Size of Park: It’s an entire area including a bus tour so difficult to compare to other parks but according to google 219 square miles
Days I think you should spend there: 1 day
Best Ride: It’s not really a ride place but there is a simulator that imitates blasting off in a shuttle.
Give it a miss if you don’t have time: The must do things are the bus tour and Atlantis centre. Everything else is great but not compulsory
What to FastPass: There is no Fast Pass available at the park
Where to Eat: Lunch with an astronaut – not cheap but an incredible experience.
The Rocket Garden – this is the spectacular start to your day. When we were there I think there were 8 rockets. We actually arrived just as a tour started (free) and jumped at the chance to go around with him. It was really informative and was better than just reading all the signs. It wasn’t too long either – about 20 minutes. I would recommend this if you arrive at a convenient time but don’t stress about it if not.
Journey to Mars – this is great if you have small children. It’s all about inspiring the next generation of space explorers and explains all about how we’re making progress towards sending humans to Mars.
Atlantis Centre – I would recommend starting your day here. It’s incredible and I don’t want to ruin it for you. But you will see all about the shuttle programme, and one of the surviving shuttles is so close you can almost reach out and touch it. This is also your opportunity to learn all about life in space – including answering my sister’s question “how do you go to the toilet in space?”
IMAX Theatres – over time there have been a variety of films here, I think it’s worth watching if you have time but I felt you can watch a film anywhere so we didn’t actually have time to watch them on our most recent visit.
Space Centre Bus Tours – this takes up a big chunk of your day. I would say 2-3 hours at the very least. You start out on a 40 minute guided bus journey which consists of commentary and video clips. You will see the building where they store the rockets before they fly and two of the launch pads – including the one currently in use by SpaceX. They will also point out any Florida wildlife you pass on your way. The main stop is at the Saturn V centre which is all about the moon landings and you can see the inside of one of the real control rooms.
1. Speak to the staff around the exhibits – they are not normal museum staff! The last couple of people we have spoken to have worked on the engines and the wings of the shuttles. They are a different level of clever but are so passionate and really know their stuff. They’re as happy to answer questions from the silly to the very intelligent.
2. Invest in lunch with an astronaut if you can afford it – this was brilliant. There was capacity for about 200 people but it was less than half full when we visited. You have a buffet lunch and the quality of the food was great. After that, the astronaut does a brief introduction about themselves and their space missions and then the floor is opened up to question. We met with Winston Scott and he was so charismatic it was a pleasure to meet with him and hear about his experiences. There is then the opportunity to have a photograph. If you don’t have the time or money for the lunch that’s ok, you can still meet an astronaut in the astronaut encounter area.
3. Go on a launch day – this is optional. If you don’t want the park to be crazy busy then don’t do this. But, seeing a launch is something I can only imagine would be really special. One of my strongest childhood memories is being in the pool at a villa and seeing a huge ball of light heading upwards. Sadly, last time we went the launch was pushed back so we weren’t even close to seeing one. Regular viewing is included in your day ticket, or if you want to get even closer you can pay extra and they will provide transport to viewing areas.
4. There’s a lot here to entertain kids. An entire playground and areas such as journey to mars designed to interact with children. The Atlantis Centre is also great for children with slides and an area you can climb through to see what a spaceship would be like.
5. And my most important tip! Don’t overlook this park. If you aren’t into space you will probably still love it. No member of our family is interested in space but it’s still one of our top places to visit. It also takes longer than you think. We arrived at 11 (slow start and the drive from Orlando) and stayed until closing and still only managed to do the bus tour (and Saturn V centre) lunch with an astronaut and the Atlantis Centre.