Blast to the Past – & Future
Next time you plan to visit Disney World – throw in some extra time for a visit to the Kennedy Space Center. Your kids will thank you and you will enjoy this slice of significant American history. Everyone will be fascinated by learning what is next in space exploration.
There are a variety of tours available. A brief bus tour comes with admission, but the longer guided tour of historic launch sites and facilities is very interesting to anyone who grew up when the Space Race was at its peak. You see the historic launch pads spread out like a jeweled necklace along the Atlantic beaches and learn where the new private space companies like Space X, Blue Origin, and Boeing are planning launches.
We did the Explore Tour for about 2.5 hours, a longer Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour last 3-3.5 hours and requires early arrival for security clearance.
There are plenty of dining spots on-site and quite a few special presentations, such as Journey to Space 3D in the IMAX theater or Journey to Mars. In fact, there are too many to see them all in one day and you will need to be selective.
Buying tickets online in advance will save precious time when you arrive. Be sure to stop immediately at the information desk and get a copy of the daily schedule with all show and movie times as well as when there is an opportunity to meet an astronaut. Be sure to chat for a minute with the staff, because I promise they will give you some enhanced information about how to get the most out of your experience given the amount of time you have. There are audio-guides available for $9 at the same info desk.
For kids, there is a Space Camp, Overnight Adventures and Astronaut Training Experience program and even lunch with an astronaut. You can also find out the upcoming launch schedule and book a VIP ticket to be as close as safely possible to witness a launch. If you plan to visit for a launch, be prepared for the possibility that it might be delayed and rescheduled depending on weather conditions.
If time is an issue, skip the launch “ride” – it’s a short simulation of sorts but I don’t think worth a wait. Your possessions must all be secured in nearby lockers and usually, there are long lines. We were lucky, timed it right and pretty much walked right on. It was disappointing.
If you go: The Center has a new entrance, which might confuse some car GPS systems. Once in the complex bus tours drop you off at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. A handy free app can be downloaded on your smartphone and is very useful for daily info, maps, and details. A good spot for lunch or dinner is the waterside Fishlips Bar & Grill, 610 Glen Cheek Drive in Port Canaveral.