Kennedy Space Center: Get to know the NASA station in Florida

So, do you know where NASA is? When planning a trip to Orlando it is very common to include the Disney and Universal parks in the itinerary, but forget about an incredible attraction: the Kennedy Space Center, NASA's space center.

This is the ideal destination for those who want to have a fun and pleasant trip with family or friends, but before you face the air bridge we know that you need to know a little more about it, right?

Now that we have planted the seed of curiosity about this destination, we will demystify the NASA park for you! Come and read our travel guide for this not-so-usual, but equally incredible Orlando trip!

rocket at the Kennedy Space Center

Where is the Kennedy Space Center?

The centre of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), the United States space agency responsible for research and development of technologies and space exploration programme is located in a complex near Cape Canaveral, more specifically on Merritt Island, about 80 km from Orlando, Florida.

Although it is not exactly in Orlando, the tourist spot is visited by tourists who are usually staying in the city.

Is the NASA park really a park?

Actually, no. Commonly many people use this expression to define the Kennedy Space Center, but originally and officially it is not considered so.

It is a US space agency rocket launch centre that also has educational attractions about space and mankind's advances and discoveries in this field over the years - these being the ones you will visit.

How much time do I set aside to visit NASA?

The NASA space centre itself is gigantic, but the area open to visitors is more restricted precisely because of the work carried out there by thousands of people every day.

That said, you have two options:

  • Book 1 day and see the main attractions at the Kennedy Space Center, or;
  • set aside 2 days to see everything and take part in the activities - which take time - at the KSC.

What we can highlight is that this is a very cool alternative tour for rainy days in Orlando, since most of its attractions are indoors. Open our article about Orlando's weather during the four seasons and travel prepared!

The ideal thing is to plan well in any of the hypotheses, and Happy Tours will help you with that, but first, how about knowing how to get to your destination?

How do I get to the Kennedy Space Center?

There are several alternatives to get to Merritt Island where KSC is, and these are some of them:

1. Driving to NASA park

KSC is about 90 km away from the city centre, so if you choose to rent a car in Orlando and drive there it will take an average of 1 hour to reach the site via eastbound SR 528.

We recommend that you bring some change and coins, as you will pass through 4 toll stations on the way there and back, ok?

2. For those not travelling by car

If you do not intend to rent a vehicle to go to NASA, you are left with two options:

  • go by taxi or uber: which, frankly, will be expensive;
  • hiring a transportation company (or transfer from the KSC): it's cheaper (sometimes), but usually tour companies have a time to go and return, and the charge is made for occupied places in the van or private bus. That is, it can also be expensive depending on the size of the family or group that intends to make the visit;
  • buy entrance tickets to the KSC with transfer from the site itself: this is also a possibility, but again it is charged per person.

There is a reason why we have only given these options: there is no public transport between Orlando and Cape Canaveral, where the Kennedy Space Center is located.

What is good to know about Kennedy Space Center?

Kennedy Space Center logo

Finally it's time for our NASA travel itinerary. We have the following inaugural information for you:

  • Unlike other parks in Orlando, NASA park is not divided into regions (the lands) and neither has a priority order of visitation for each attraction, so our tip is that your itinerary planning should focus on the times of films and presentations that you will attend;
  • you can buy the tickets for the space centre at the ticket office, or in advance on the Kennedy Space Center website - early purchase on the website can get discounts!
  • for those who make the wise decision to drive, be aware that the NASA park parking costs, on average, US$ 10 per vehicle (much cheaper, isn't it?)

Tour inside the Kennedy Space Center

There are unmissable attractions and others that, in case you opt for only one day of touring, it is viable to "skip". Let's go to them in the order of entry into the space centre:

Early Space Exploration - museum 1

This pavilion definitely needs to be on your visitation itinerary! It is located right next to the park entrance and in it you will be onbording (an introduction) to the history of space exploration.

We can say that it is a museum of space science and it is incredible! Everything they show in films about space, you will find there!

Rocket Garden

The Rocket Garden is one of the few open-air attractions and a perfect place to take pictures and selfies with the rockets - faithful replicas of the real ones - on display.

This place is also near the entrance and if you prefer you can reverse the order with the first one, but it will be much more interesting to see the greatness of the rockets after understanding more about them in the museum.

IMAX Theaters - the intergalactic cinema

You may have already visited an IMAX here in Brazil or in the United States, but the differential of this one is exactly the content to be watched and the sensations of being there, in the middle of the space centre, watching films about space.

Normally two films stay on show and they can be changed from time to time, but since 2019 the film "Apollo 11: Firts Steps Edition" has been showing in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Programme.

This experience is not to be missed, whatever film is being shown. It is no wonder that this attraction may be one of the only ones that can make you queue up.

Atlantis: Space Shttle - interactive museum 2

NASA is history, so there will be no shortage of museums at its space centre. However, this one is more interactive than the first.

Atlantis begins with a film about space shuttles and, after many impactful surprises, the tourists come across a huge shed with the space shuttle Atlantis itself.

There are more than 60 interactive mini attractions in this space and if you want to feel like you're in a space station, this is the place.

Shuttle Launch Experience - Space Shuttle Launch Simulator

You're wrong if you think there's no adventure at NASA Park. This simulator promises to give you the real sensation of being in a space shuttle launch, and they say it's quite faithful to reality, see?

So much so that it is not recommended for very sensitive people, children or the elderly. The minimum height for this attraction is 1.11m. Again, watch out for the not so long queues.

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tours: Apollo/Saturn V Center

This tour is recommended as the last of a single day or the first on day 2 as it is quite long!

You will board a bus (normal, not space this time) from the KSC itself that will take you through the park to another NASA building from where Apollo 11 - the rocket that took man to the moon in 1969 - was launched.

There you can visit several attractions and also pass by other NASA buildings and even touch an authentic Moon rock!

In total, the tour lasts at least 1h30, but can go up to 3h depending on your wishes. But be warned: the last bus to the tour leaves at 2pm!

As an extra tip, we still have 4 places to visit - if you have time:

  • Astronaut Encounter: ever thought of meeting a real astronaut, a NASA veteran? This is the place! It lasts an average of 1 hour and everything is done in English;
  • Heroes and Legends: this attraction is a 3D movie about NASA stories told by its pioneers, and also concentrates the Hall of Fame at the exit, with several pictures of astronauts who made history;
  • Journey To Mars - Explorers Wanted: it is an interactive museum more suitable for children with mini games and scenarios for photos;
  • Astronaut Memorial: this museum is outside the park, still on the mainland, right at the entrance of Merritt Island and is, in fact, a memorial to those who died on space agency missions.

One last piece of essential information: the food options at the Kennedy Space Center are few, but the most recommended are the Orbit Cafe and the Moon Rock Café. And don't worry, there's a great place to buy souvenirs!

We say this is a really fun outing for the family, what do you think about visiting the moon world on your trip to the United States?

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