Before you board a tour bus headed for the John F. Kennedy Space Center, why not stop in at the Visitor Complex and learn about this historical and cultural destination? The Visitor’s Complex features a variety of fun and educational activities and displays that will help your family to gain an appreciation for the history of manned space flight before embarking on a bus tour to the actual space shuttle launch pads, the Saturn V Moon Rocket, and the Apollo 8 launch experience.
The Visitor Complex is home to many fun and family oriented features. Young children will love the Children’s Play Dome, a gigantic funhouse with climbing walls, tunnels, slides and more. Learn about early space exploration, the Hubble Telescope, and robot scouts at specially crafted exhibits. If your feet are tired of walking, take a seat in the 3D IMAX theatre and catch a show. The IMAX features two films; Space Station 3D, narrated by Tom Cruise, and Hubble 3D, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Why go to Orlando to catch an exciting ride when you can jump on the Shuttle Launch Experience simulator? This adrenaline fueled ride lets you experience the excitement of the vertical launch and the feeling of being in orbit. Enjoy the invigorating sights and sounds of the space experience. Why let the astronauts have all the fun?
The Rocket Garden is not your typical backyard experience. This beautifully landscaped open area features brick walkways, wonderfully maintained green spaces, and 8 antique rockets standing vertically like large tree trunks. The rockets are lighted in the evening to create a surreal atmosphere.
You will probably never go to a science museum where they have a real live dinosaur on display or a historical museum where George Washington shows up and does a Q&A session, however, at the Kennedy Space Center, you can be sure that every day there will be a real astronaut at the Astronaut Encounter. There have been about 5,000 people that have experienced space travel. Each day one of these amazing people gives a talk and answers questions for guests of the Space Center.
The Visitor Complex contains a gift shop with over 3,000 space-themed items including delicious Space ice cream and NASA bumper stickers. However you chose to spend your time at the Visitor Complex, do not forget to have your picture taken with the resident spaceperson who you may find wandering the complex in a full spacesuit!
Although the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the experience of a lifetime, it would not be complete without a tour of the gigantic shuttle launch pads. There are several tours available; the KSC Tour and the Discover KSC: Today & Tomorrow Tour. The KSC Tour is included with the price of your admission to the Space Center and brings you up close and personal with the Saturn V Moon Rocket and the actual shuttle launch pads. The Discover KSC Tour also features these destinations but goes considerably further in depth when discussing the history of the space program, the history of the Space Center, and also the future plans for space travel and exploration.
It is an experience of a lifetime to watch a rocket or shuttle blast off atop a pillar of fire and ascend as if by magic into the sky and out of sight. Brevard County is one of the only places in the world where you can witness this awe-inspiring phenomenon. Because it has been the site of every manned space flight in the United States since 1968, the Kennedy Space Center is the location that everyone thinks about when planning a trip to view a rocket launch.
Because of how massive a rocket or shuttle is, you can see a launch anywhere within Brevard County. The Space Center does sell tickets to watch the event in designated areas, however, you may not watch the launch any closer than 4 miles from the rocket or shuttle. Many of the tickets sold are for vantage points as far away as 10 miles from the launch site. Additionally, parking in a designated and ticketed viewing area means that you will have to deal with about an hour of bumper-to-bumper traffic when trying to leave after watching the launch.
The better option, and the choice of most locals, is to watch the launch from somewhere along the Indian River. You can park your car and find a grassy spot on the river bank or you can eat dinner on the patio of half a dozen restaurants that provide a view of the launch location. Our friendly front desk agents have a printed map which we are happy to provide to our guests. We can also provide recommendations as to which viewing location is best for your needs.
By Becky Schaff