This is how the day started...
Hot, humid, and full of uncertainty. It was a 96-degree day in August. In Florida. Our 6-year-old granddaughter, Audi, is a fashionista, ballerina, and gymnast, who enjoys jewelry-making, beach and pool time, and baking. Could she have fun exploring outer space science stuff with her grandparents at Kennedy Space Center (KSC)? She seemed skeptical. And we weren’t sure.
Audi lives in Orlando – one of the most fun-filled cities around (from my perspective). Chris isn’t as excited about the town. He’s not a fan of waiting in amusement park lines and the hefty fees that go with a day spent at several of Orlando’s most famous entertainment options. But he has always wanted to visit the Kennedy Space Center, so we put that on our activity list for this year’s visit.
At 10:30 a.m., we sweltered and sweated during our walk from our parked vehicle to the Kennedy Space Center’s entrance. It was only a five, maybe ten-minute walk, but oh my. Thank goodness, most of the exhibits at KSC are indoors and air-conditioned. We couldn’t get into our first one of the day fast enough – Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Space Shuttle Atlantis
Once we made it into the Atlantis exhibit, we stopped wilting, and our curiosity bloomed. There is plenty to fill the two-and-a-half hours KSC recommends spending in Atlantis, but we moved through it at a brisk pace. Our goal in bringing Audi along is to spark her interest in science, so we wanted to keep our day fun and moving along. I kept to the 6-year-old friendly highlights with Audi while Chris perused his interests in the area for as long as he could.
The 6-year-old and I started with the Sliding Back to Earth slide. Audi enjoyed the slide for its own sake, but the exhibit’s slide is no mere slide – it is a 22-degree steep-sloped re-entry slide that represents Shuttle Atlantis’s return to Earth. It’s made up of two slides, side by side, which allowed her and I to race each other down. She won every time.
After the slides, we were able to walk around and take in some of the history. Then, we saw the Shuttle Launch Experience. The ride ignited Audi’s curiosity and set the tone for a great rest of the day. The slides were fun and all, but the Shuttle Launch was next-level. A prelaunch briefing was provided via video by commander Charles Bolden. After the briefing, we boarded the ship, secured ourselves in our seats, and, after a safety check, experienced what it’s like to launch into space on a shuttle.
Our Other Kennedy Space Center Favorites (So Far):
Apollo / Saturn V Center
To get to Apollo / Saturn V, you must board the Behind the Gates Bus Tour, a pleasant (air-conditioned) 15-minute ride that takes you by restricted, mission-critical areas of KSC. During the ride, we learned that we were on Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge. Audi and I tried to spy animals while Chris’s attention was more focused on things like NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building.
Sure, the massive Saturn V rocket was a sight to behold, but the Apollo 8 And The Firing Room experience gave me chills and made my eyes mist a bit. All of the uncertainty and emotion felt palpable to me. Would the rocket work? Were astronauts really about to reach the moon? It also kept a 6-year-old fully engaged, which surprised me. Toward the end of the experience, we felt the room shudder as Saturn V lifted off – a simulation, not the real deal (of course).
Before we left the center, our granddaughter walked on the moon and touched a moon rock.
Audi had a blast climbing around the expansive, multi-storied, indoor space-inspired playground. I think all three of us would agree, though, that coloring satellites and watching them move across the screen was our favorite part of Planet Play—Chris and Audi colored satellites. I was too busy admiring theirs to color one of my own. Next time.
Yes, a 6-year-old and Her Grandparents Can Enjoy Kennedy Space Center (A LOT)
There is so much to see and do and take in at Kennedy Space Center that one day is not enough to enjoy all that KSC has to offer. We did not get a chance to check out Heroes and Legends, Hubble Space Telescope Theater, or Spaceport’s journeys to destinations like Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter. There’s more. Even within the areas we made it to, we missed parts. After all, the brain can only take in so much new information in a day, and time is always limited.
Now that we’ve had a taste of Florida’s Space Coast, we look forward to returning. When we revisit Kennedy Space Center, I think we’ll find a hotel on Florida’s Space Coast and do a 2-day Admission Ticket. As I write this, it’s less than $15 more than the 1-day Admission. For current ticket pricing and visitor information, be sure to check their site.
To see some of the fun to be had at Kennedy Space Center, watch our Making Memories: Exploring Kennedy Space Center with Our 6-Year-Old Granddaughter short on YouTube.