A runDisney race weekend usually includes time at Walt Disney World – enjoying the parks, eating at the restaurants, and experiencing the magic. However, there are other places to explore in the Central Florida area as well!
In a recent trip to Orlando, we included a trip to the Kennedy Space Center to see what had changed since our last visit! As a self-proclaimed space geek, I couldn’t wait to spend the day immersed in one of my favorite subjects – space travel! (Seriously – I have been reading about the early space missions since I was in middle school and re-read those books at least once a year. I still have dreams of being an astronaut and walking on the moon.) Here is a glimpse into what a trip to the Kennedy Space Center includes.
*Disclosure: We were given two complimentary tickets to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as media guests. That being said, I have paid full price in the past and will in the future since I can never spend too much time taking in all things NASA!
Heroes & Legends
While I have explored the Rocket Garden many times (including as a toddler), the newest aspect of the Heroes and Legends area is the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame! After a short video, you are able to walk around the various displays. From space suits to childhood mementos, there is a lot to explore! Along with various quotes, my favorite part was a display at the end including every U.S. astronaut – from Mercury to the International Space Station.
As part of your admission, you are able to take a bus tour which will give you an insider look of the Kennedy Space Center. Our tour drove past the various launch pads for NASA (including many historic missions like Apollo), as well as partners such as SpaceX and Boeing. Part of the tour includes driving by the colossal Vehicle Assembly Building! The bus tour also includes a stop at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
Apollo/Saturn V Center
For those who are completely enthralled with the Apollo missions to the moon, this center cannot be missed! Start with a live re-enactment of the Apollo 8 Firing Room, showcasing Mission Control and what they felt at the launch. From there, you will get to see an actual Saturn V rocket, including all three stages in detail. Head toward the top of the rocket to see replicas of the Service Module, Command Module, and Lunar Module. Throughout the center are various Apollo memorabilia, including the actual hatch from the Apollo 1 fire.
Space Shuttle Atlantis
Ever want to see a space shuttle in person? Here is your chance! The Space Shuttle Atlantis is displayed at the Kennedy Space Center, with the payload doors open and arm extended. Take a look at the incredible detail, including the 20,000+ insulating tiles. There are also many interactive exhibits throughout the area, allowing a deeper look into the shuttle program. For those who are brave enough, head to the astronaut training simulators! Another area is a permanent memorial for the Challenger and Columbia astronauts who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Tours and Astronaut Encounters
If you are looking for a special experience during your visit to the Kennedy Space Center, there are plenty of additional aspects you can add on to your admission. A popular one is lunch with an astronaut, where you can ask questions and learn from a veteran astronaut firsthand! Take it one step farther and experience the Visitor Complex on a private tour with an astronaut or the Launch Director!
Additional tours are also available, usually 2-3 hours in length. These include stops at the Vehicle Assembly Building, Kennedy Space Center Headquarters, views of the launch pads, or even the Launch Control Center.
The Kennedy Space Center is about an hour drive from Walt Disney World Resort. For anyone interested in space, science, or a lifelong learner, the Visitor Complex is a great experience for all ages!