Thursday, June 2, 2016

Kennedy Space Center - Titusville, FL

As Canadians we were duty bound to check out the Canadarm. 
First off, as a Canadian I want you to know that it pains me to spell it center and not centre so know that I am grimacing every time I type the word.  Moving on!  Kennedy Space Center is huge.  We didn't have time to do it all in one day, especially since they are only open until 6:00. We didn't do the bus tour or the Astronaut Encounter (since we were doing the lunch with an astronaut option).  I hesitate to categorize Kennedy Space Center as educational because that makes it sound like it isn't fun.  It is fun.  My kids loved it and so did I.  In fact I would say that of all the things we did in Florida it was the one that had the best balance of things for kids and adults.
Sam Gemar who went to space 3 times!
When you have a daughter who wants to be an astronaut Kennedy Space Center is pretty much a must see/do.  So of course a trip there was on the itinerary, especially when she heard that they offered lunch with an astronaut.  The lunch with the astronaut was my favourite thing we did in Florida and was also enjoyed by all of the kids in my group.
Space toilets are pretty interesting.
You don't sit down at a table and eat your lunch with an astronaut though in case that is what you are imagining (I was!) Instead, you enter a big dining room and help yourself to the buffet and enjoy your lunch (which was way better than any lunch I have had at an amusement park type place).  Then the astronaut comes out and talks for a while and answers questions.  He will also pose for pictures with your group when the talk is over. My nephew was pleased that his question about going to the bathroom in space was answered so thoroughly!  I recommend getting over to the lunch area a bit before your reservation time. Especially if you are a big group.  You will want to be sure to find a table that will seat all of you together.
I swear I didn't colour coordinate my one child with the space shuttle.   
When you enter Kennedy Space Center the first thing that will catch your eye is the Rocket Garden where kids (and adults) can check out rockets up close.  There are a few you can go inside and it is a great place to take some pictures.  It is open whenever the park is open and unlike a lot of attractions and activities at the Center which are timed, you can spend as little or as much time as you want here so you can always check it out at the beginning and then again later if you have kids who want to spend more time there.
This is not what they mean when they say "Astronaut Encounter"
My kids loved the launch simulator which is inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.  You can't miss the Space Shuttle since it is, well, a giant space shuttle.  The Atlantis exhibit also houses all kinds of things to look at and do including cockpits to check out and the insides of various rockets.  So you can spend a fair amount of time here.  It is all indoors which is good if it is raining or blazing hot.  
A 10 year old at the helm.  What could possibly go wrong?
My kids also liked the IMAX movie which was included in the price of admission.  Again, a nice way to take a break from all the walking and the heat and/or rain.  Again, I would recommend getting there a bit early if you want good seats.  We were pretty close to the front and it was fine so I wouldn't worry too much.  
Private Ham who was a favourite of my youngest daughter.  
Things to keep in mind:
  • Kennedy Space Center isn't cheap.  For the general admission and the lunch with an astronaut option it was $80 and adult and about $55 for a kid.  I haven't seen any coupons or anything for it either but it is a one a of a kind experience and was well worth the money for me.  Especially the lunch.  If you buy lunch at the concession stand you will probably spend half that anyway and the food was really good at the lunch and you get to meet an astronaut!  
  • They do still launch rockets from Kennedy Space Center.  You can find launch dates and information about which astronaut will be in the Astronaut Encounter area on their website.
  • The gift shops are great!  If you have a space mad kid you will be able to do all your Christmas and birthday shopping there.  They have everything.  
  • Parking is $10
  • They are open 9:00 - 6:00 every day.
  • It takes about an hour to get to Kennedy Space Center from Orlando.  There is less traffic going that way than going to Tampa.
  • There are some great beaches near the Center.  

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