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Blast Off to the Kennedy Space Center: A Journey to Space

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Ever wondered what it would like to fly into space? Well Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, FL - about a little over an hour away from Orlando has you covered!

Here you can learn about the history of space exploration and shuttles to what is to come in the future with space exploration! I am a sucker for all things STEM so I always wanted to visit and I'm so happy we finally went and the best part is they are officially Autism Certified! Lets fly in!

First I want to speak about them being Autism Certified. This is done by the IBCCES and means:

  • Team Members are trained and knowledgeable about autism and sensory sensitivity, They can assist to make sure every guest feels accommodated and supported

  • On-site sensory guidance - these signs can be found in every building and by any attraction - also can be found in the guide.

  • Designated low sensory areas - we used the ones in the Atlantis Shuttle Building and Gateway Building. These came in handy as we needed them for Jace a few times. They are uniquely themed to the buildings they are in. Jace liked the one in Gateway the best due the lights being able to be lowered or turned off and there was a giant lava lamp.

  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex's Sensory Guide - you can get a physical copy at the information center or Guest Services or you can use the one on the website or app. Best part is each guidance sign has a QR code to pull it up as well as the will call ticket windows! We opted to use the website version so I could have it saved on a tab and still use the app to navigate. You look at the guide here.

Every Team Member we interacted with were amazing and super patient. I also do want to notate that they do offer gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free options for food, but you can also bring your own food in too. The guide honestly is a life savor when it comes to looking at all accessibility information. Also it is recommended to speak with guest services with any concerns you may have with waiting etc. Also at guest services, you can rent headphones if you forget yours at home. This can come in handy as it can get really loud. I will say I am extremely pleased in how they did everything and grateful to have more inclusive places for my son to feel more at home with! Without those sensory rooms, we wouldn't have made it through the day.

Now lets talk about Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex! They are home to many attractions and tours, not only that but it is a working space station still so you never know what you may see while there. One of the highlights is the bus tour that takes you behind the scenes at the Kennedy Space Center, giving you a unique glimpse into its inner workings. I highly recommend starting your day with this tour, as it tends to get busier later on, and it closes earlier than the main complex. The 10-minute drive offers a chance to witness various active areas of NASA, accompanied by an informative video that sheds light on everything you'll encounter, including the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building.

Upon reaching the Apollo/Saturn V Center, you'll step back in time to the historic days of the Apollo and Saturn V missions. The experience is truly surreal, allowing you to stand in the presence of the colossal Saturn V rocket, the largest ever flown. Here, you can immerse yourself in the captivating history of the moon landing.

During the return bus journey, you'll learn about Kennedy Space Center's dedicated conservation efforts, a topic close to my heart. The facility encompasses the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, housing over 1,500 species of animals and plants within diverse ecosystems. Keep a keen eye out for various wildlife, including the majestic eagles (though we didn't have the fortune of spotting one on our trip). It's truly inspiring to discover how Kennedy Space Center goes the extra mile to care for its natural surroundings, even during rocket launch days. This commitment to conservation added a layer of appreciation to our visit, knowing the profound impact they have on preserving the environment.

Once back, there are many amazing attractions to visit. This includes Heroes & Legends where you celebrate the pioneers of NASA's Early space programs. We didn'tget a chance to go into here.

The next is the Space Shuttle Atlantis Building, this is another surreal experience seeing the Shuttle Atlantis right in front of you. Here you can find the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction, simulators and much more to learn about the Space Shuttle Program! For the Shuttle Launch Experience, there is a height limit, but the great thing is they do offer child swap and have a room where you can watch your loved ones on the ride - so Jace and I enjoyed watching my husband and Talia on it.

Next is the Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex, here you will see the future of space travel and even what it could be like living in space. This building is also home to three attractions that sadly we didn't get to experience but heard amazing things about them (next time for sure!).

Now naturally one of my kids favorite spot was Planet Play, this is a fully-immersive multiple-story play experience designed for explorers 2-12. They offer a special toddler area as well to ensure they aren't in the same area as the bigger explorers. The best part this is all indoors so on a hot day this is a nice play to let the kids get their energy out but also stay cool.

Besides all mentioned above, they have many shows and theaters offering more educational insights and even one with Snoopy! We didn't do many as Jace didn't want to sit through them. There is also countless shops to buy commemorative merchandise, memorabilia and toys. If you get hungry, there are many food options as well to enjoy - I highly recommend using the app to look at menus to see which place suites your family the best. They do offer special events and tours at additional costs which all look super cool to do, including the Fly With An Astronaut tour.

A 1-day admission ticket is $75 for 12+ and $65 for ages 3-11, but they also offer 2-day tickets with a savings and even annual pass options for those who are local. If you opt for a special event or tour, be sure to check as it may include your park admission. You can purchase your tickets here. Honestly it is worth the price 100% because there is so much to see and do there. We always felt welcomed there and I cannot wait to get back. Thank you Kennedy Space Center for having us!

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