Today I ventured to the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida. The Space Center itself is huge and is nestled among a beautiful reservation inhabited with birds, gators, turtles, and even dolphins and manatees.
I was expecting more of a museum-like atmosphere, but the Center is actually spread out in different stops and locations that you travel along at your own leisure. At the main stop, there’s a 3-D Imax theater (which, admittedly, I did not check out because I get sick), a gift shop, specialty tours (which sell out early so I suggest you buy online ahead of time), and the main bus tour. Starting at the bus tour, we made our way to the second stop which was an observation tower which overlooks a beautiful river and the two launching platforms. Since the shuttle Endeavoris set to go off next week, we actually got to see the shuttle set up for departure. Here there was also a small theater which played a film highlighting the mechanical aspects of making a space shuttle (wasn’t my cup of tea, but hey, whatever floats your boat). At the third and final stop you travel through a series of theaters which play short films highlighting the first explorations into space, more specifically the first landing on the moon. One room even simulates what it’s like in the control center when a shuttle takes off. There’s an intense countdown and the floor rumbles as the shuttle lifts off. In the final room of the stop there’s a huge shuttle hanging from the ceiling. It really gives you an idea of how massive those things really are. Huge!
I had pretty high expectations driving in and I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed. The content was fine, but the place itself is very badly organized. I think I spent more time waiting in line than I did actually enjoying the exhibits. Buying the tickets alone took over an hour standing in the hot sun (again, buy online). Disney World is less of a hassle! In order to go or leave anywhere you have to stand in a huge line to get on the buses to take a ten minute ride to your next stop. Then, you have to wait in a disorganized mass of people in order to actually get into the theaters or exhibits. Normally I would have taken my time and read every little sign or placard in the exhibits, but by the end, I just wanted to get out of there before the crowd swallowed me up. I did hear that today, probably since the launch is so near, was especially crowded, and that could have been the whole problem. My feeling is that a huge tourist attraction like this needs a more effective system of organization. The faster you get people in and out, the more money you make.
Walking around in the humid heat, shoving my way through the crowd, climbing all those stairs at the observation tower… I was a complete mess when I walked out of there.
Overall, it was a good experience. I recommend that everyone traveling to the Orlando area at least check it out. There’s more to do than just Disney, you know!