We recently had the opportunity to visit Kennedy Space Center. We had been wanting to go for quite some time. That desire became more urgent after completing cycle 3 of Classical Conversations and first semester of Challenge B–both of which have a focus on astronauts and astronomers. But our last few trips to Florida had been by plane, and without a car, we had to stay on Disney property and use Disney transportation. This Thanksgiving, we drove down to Florida and with a car, we finally were able to head over to the Space Coast.
It was worth the wait!
We had such a great time at Kennedy Space Center. And what I really found impressive was that we ALL had a great time. The adults, the teen, the pre-teen, and the five year old. The entire place is so well thought out to have options available for absolutely everyone to enjoy each area together. We visit a lot of museums. It’s an important part of our family time. But no other museum has come close to what Kennedy Space Center offers. It is organized, has great crowd control, and plenty of fun mixed in. We learned a few things along the way and I’m passing my tips and tricks on to you to make your visit as smooth as possible
- Look for coupons. Sometimes there are coupons on their website. For example, when we visited, there was a coupon for fifth graders to get in free. And for home schoolers, it was all children born in 2007 and 2008–so my middle child got in free. That was a savings of $50, so it’s definitely worthwhile to check in on their special offers page now and then as your trip approaches.
2. Bring your own food if you’d like. Soft sided coolers are allowed, so you can bring your own bottled water and snacks. This is especially good news if you have a kid with food allergies or a picky eater. It’s also good news because you can save some money this way! We ended up eating lunch at Little Caesar’s. It was fine because it’s familiar and I knew the kids would eat it. But seriously, we paid something like $7 each for personal pan pizzas that were half the size that a personal pan is at an actual Little Caesar’s–and there you pay $5 including a drink! So it wasn’t super cheap but at least the kids would eat it. We did bring our own snacks and bottled water to save money, though.
3. Plan your day, beginning with an understanding of what is and is not included in your admission. A general admission ticket includes all the museum exhibits and a bus tour of the grounds and entry to the Saturn V building (part of the bus tour). But there are special tours and meals available as add-ons to your base ticket. My advice is to just do a regular ticket on your fist visit. There is more to see than you can possibly see in a day without adding extras on to your day. We were there from open until close and felt like we barely scratched the surface.
4. Take the bus tour first. As soon as you enter KSC, head to the line for the buses. If you do the bus tour first, you will end up ahead of the crowds at the Saturn V center and then when you return to the main area, you will have the rest of the day to walk around without waiting on a bus. Note: they will stop you to take a family picture before you get on the bus. More on that later.
5. Dedicate 1.5-2 hours to the Saturn V building. There is so much to see in there. There is a place to grab a snack or lunch if you get hungry, so there’s no real rush to leave. We were able to touch a moon rock, dress up like astronauts, and see two shows. Don’t rush back to the bus–take time to see all this building has to offer.
6. Enjoy the Atlantis building. When your bus tour is over, your next stop will be the Atlantis building. The entire building is incredible. There is a fabulous introductory show about Atlantis, plus an exhibit where you can be up close and personal with Atlantis. Seeing it so close is really a moving experience. I am not a big space nerd or anything but I felt very emotional getting to be so close to the shuttle that traveled back and forth to space successfully so many times. Incredible. The Atlantis building also has the Shuttle Launch Experience, which is a ride that rivals Star Tours at Disney. You can’t have ANY loose items on this ride but you are able to rent a locker for free. We even had to take our little guy’s heart monitor off, but it was just for a few minutes and we were able to lock it securely in a locker, so we were comfortable with doing so. The Atlantis Building also has a play area for kids and a GIANT slide. The kids could’ve just played on the slide all day and been happy!
7. Don’t wear green. Friends, hear these words. Do. Not. Wear. Green. If you want a lovely family photo to remember your time at Kennedy Space Center, don’t wear green. But if you are up for a most hilarious memento of your day, well, wear what you what.
8. Buy the photo package. We were extremely pleased with it. It was far better than what we got from Legoland and we made tons of Christmas gifts for family members from the photos. We did the digital package, which gave us a code to enter on an app and all our pictures were available. I could even download them directly to my phone to share on social media. Particularly if you spend time doing the green screen photos in the Saturn V building, you will want the photo package. Those pictures are included plus you get any other pictures you took all day.
9. Plan to spend two days. My list is incomplete for all of you because we did NOT plan to spend two days and therefore we missed so many of the available shows, exhibits, and features. I intended to have ten tips for you but there are only eight. Why? Because we ran out of time and I did not actually see all the things I wanted to write about! Learn from my mistake, and spend two days. Legoland we did in a day and it was fine. Kennedy Space Center, not so much. And we didn’t even do any of the add-ons!