Apollo /Saturn V Centre. The bus ride gives you a great guided tour about various highlights on site as well as the wildlife. Seeing a Bald Eagles' nest while listening to details on NASA programmes was as American as my little holiday got. You'll get to see several launching pads and of course the Vehicle Assembly building, which stands at an impressive 160m tall, the largest single story building in the world.
My most exciting moment at the Apollo/Saturn V Centre was touching a moon rock (yes, this area is dedicated to the moon expeditions). You can also marvel at the 363 foot Saturn V, the largest rocket ever built. Standing underneath it made me feel even tinier than I usually am. You can also listen to a documentary and have look at astronaut suits worn by space superstars such as Neil Armstrong.
We caught the bus back to the main visitor centre area just in time for the Astronaut Encounter, which gives you a chance to listen to a real life astronaut speak about their experience. You can even ask them questions and take a picture with them afterwards.
After a quick walk around the Angry Birds Space Encounter, an out of this world indoor arcade that the children will love, we ended our visit with a stroll in the rocket garden. We missed out on watching the IMAX theatre presentations, but if you have more time be sure to visit this. There are also great gift shops and cafes for when you get hungry. And for those hard core space fans it might be worthwhile to check out these tour options that will give you a closer look at some of the areas.
So if you are ever in Florida and want a break from the lovable Mickey Mouse, I definitely recommend a visit to Kennedy Space Centre as there is something quite moving about the whole experience as well as educational.
When:Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open year round. Park opens at 9 am and closing time varies per season. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex 9 am – 5 pm The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® Noon – 5 pm