Florida’s Space Coast Fun at Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center is a fun and exciting way to explore, create, and learn as a family.
Disney and The Mouse have made a big impact in all of Florida. Even NASA with its heritage of thick-rimmed glasses and pocket protectors is now majorly amusing for the entire family.
So after experiencing a launch in Cape Canaveral, our family made our way to the world-famous Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center where our young explorers could learn more about the U.S. and international space programs.
Kennedy Space Center: Exciting and fun for the whole family.
Kennedy Space Center has been completely reinvented in recent years. What was once a marshland tour to the VAB is now marked with 3-D IMAX experiences, rides, space-themed foods, playgrounds, and more.
After watching a SpaceX launch from Launch Pad 40 in Cape Canaveral, our kids were ready for a fun day of space exploration and learning.
However, this mom, a usually over-prepared, over-researcher was not quite prepared for the overwhelming amount of fun attractions for all ages.
Kennedy Space Center boasts more than 28 attractions in 5 different areas where the entire family will find something to pique their interest.
All in all, our family found Kennedy Space Center fun, exciting, educational, and a must visit!
If you are planning your Kennedy Space Center visit, here are our top 10 tips and a recommended itinerary for a 1 day trek into the world’s space adventure.
TOP TEN TIPS FOR VISITING KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
1. Spread your trip to KSC into 2-3 days:
Allocate more than one day. Kennedy Space Center has so much to offer for the whole family that you simply can’t make it through all of the awesome attractions in one day.
Therefore, I recommend splitting your visit into at least 2 days allowing you to try different versions of Starport, completing more of the interactive experiences, and watching all of the different IMAX shows.
Stretching your 1 day ticket into 2 days doesn’t double the price. Instead, it costs mere dollars more.
KSC BUDGET TIP: However, if you are traveling with a large family, an annual pass might actually be more cost effective than purchasing 2 days of passes. For example, a family of 6 planning to visit KSC over 2 days can actually save almost $62.00 by purchasing an annual pass rather than 6 2 day passes. Not to mention annual pass holders get free parking, discounts, and free drinks.
2. Buy Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center tickets in advance.
Buy tickets in advance. Tickets are available online in advance. Easy to download on your phone, buying your tickets in advance allows you to move quickly into the Visitor’s Center without having to wait in line at those pesky ticket booths.
Purchase your tickets with multiple or only one-day admission. The more days you purchase, the cheaper the admission cost.
Having purchased your tickets in advance, you can beat many of the crowds that are working to get to Kennedy’s newest attraction: Gateway and KSC Starport.
3. Skip the selfie and proceed directly to Starport.
Go past the selfie station and proceed immediately to Gateway and KSC Starport.
You made it past the ticket counter, but then you see the giant NASA globe just begging you to take a selfie. Move away from the selfie line and come back later after the hoards are gone! The real smarties are headed straight to Spaceport KSC.
Instead, make your first visit Gateway, past the Rocket Garden and Heroes and Legends. Proceed directly to the Starport kiosk (or the queue to the Starport kiosk) and select a return queue time for the earliest available time.
The line just to get a queue return time fills up quickly, and if you go early, you can leave yourself plenty of time to experience multiple Starport adventures.
Gateway is a choose-your-own adventure ride featuring an adventure through space learning about nebulas, planets, or several other options. It was great fun for our whole family, even our three-year-old enjoyed it!
However, there are several other ride options, and you might want to try a few! Go there first since this is the newest exhibit at KSC, and the lines fill quickly!
Be aware, Starport riders do have to be 39 inches tall, so it is not suitable for all ages or family members.
4. Take a bus tour early.
Take the bus tour as one of your first activities after Starport. One of the highlights of any visit to KSC is the narrated Kennedy Space Center bus tour, a tour past the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building), crawlers, and learning about all of the Apollo missions.
The bus stops at the Apollo and Saturn V building where you are greeting with informational videos, a replica of the Apollo launch room, and even entire rockets. For my children, learning about the apollo program, and more specifically the crew members, was the most impressive and intellectual part of their day.
Lines for the bus tour get longer and longer throughout the day and end 2.5 hours before park closing. Give yourself at least 2 hours to experience the bus tour, the attractions, and maybe even the café overlooking Cape Canaveral! Hence, head for the bus tour early to make sure you don’t miss it.
5. Bring snacks!
KSC has tons of great food options, but I was not prepared for the long lines for food or the length of some of the attractions. Stash a few protein bars or fruit in your day bag along with a water bottle to keep you and your kids happy.
While the Orlando theme parks might be brimming with restaurants, kiosks, themed food, and food carts, KSC food is not quite so prolific. Therefore, if you don’t want to spend precious KSC hours in line for a mediocre pretzel or hamburger, bring your own food!
6. Check for age-appropriate show times.
Some Kennedy Space Center shows and presentations are more appropriate for children than others.
Take a moment to check with a customer service agent for recommendations on which shows are geared toward kids or adults. The list of shows and performances throughout the day at KSC is simply overwhelming. Don’t try to see them all in one day.
Instead, ask for assistance with determining which shows are geared toward the ages of your kids instead of adults.
Our kids loved the attractions that were custom tailored to our children’s ages. A kind customer service rep circled which shows were best for our ages of children on our guide, and our kids were so glad they did!
One of our kids’ favorite memories from KSC was participating in the kids science show!
7. Be prepared for walking and standing at KSC.
Wear good walking and standing shoes. I’m no stranger to walking around a theme park all day in the hot Florida sun, but I was not prepared for the amount of standing.
Not only do you spend lots of time queuing in long lines, many of the attractions are also standing only. Be prepared to watch movies, presentations, and historical reenactments while standing.
Most of the shows were standing room only, and most of the interactive learning kiosks were also standing, not sitting or walking.
Thus, be sure that you are prepared with shoes that are good for walking and standing!
8. Planet Play is for adults and kids!
One of the best ways to spend the late afternoon in KSC is at Planet Play. Make time for play in Planet Play for both you and your kids.
After you have been walking and standing all over the park, you need a break, and your children are tired of listening to other people talk. Make your way over to Planet Play where they can play, and you can chill.
Planet Play is an enormous, indoor, multilevel, space-themed playground where your kids can run wild! Though it might not be appropriate for all older kids, Planet Play is a great break for everyone.
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Plus, KSC didn’t skip on the learning in Planet Play. Your children will accidentally learn about solar flares, gravity, engineering, and more. I loved seeing how my children applied some of what they had learned!
Best of all, Planet Play has a bar and cafe! Serving coffee, wine, or beer next to a long lounge of seats and couches, parents can enjoy a break and a drink while watching their kids.
Again, Planet Play can have a long line of melting-down children, so plan your visit accordingly! Don’t wait too long before taking a shaded and temperature-controlled break at Planet Play with kids.
9. Arrive at Kennedy Space Center early.
If you want to see the best of KSC without long lines, plan to be at KSC as soon as it opens.
You can make it to most attractions in a matter of minutes from the entry. However, the most popular attractions get busier and busier throughout the day.
Therefore, if you can get Starport and the bus tour done early, you can spend the rest of the day visiting the shows and exhibits that are less busy while others stand in long lines.
10. Pack light.
Kennedy Space Center while large, is not sprawling. It takes mere minutes to walk from one end of the park to the parking lot. I took 3 kids to the park with only a small purse.
While a stroller would be handy for toddlers and babies, most strollers have to be left outside of the exhibits. Understandably, NASA doesn’t want strollers knocking into priceless history and science. So, a carrier would be easier with babies or toddlers.
Food, facilities, air conditioning, benches, and refreshments were always in easy reach. And the prices were far more reasonable than other central Florida theme parks! So, if you forget something, you can easily find a replacement at the gift shop, a kiosk, or other vending throughout the park.
Consider just bringing the absolute essentials: water bottle, sunscreen, a few small snacks, money, id, and personal items. You aren’t riding water rides, spending hours queueing in the sun, or staying to watch late-night fireworks. Don’t pack the kitchen sink and make you and your fellow visitors miserable with your giant backpack!
Suggested itinerary for 1 day with kids at Kennedy Space Center:
Want to know how to plan your 1 day at KSC? If you can’t spend more than 1 day at KSC, then you want to be sure that you see the best that NASA has to offer in Cape Canaveral.
If you can only spare 1 day for KSC, our family would recommend that you hit these high points that can be completed in one busy day in this order:
- Gateway: Deep Space Launch Complex
- Bus Tour and Apollo Space Shuttle Program History
- Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit (see the actual space shuttle Atlantis)
- Lunch (bring your own to skip the lines)
- Planet Play
- IMAX Lego
- Kid’s Show and Science Experiments or meet a real astronaut (check the daily schedule)
- Mars Rover
- Heroes and Legends if time
- Don’t skip the souvenir shop!
Kennedy Space Center is exciting fun for the entire family.
Our family had a great day at KSC and can’t wait to go again. My boys loved the rockets, my daughter danced along the solar system, and we all found a favorite attraction.
Spending a day or 2 at KSC will be a highlight for your family!