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16 Kennedy Space Center Tips for Your First Visit

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Planning on visiting Kennedy Space Center for the first time? Then make sure you read all my Kennedy Space Center tips to help plan your trip here!

kennedy space center tips

One place that should be on everyone’s US bucket list is visiting Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Wow, what a place this is. Honestly, I can’t tell you how much I loved it here.

It’s just so different to all the other theme parks in Florida, partly because there’s SO MUCH to see and do. Also, there’s so much to learn too – and that’s a good thing!

It kinda feels like a school trip when you’re a kid. Everything is new and exciting – you just want to play with everything, hit all the buttons, and rush from one display to the next. It’s a lot like that. I don’t think I’ve ever come away from somewhere with such awe for space and this planet we call home.

kennedy space center visitor tips
Visiting Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) is a must on any trip to Florida

If you’re planning on visiting Kennedy Space Center for the first time, it can be incredibly overwhelming. I know it was for me. The whole site is absolutely massive, and squeezing everything in takes a lot longer than you’d expect. If you’re not prepared beforehand, the day can really run away from you.

That’s why I wanted to come up with these Kennedy Space Center tips to help plan your trip here. I’ve done all the research so you don’t have to.

All you need to do is read these top tips, take them on board, and hopefully they’ll make things a little easier on the day.

So, if you’re planning of visiting KSC, make sure you bookmark this article for your next to Florida!

Heading to a different part of Florida? Then check out the best adventures in Florida, and my detailed guide to Fort Myers.

Why you should visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

things to do at kennedy space center
There is just so much to see and do here

Like all kids, I was absolutely captivated by space growing up. I wanted to be an astronaut, I had the glow-in-the-dark stars and planets on my ceiling, the whole shebang.

Even when you grow up, that sense of fascination with space never leaves you. The numbers are just so staggering. Did you know it’s thought our universe contains 70 septillion stars? That number looks like this – 700,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

In comparison, astronomers estimate there are roughly 10,000 stars for each grain of sand on Earth. So every time you walk on the beach, it’s like walking over millions and millions of stars. It’s hard not being overwhelmed with numbers like that, isn’t it?

ksc visitor information
I was left in awe after my trip to KSCVC

That’s what I loved about the KSCVC though. Everything was brought to life, and I learned so much along the way.

From interactive displays where you get to launch a rocket to fun 4D simulators that take you to outerspace, everything is fun and exciting.

Then there are extras like learning all about the James Webb Telescope at the IMAX theatre or having lunch with an astronaut. Or standing underneath the rocket thrusters of Saturn II, or walking around the Rocket Garden.

As you can tell, there is A LOT to do here, which brings me along beautifully to my top tips for Kennedy Space Center. As I said, hopefully these can help plan your trip here. I wish I knew these before my first visit, I’ll tell you that!

Kennedy Space Center Tips

Have a plan of action beforehand

gateway ksc
I can’t stress this enough – have a plan of action before you arrive

As I’ve already touched upon, time is everything here. You really don’t want to waste a minute so you can jam everything in. I was here for two days and even then I wish I had more time.

One thing I would recommend is take a look at the Kennedy Space Center visitor complex map beforehand so you’re familiar with where the main sections are. Obviously it can take a fair bit of time walking around the park, so factor that in when planning.

apollo 14 command module
The Apollo 14 command module is brilliant to see

Also, appreciate the fact that things take longer that they say. The timing for the James Webb Telescope film at the IMAX says it takes 40 minutes, but that’s just for the film. When you factor in queuing up beforehand, then leaving the theatre afterwards, it’s more like an hour.

Don’t worry, I’ll give you a rough Kennedy Space Center itinerary later to help with timings.

Download the KSC app to see the schedule

what to see at kennedy space center
Just look at the size of the Saturn V rocket!

To help come up with a plan of action, I’d recommend downloading the KSC app before your visit. Then you can see the schedule of what’s on when, and start planning your day around that.

If you know before you arrive that you want to see the “Chat with an Astronaut” at 10am, then the “Rocket Garden tour” at 11:15am, then the IMAX movie at 3:30pm, then you’ve got the backbone of a plan.

Otherwise, you’ll walk into the park, look at the schedule on the big board at the entrance and say “I want to see everything”, and just waste time coming up with a POA. Save yourself time by doing it all before visiting Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Come for two days instead of one

theme parks florida
It’s very hard seeing everything in the park

One way of taking that time pressure off you is by getting a two-day ticket instead of a one-day ticket. We came for two days, and I was so thankful we did – we would never have had enough time to see everything in a day. Also, it’s really not much more money getting a two-day ticket.

The price of a one-day ticket is $75. The price of a two-day ticket is $89. That’s only $14 more for an extra day here. I think that’s really good value for money. Then you really can see everything this place has to offer.

Gates open at 9am, but the carpark opens at 8:30am

gates kennedy space center
Gates open at 9am, but the carpark opens at 8:30am

The Kennedy Space Center is open from 9am to 6pm. However, not everyone knows that the car park opens at 8:30am. This is a bit of a local secret, as you’ll see everyone with annual passes arriving at this time.

Even though there is a bit more of a queue to get into the carpark at 8:30am, it does mean you can get into the park pretty much on the dot of 9am when everything opens up.

Head straight to Spaceport KSC

visit kennedy space center
Try and get to Spaceport KSC right away

One of the biggest attractions is Spaceport KSC. This is where you can embark on four incredible journeys to outerspace during an interactive themepark ride. These are more like some of the rides you’d get at other parks in Orlando.

The four rides are Cosmic Wonders, Daring Explorers, Red Planet, and Uncharted Worlds. They really are worth queuing up for, even if it does take a while.

spaceport ksc
There are four different rides you can go on here

On my first day here, I didn’t realise how long it’d take to queue. Even though the queue length said 40 minutes, I thought it must be quicker than that. In the end though, it took an hour – I was so frustrated as I wanted to see so much more of the park and not waste time!

On my second day, I headed straight for Spaceport KSC and there was no queue at all. For the first hour of the day, from 9am to 10am, you’ve got a good chance of going on all four rides without having to queue up. That means you can tick them all off before exploring the rest of the park.

If you only ride one, pick Red Planet

ksc spaceport
Red Planet (which is Gate C) is the best ride at Spaceport KSC

Obviously everyone’s different, but I thought Red Planet was the best ride by far. It also has the most seats, which means it’s the quickest ride too. That means, if you only have time to go on one ride, I’d really recommend Red Planet.

I really liked Cosmic Wonders and Uncharted worlds, but Daring Explorers was a bit meh in comparison.

If you’re travelling with babies/young kids, make use of the child swap system

visiting kennedy space center
I really liked the child swap system they have here

There is a height restriction of 99cms (39 inches), so if you’re travelling with babies/young kids that aren’t tall enough, then this one’s for you.

At KSCVC they have a child swap system. This is where you all queue up together as a family. Then when you’re at the front, one of you goes on the ride, and the other goes off into a side room with your kid.

kids at ksc
There are loads of interactive displays that babies will love

Then, after you’ve been on the ride, you swap over and the other parent can go on the ride without queuing all over again.

Chloe and I did this and it was really useful. It meant we both could experience all the rides without wasting loads of time. Obviously it takes a bit longer than if you don’t have kids as you’re going on separate rides, but it’s a great system. It means one of you doesn’t miss out when looking after the kid.

Factor in 2 to 3 hours for the Kennedy Space Center bus tour

saturn v ksc
People underestimate how long the KSC bus tour takes

I didn’t realise this before I visited KSC, but there’s a whole other section to the park that’s miles away. So far away that they have a separate bus tour just to get there.

One of the Kennedy Space Center tips I wish I knew beforehand was how long this tour would take. Well, I’d factor in a good 2 to 3 hours for this.

luna landing command center
This is the original luna command center used in 1968

The other site is where the house the Saturn V rocket in it’s full resplendence. Nothing can prepare you for how big this is. You also get to see the original luna command center where they do a cool interactive display of what it would’ve been like in the countdown to liftoff in 1968.

There is so much to see over here. From how to luna landing was nearly aborted, to seeing how small the Apollo 14 command module is, to touching space rock, you could easily spend a whole morning or afternoon just here. You’ve been warned – there is a lot to do at the Apollo/Saturn Center!

Sit on the right side of the bus

vehicle assembly building
This photo is from the left side of the bus – it would’ve been a lot better on the right!

When you get on the bus itself, make sure you sit on the right side. This means you’ll have a much better view of VAB, the Vehicle Assembly Building. This is a massive block of a building where they assemble rockets pre-launch.

It was originally built in 1966 for the Apollo-Saturn V space vehicle. When you’ve seen the size of the Saturn V rocket, you’ll understand why they needed such a big building. In fact, it’s the eighth-largest building in the world by volume, and it has the biggest doors in the world. The doors themselves take 45 minutes to fully open!

Also, if you sit on the right, you’ll have a much better view of the crawler-transporters used to move the giant rockets themselves. These things move at a sedate 1mph, so they’re not exactly quick, but when you see what they’re transporting it’s easy to see why!

There’s a secret lift that mean you can skip the queue for Atlantis

space shuttle atlantis
This is a very cheeky KSC visitor tip!

I’m not too sure I should include this in my Kennedy Space Center visitor tips or not, but here we go.

The Atlantis complex is one of the most popular attractions at KSC. Usually you have to queue up before you can enter the main theatre. Depending on show timings, you can be waiting around a bit. And as they can only let in a set number of people you might have to wait for the next show.

However, there’s a lift that can bypass the queue. We found this out because we had our son in the pram and we didn’t want to push him to the top of the building. We saw this lift directly to the left by the toilets immediately after we entered the building, so we decided catch that to the 3rd floor. We were pretty surprised that this deposited us directly in the Atlantis theatre and meant we had bypassed the long queue.

I would say only use this one if you actually need to – it is mainly there for families with prams or with wheelchairs.

Skip breakfast or lunch; have it with an astronaut instead

lunch with an astronaut ksc
I loved meeting and chatting to Tony Antonelli

One of the paid extras you can do is have breakfast or lunch with an astronaut. At $50 extra, you might think this is expensive, but I actually thought it was quite good value for money.

These talks are either at 9:45am (Monday to Friday)/10am (Saturday & Sunday) or 2pm. They are basically a 45-minute Q&A session with an astronaut where you can pick their brains about space. You can ask them anything from whether they were scared going up to space, or what it’s like taking a crap.

meeting an astronaut ksc
You get to ask loads of questions in a Q&A

Included in the ticket is a buffet, and it’s actually very substantial. For lunch, I had slices of beef brisket with bbq sauce, sliders, cheese and biscuits, then there was cake and other sweet treats to choose from. It also included an alcoholic beverage (beer or wine) which I thought was a nice touch. It was loads of food though, definitely enough for breakfast or lunch.

This means, instead of paying for breakfast at your hotel or lunch in the park, you can plan your day around the talk and have a meal included. All in all, for lunch with beer, and chatting to a real-life astronaut, and getting a commemorative coin and signed photo, all for $50 – I think that’s pretty good.

Share some Space Dots

space dots ksc
Make sure you try Space Dots!

If you’re looking for a sweet treat, I’d really recommend Space Dots. These are little balls of ice cream and sorbet, perfect for cooling down on a hot day.

At $7 a pop, they’re one of the cheaper snacks in KSC, but they’re pretty big too. I would say one pot of Space Dots could easily be shared between two people or even with your kids.

Book the Hyperdeck VR early in the morning

hyperdeck vr
The Hyperdeck was so much fun!

One of the top things to do at Kennedy Space Center is the Hypderdeck VR game. This is when you’re an astronaut sent to space and you have to mine crucial resources with your laser blasters. It’s an immersive multi-simulator virtual experience and I absolutely loved it. It was definitely one of my favourite things to do here.

As there are only limited spaces, it’s best to book this on the KSC app as soon as you arrive. You can book a 10-minute slot for up to 4 people, but it’s best to get in early so you don’t miss out on this one.

Go on as many tours as you can squeeze in

ksc bus tour
There are loads of different tours to go on

For me, I really loved all the little tours. Some of these like the Atlantis tour were only 20 minutes long, but I learned so much more than I would’ve done if I walked around myself. I think a lot of people skip the tours so they have more time for other things, but I think the tours are invaluable for getting the most out of your visit.

Another tour I’d really recommend is the Rocket Garden tour. I found this fascinating learning all about the Space Race and what all the different rockets were used for.

Find out when a rocket launch is happening to coincide with your trip

rocket launch new smyrna beach
This is what a rocket launch from New Smyrna Beach looks like

I mention this in my article about the top things to do in New Smyrna Beach, but one of the reasons we were so excited about visiting Florida this time around was the chance at seeing a rocket launch. You can see them from New Smyrna Beach itself or other places along the Space Coast.

SpaceX launched 93 times in 2023, and they’re aiming for 144 times in 2024. That means if you’re staying in New Smyrna Beach or the Space Coast for more than a few days, you’ve got a good chance of seeing a rocket launch. Amazing, right?

Some locals were surprised at how excited we were to watch a launch, but this was our FIRST EVER ROCKET LAUNCH! Obviously we were super excited, and it was such an amazing experience. If you can coincide your trip to KSC with a rocket launch, then I’d definitely recommend that.

I didn’t find it that busy in the park

rocket garden
I actually didn’t find the park all that busy which really surprised me

I’m not too sure if this is a tip or not, but I never found it oppressively busy at Kennedy Space Center. It was busy, but it wasn’t you-can-barely-put-one-leg-in-front-of-the-other busy.

Now you can say “I bet you went on a Monday in January.” I went on a Friday and Saturday at the very start of Spring Break. It should’ve been rammed, but it never felt crazy. I think that’s because everything is so spaced out which is a real bonus.

Kennedy Space Center itinerary

top attractions in florida
I really hope you’ve found these tips for visiting Kennedy Space Center useful!

As I’ve been banging on about why you should get a 2-day ticket, I’m going to give you our 2-day itinerary. Hopefully this will give you a rough outline of what to see and timings.

Day 1:

09:00 – Arrive, park up and get your tickets
09:30 to 10:30 – Head straight to Gateway and do all the Spaceport KSC rides
10:30 to 11:15 – Explore Gateway and the interactive displays
11:15 to 11:30 – Rocket Garden tour
11:45 to 12:15 – Hyperdeck VR game
12:15 to 13:00 – Lunch
13:00 to 15:30 – KSC bus tour
15:30 to 16:30 – Atlantis experience (there is an Alantis walking tour at 15:30 too directly in front of the Atlantis shuttle on the 3rd floor)

Day 2:

09:00 – Arrive, park up and enter the park
09:30 to 10:30 – Heroes & Legends
10:30 to 11:00 – Mission Status briefing
11:00 to 12:00 – Journey to Mars
12:30 to 13:30 – IMAX Movie: Deep Sky
14:00 to 15:00 – Chat with an Astronaut (with lunch included)
15:00 onwards – Free time to experience anything else you think you’ve missed!

This post was in association with Visit Florida and Kennedy Space Center promoting the best things to do in the area. As always, all views are entirely my own and without bias.

If you have any questions about Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, let me know if the comments below and I’ll help plan your trip here.

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16 Kennedy Space Center Tips for Your First Visit

About the Author

  • Macca Sherifi

    Macca Sherifi is the founder of the multiple award-winning blogs An Adventurous World and the Great British Bucket List. Every month he inspires over 200,000 avid readers to travel the world.

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