Last week Mommy Frog and I packed up the kids and headed to Cape Canaveral for a fun day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Here’s how it went…
We arrived at 8:45 a.m. so we could start our day as soon as the place opened at 9 a.m. (I’m so glad we already had our tickets because those ticket lines were LONG!)
As soon as we entered we headed straight for the Rocket Garden where we felt extremely small standing right next to the actual Redstone, Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space. Tad and Lily could have spent hours pretending like they were astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules. (The only disappointment came when Lily realized the capsules were not going to send her on a quick trip around the moon!)
From there, we went on the guided bus tour that departs every 15 minutes from the Visitor Complex. The 2-hour tour makes two stops along the way: Launch Complex 39 Observation Gantry where we got a 360˚ view of the launch pads, the crawlerway and the Vehicle Assembly Building; and the Apollo/Saturn V Center where we walked around and underneath a real Saturn V rocket. That thing is 363 feet long and is definitely a sight to behold!
We’ll chalk this one up to a lesson learned. We should have eaten at the Moon Rock Café when we were at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, but instead we waited until we got back to the Visitor Complex. The line at the Orbit Café, the only indoor restaurant at the Visitor Complex, was a mile long. The kids were way too hungry to wait that long, so we were stuck with hot dogs and waffle fries at the G-Force Grill.
After lunch, we headed next door to Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted. Tad and Lily loved the interactive exhibits like the Lunar Landing Simulator and Orbital Docking Simulator. There’s a live presentation every half hour, so we stuck around for that and enjoyed 10 more minutes in the air-conditioning.
At this point we split up for a bit. Mommy Frog took the kids to the full-scale model of the Shuttle Explorer where they walked up the three-story platform for a peek inside of the payload bay. Tad had his heart set on the Shuttle Launch Experience, which he bravely went on by himself while my wife and Lily watched from the Observation Deck. “Dude, it totally rocked!” was his response when I asked if he like it.
In the meantime, I caught the 2 p.m. Astronaut Encounter presentation. Sitting back in a comfortable air-conditioned theater, I lived vicariously through Astronaut Charlie Walker as he outlined his three missions to space (great pictures, by the way). The 20 minutes flew by!
Other highlights of the afternoon were the Star Trek exhibit where we saw actual costumes worn in the series and Robot Scouts which was a quick and entertaining way to wrap our day.
Astronaut Hall of Fame
Six miles down the road from the Visitor Complex was one our favorite parts of the whole day. The Astronaut Hall of Fame has the world’s largest collection of personal memorabilia from the daily journals written in space to Wally Schirra’s Sigma 7 Mercury spacecraft. There was so much to look at and so many interactive exhibits, before we knew it the place was closing!
We’re definitely going back since we didn’t have time to do everything. There are several IMAX films including “Hubble 3D” and “Space Station 3D” we didn’t see and what everyone is waiting for…the Shuttle Atlantis! It’s scheduled to make the Visitor Complex its permanent home by the summer of 2013.