Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Orlando Vacation Tips - Kennedy Space Center

If you're taking an Orlando vacation and you're looking for something a little different than the next Disney World ride or the joys of viewing Sea World's underwater life, I can strongly recommend a trip to the Kennedy Space Center, out at Florida's Atlantic coast on Merritt Island. I'm not a great technology or space or science fiction lover and I mostly want relaxation when I'm on my vacations, but I found the experience of seeing the history and bravery of the space pioneers a marvelous and moving visit.

From the Disney area the quickest route is usually along the 528 Beach Line toll road and, subject to rush hour traffic, the journey takes just about an hour or a little longer. When you arrive and park your car there is an entrance that's similar to the Orlando theme park entrances and the current ticket price is $38 each. You'll be given a printed brochure showing the main exhibits and some of the best ones for me were:

1. The Rocket Garden: This is where you can see the early parts of the space program including Atlas and Titan rockets that first put NASA astronauts in space. You can marvel at the bravery of the people who sat on top of what look like very insubstantial machines and allowed themselves to be blasted into the air. It's light years away from Star Trek and the Enterprise!

2. The Apollo / Saturn V Center: I can't express it any better than the official site does - "a tribute to the Apollo astronauts and the machines that got them there – and brought them home safely." This place tells the story of putting a man on the Moon and the highlight of the presentation in the giant building is a life-sized version of the enormous Saturn V rocket. You have to see it for yourself - it is really impossible to adequately describe.

3. Bus Tour Of The Facility: Take a two to three hour ride around the Space Center in an air-conditioned bus while the driver points out the key features - including wild life in the natural reserve such as birds or alligators (if they're being co-operative!). The highlight for me was the Vehicle Assembly Building, used to prepare each Space Shuttle for flight and allegedly the second largest building in the world. You should be able to see the "crawler", the transport that moves at one mile an hour to take the Shuttle to the launch pad.

4. Space Shuttle Replica: As with the Rocket Garden, this full-sized replica brings it home to you exactly how small the machine really is and how brave are the astronauts who venture out in it.

There are many more things so see and do there including two IMAX theaters, a "Shuttle Launch Experience" attraction and a Children's Play Dome. You should set aside a whole day and a lot of energy to make sure you see it all. Unless space travel sends you to sleep with boredom, I'm sure you will find a tremendous amount to impress you - and even the technophobes in your party should be impressed!

For more information on accommodation in the Disney World area, click on these Orlando holiday villas or Florida short term rentals links.


Anonymous said...

I second your recommendation. The Kennedy Space Center is definitely worth a visit if you are taking an Orlando vacation. I was stunned by the displays there and I consider myself a technophobe.

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