The Kennedy Center Visitor Complex lies just 50 minutes from downtown Orlando. It serves as the visitor center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It features exhibits and displays, historic spacecraft and memorabilia, shows, IMAX theaters, and a range of bus tours of the spaceport.
Each year, more than 1.5 million guests from around the world experience their very own space adventure by exploring the exciting past, present and future of America’s space program at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Built in 1967, today the Visitor Complex is one of Central Florida’s most popular tourist destinations.
Since 1995, when Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, Inc. began managing the visitor complex, every aspect of this 70-acre facility has been entirely redeveloped and enhanced. From the Astronaut Training Experience, astronaut encounters to larger-than-life IMAX films, live shows, hands-on activities and behind-the-scenes tours, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers guests an educational, entertaining and comprehensive space program experience.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located just east of Orlando on State Road 405, six miles inside the Kennedy Space Center entrance. From Orlando, take State Road 528 east and follow the signs to Kennedy Space Center. From Interstate 95, take exit 212 northbound or exit 215 southbound. From Merritt Island or Cocoa Beach, take State Road 3.
Telephone: 877-313-2610 or www.KennedySpaceCenter.com
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open year-round, seven days per week. The Visitor Complex opens at 9 am and closing time varies per season.
Admission is $57 + tax for adults and $47 + tax for children ages 3-11. Includes the KSC Tour, Space Shuttle Atlantis, Apollo/Saturn V Center, Shuttle Launch Experience, Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted, IMAX space films, Astronaut Encounter, and all attractions and exhibits. For group reservations for 15 or more, call 877-313-2610.
The eastern shores of Central Florida are known as the Space Coast. Operating as the home for Kennedy Space Center which serves as NASA’s primary launch facility for human spaceflight and The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex which is part exhibition facility and part living museum recording our endeavors to break the bonds of earth and reach the stars. As the sun rises off the east coast of Florida, we will explore the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on this episode of The Orlando Guy.
From downtown Orlando, The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is only 55 minutes East using the 528 Beachline Expressway and located on Merritt Island.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is organized into Mission Zones grouped by chronological era. From early space exploration to the present day, the story of humans in space is revealed.
We will begin our exploration in the Rocket Garden. Located just inside the front entrance, is an outdoor display of historic rockets that put Americans and satellites in space. You can walk up to and around the base of the rockets which include a Mercury-Redstone, Mercury-Atlas and Titan II rockets which launched both astronauts and satellites from nearby Cape Canaveral.
The garden also features mock-ups of capsules from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs that visitors can enter. Rocket Garden tours are offered several times a day which provide fun facts and insights into our early attempts to go beyond the heavens above us.
Next, we will tour Heroes and Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. This exhibit celebrates the pioneers of NASA’s early space programs which inspired a nation to reach for the stars. Within the attraction you will learn about the thrills and dangers of America’s earliest space missions. Actual artifacts from these missions will help you relive the dawn of the space age and learn the common characteristics of an astronaut – among them, inspired, passionate, curious and tenacious – some of the nine identified traits.
The exhibit then leads you to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame – a place where American astronauts are remembered and honored from the Mercury 7 until today – including John Young who participated in both the Gemini and Apollo programs and fl ew the very first space shuttle mission in 1981. A graduate of Orlando High School, a major parkway in Orlando is named in John Young’s honor.
Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is an attraction with a focus on Mars exploration. The attraction, which employs large-scale video projections, dimensional exhibits and interactive experiences immerses you in the unsolved challenges of future space exploration. The exhibit includes orbital docketing and lunar landing simulators, a full-sized development model of a crew vehicle, models of space exploration vehicles, and the Mars rover family.
If you really want an immersive experience at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, sign up for the separate program called the Astronaut Training Experience. This 5-hour program will train you to be a part of the next generation of space explorers that prepare for human’s deep space travel. The Astronaut Training Experience will bring you as close to training, living and working on the Red Planet as possible without ever leaving Earth.
You will practice your docking skills, navigate the unique Mars terrain and experience the sensation of performing a spacewalk in a microgravity environment. Contact the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for schedule availability and individual or group cost information.
By far one of the most popular attractions is the bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center located near Launch Complex 39. The 100,000-square-foot facility houses a restored Saturn V launch vehicle and features other exhibits related to the Apollo program. Also on display is a slice of Moon rock that visitors can touch.
Other exhibits include the Apollo 14 command module Kitty Hawk, a piece of Apollo 13’s Lunar Module returned by the astronauts, lunar samples from Apollo 15 and Apollo 17, and a large cut-away scale model of the Saturn V.
Visit the website or call visitor information to confirm the availability of bus tours during your visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has not forgotten that interest in space and science begins when we are young. The brand-new Planet Play is a fully immersive multiple-story indoor play area for children ages 2-12. Numerous interactive gaming and artistic components are designed to create a memorable learning experience including opportunities to map a constellation, climb a wormhole, walk on Saturn’s rings, and slide through an asteroid field.
While kids play and learn, parents can enjoy refreshments in a comfortable lounge while watching their tiny explorers learn about space.
Our final stop exploring Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the must-see Space Shuttle Atlantis. You cannot miss the entrance. A full-scale space shuttle stack of two solid rocket boosters and orange external tank greet you to experience more than 60 interactive exhibits celebrating the history, technology and impact of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.
NASA announced that Space Shuttle Atlantis would be provided to the visitor center for display after its last flight, offering a nearly 360-degree view of the shuttle. Standing beside the Atlantis which flew the final shuttle mission is a sight to behold. Atlantis is positioned at a 43-degree angle with the payload bay doors open; a view only previously seen in space.
In addition to Atlantis, the exhibit includes a life-sized replica of the Hubble Space Telescope. Learn how Hubble has answered some of the most basic questions about the universe and is still operating in space more than 25 years later.
While visiting Atlantis, strap in tight for the Shuttle Launch Experience which simulates the sights, sounds and sensations of the space shuttle’s eight-and-a-half-minute ascent into orbit!
Before your visit ends, visit Forever Remembered honoring the astronauts who lost their lives during the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle missions. This permanent exhibit displays personal items from each astronaut including a section of Challenger’s left fuselage with American flag and the framework of Columbia’s cockpit windows.
Stepping outside visit the Space Mirror Memorial where NASA’s fallen heroes are honored. The polished black granite commemorates astronauts who gave their lives in pursuit of knowledge that lies beyond Earth.
Thanks for exploring the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with me. A visit should be on your must-do list, the next time you visit Orlando.