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0 Kennedy Space Center, Orlando

18 Oct 2014 | 06:30:00

Orlando . 2014 . May 3

This post is part of our Orlando USA Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

Today, after all the fun and excitement at the theme parks of Walt Disney World (EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom) and Universal Studios, we planned for a day tour out of the comfort of Hyatt Place Orlando / Universal to the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA Headquarters

The Kennedy Space Center is the functioning operational base of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, more commonly known to us as NASA, the US agency that was responsible for the space program that sent mankind to the moon, orbited satellites around Earth and sent probes through the solar system to explore other planets and beyond.  Exciting, isn’t it?

The Kennedy Space Center is located only an hour’s drive away from Orlando, and it had very good reviews on the internet.  Therefore, Tommy and I made it a point to set aside one day to visit this very place that sent man to space and back.

Grayline Tours

A few agencies operate tours to the Kennedy Space Center, but we picked Grayline. We had to pay USD $20 extra for Grayline to pick us up directly from our hotel at the Hyatt Place because the usual pick up place was just too far (Orlando is a huge place).

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is run entirely on ticket sales from visitors and no American tax dollars was used to run its facilities.  So I guess Tommy and I contributed to the upkeep of this place through the purchase of entry tickets.

To start off the tour, we had a real astronaut who had previously worked at the International Space Center to share with us his experiences working and floating around in space. You might want to note that this is an exclusive welcome for Grayline customers.

After that, it was free and easy time for all of us to explore the Kennedy Space Center at our own leisure.  If you are at the Kennedy Space Center, time management is very important if you hope to cover everything that is on offer.  There is a daily schedule that comes with the brochure for the Kennedy Space Center, so be sure to refer to it and plan your day before starting off.

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour

Tommy and I decided to  do the Kennedy Space Centre (KSC) Bus Tour first.    The Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour is included with your admission tickets.  It starts from 10 am and continues to run every 15 minutes, but the queues could be long and we had to wait for the next bus before we could get on.  This bus tour brings us to the launch pads, most notably the Apollo 8 launch site where the first manned spacecraft was launched and successfully left the Earth’s orbit.

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour Queue (Credits:
The Vehicle Assembly Building - the first buildings that the KSC Tour Buses passes by. Apparently, it is one of the world’s largest structure in volume, and it is here that the space shuttles were assembled before being transferred to their launch pads!

On our way to view some of the launch pads.  There would usually be a flurry of activities in the build-up to a space shuttle launched, but we missed the last space launch by one few week when we visited.  What a shame!

Do you know a whooping 5000 alligators live in the freshwater swamps behind the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.  We had a glimpse of a few huge ones sunning themselves as our tour bus went on its way to the rocket launch pads.

Alligators (Credits:
The Kennedy Space Center also consist of a Wildlife Refuge that is home to a array of birds, amphibians, mammals and plants.  These huge birds looked like vultures to us, and it was said that even bald eagles could be spotted here.  The mention of bald eagles brings back fond memories of Alaska.  We were just wondering how these wildlife would be impacted when there is a rocket launch where it would inevitably cause huge amount of noise and air pollution.

The Kennedy Space Center is located by the Atlantic Ocean and consists of land, swamp and waterways.   The day before a space launch, the astronauts and their families would usually walk along this exact piece of beach along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean to relax and clear their minds.  Imagine the stress of being an astronaut!

There is only one tour stop along the way, and that is at the Apollo/Saturn V Centre.  It is actually an educational centre and a museum, housing some of the most historical and important monuments in America’s space history.  The entire KSC bus tour can take between 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on how long you intend to stay at the Apollo/Saturn V Centre.

This theatre lets us experience the real preparation and control work behind the scene minutes before a rocket is launched.

That’s the real Saturn V rocket, the largest rocket ever made.  Stand beneath it to experience the awe of its sheer size.  The Saturn V rocket was responsible for ferrying 27 astronauts to the moon and back.

Getting to know the life of a real astronaut.  Astronauts had a team of workers who carefully prepared each of them for their space launch.  This is the real vehicle that was used to transport them to the launch pad for their travel into space!

There’s only one cafe at the Apollo/Saturn V Centre, and that’s the Moon Rock Cafe.  Sounds very much like Hard Rock Cafe isn’t it?

I love this Snoopy impersonation of an astronaut.  His plush toy is also available at the souvenir shop - it’s super cute!

At the Apollo/Saturn V Centre, there is a short film that plays on a 15 to 20 minute interval.  Be sure not to miss this, the effects were quite good!

Touching a piece of the Moon.  Apparently, this piece of moon-rock consists of basalt produced from cooled lava.  It brings to mind the basalt columns in Iceland, which felt exactly the same! Apparently, this particular piece was formed 3.7 billion years ago and is older than the majority of the surface rocks on Earth!

Peering into the cockpit of a space craft.

That’s a real suit that an astronaut wears.  Space fashion changes with every launch as improvements were made to the suit.

Here’s another piece of the moon.  The astronauts were armed with specially crafted containers and rovers to collect lunar samples to prevent cross-contamination.

We spent a fair bit of time at the Apollo/Saturn V Centre before taking the KSC tour bus back to the Visitors Complex.

Space Shuttle Atlantis Center

Next stop for us was the Space Shuttle Atlantis Center where the now-retired space shuttle Atlantis was on display.

Atlantis is the second to last space shuttle built and ferries vital components for the construction of the International Space Center.  It also ferried crew to the Hubble Space Telescope to install components to maintain and upgrade the Telescope.

The retired Atlantis on display was raised 9m off the ground and rotated 43 degrees - as it it were in space.  This is the view that astronauts from the International Space Station see when the Atlantis was docked.

Shuttle Launch Experience 

At the Atlantis Center, another attraction was the ‘Shuttle Launch Experience’.  At the Shuttle Launch Experience, visitors get to experience the sensations of being in a space shuttle very much like Atlantis.    It goes through a launch stage, then orbit and finally return to Earth.  

Shuttle Launch (Credits:
Very impressive, but this ride was very mild and tame and no where near what we had experienced at Spaceship Earth at Epcot.  If you want to experience a real rocket launch, Epcot is the place to go.

IMAX Movies

Beside the KSC Bus Tour and Shuttle Launch Experience, another attraction not to miss are the IMAX Movies.  At this time of writing, the two movies on offer were ‘Hubble 3D’ narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio (yes, you read that right!) which chronicles the effort of astronauts on board the Atlantis to repair the Hubble Space Telescope and ‘Space Station 3D narrated by Tom Cruise.  Although both were touted as 3D movies, the effects were certainly not the best, especially when you compare what we experienced at Walt Disney World (EPCOTAnimal KingdomHollywood StudiosMagic Kingdom) and Universal Studios.

IMAX Theater (Credits:

Angry Bird Space Encounter

The latest attraction at Kennedy Space Center - Angry Birds Space Encounter.  We never could fathom why this game was so popular, but apparently at the Kennedy Space Center, the whole new attraction dedicated to it.  It actually consist of arcade-like game stations targeted at young kids. Definitely not our cup of tea!

At the souvenir shop.  We found this freeze-dried ice-cream that astronauts consume on board their space ship but we were in a rush to catch our return bus and forgot to buy it to try!

Rocket Garden 

At the Rocket Garden which was a outdoor exhibition of the real rockets that were used to put mankind and satellites into space!  All the rockets displayed vertically were designed primarily for military use, except the huge Saturn 1B which was displayed horizontally.

See how small humans are in comparison.

Overall, it was a fun day exploring the exhibits at Kennedy Space Center. If you have a day to spare on your trip to Orlando, we would definitely recommend that you pay Kennedy Space Center a visit! :)

This post is part of our Orlando USA Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. To receive notifications on updates, subscribe to our blog via RSS feed and email.

Like us on Facebook @ Discover. Book . Travel and follow us on Twitter @Discoverbooktra!

Do check out our Flickr photos & Youtube videos too!

2 Orlando USA Trip Report and Itinerary (Updated)

16 Oct 2014 | 19:56:00

Orlando (USA) . 2014 . Apr 22 - May 7

Orlando is one of the places in our bucket list as we strive to visit every Disneyland in the world! :)

Orlando is sometimes known as "The Theme Park Capital of the World" with its numerous famous theme park attractions which include Walt Disney World Resort, located approximately 21 miles (34 km) southwest of Downtown Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, opened by the Walt Disney Company in 1971; the Universal Orlando Resort, which consists of the two parks of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure; City Walk; SeaWorld; Gatorland; and Wet 'n Wild Water Park.

Orlando''s tourist attractions draw more than 51 million tourists a year, including 3.6 million international guests. In fact, the Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the thirteenth busiest airport in the United States and the 29th busiest in the world.

Here's our itinerary with some photos and links to our reviews for our trip. The links will become clickable as we post them. Do bookmark this page as we update the reviews! :)

Last Updated: 16 Oct 2014

Day 0  Singapore -> New York (Apr 22)

2130        Check in at Singapore Changi Airport
2355        Flight to New York JFK Airport

Day 1  New York JFK Airport (Apr 23)

1100 Arrive at New York JFK Airport
1230 Check in at Hampton Inn NY-JFK Airport Hotel
1400 Rest
1800     Order Takeout Dinner
2000 Back to hotel

Day 2  New York -> Orlando (Apr 24)

0430 Rise and Shine
0500 Hotel shuttle to JFK Airport
0530 Check in at Airport
0725 Board American Airlines flight to Orlando
1020 Touch down at Orlando Airport
1100 Disney’s Magical Express to Pop Century Resort
1200 Check in to Pop Century Resort
1230 Lunch @ Katsura Grill
1300 Visit Disney World’s EPCOT - World Showcase
              - Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
              - Take photo with Duffy
              - Innovations East / Innovations West
              - Spaceship Earth (FP+)
              - Mission: SPACE (FP+)
1945 Dinner @ Nine Dragons Restaurant
2100 IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth (FP+)
2200 Back to Pop Century Resort

Day 3  Walt Disney World -Animal Kingdom (Apr 25)

0730 Rise and Shine
0800 Breakfast at Pop Century Resort
0900 Visit Disney World’s Animal Kingdom
- Dinoland U.S.A and Discovery Island
              - Finding Nemo – The Musical (FP+)
  - Kali River Rapids (FP+)
              - Wildlife Express to Conservation Station
              - Take photo with Chip & Dale
1430 Lunch @ Tamu Tamu Refreshments
1530     Visit Disney World’s Animal Kingdom
- Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade
             - Kilimanjaro Safaris (FP+)
  - Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
1830 Shopping
2000 Dinner @ Resort
2100 Back to Pop Century Resort

Day 4  Walt Disney World - EPCOT + Downtown Disney (Apr 26)

0730 Rise and Shine
0800 Breakfast at Pop Century Resort
0900 Visit Disney World’s Epcot Part 1, Part 2
              - The Seas with Nemo & Friends (FP+)
              - Living with the Land (FP+)
              - Journey Into Imagination With Figment (FP+)
1230 Lunch @ Coral Reef Restaurant
1400 Back to Hotel
1600 Visit Downtown Disney
- Disney Quest Indoor Interactive Theme Park
2000 Dinner @ Earl of Sandwich
2200 Back to Pop Century Resort

Day 5  Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom (Apr 27)

0730 Rise and Shine
0800 Breakfast at Pop Century Resort
0900 Visit Disney World’s Magic Kingdom (Part 1)
              - Emporium (Shopping)
              - Stitch’s Great Escape
              - Tomorrowland Speedway (FP+)
              - Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
              - Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress
              - Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
              - Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
              - Mickey's PhilharMagic
              - "it's a small world"
1330 Lunch @ Diamond Horseshoe
1430  Visit Disney World’s Magic Kingdom (Part 2)
             - Jungle Cruise (FP+)
             - Pirates of the Carribbean
             - Haunted Mansion
             - Peter Pan's Flight
             - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
             - Under the Seas - Journey of the Little Mermaid (FP+)
2100 Dinner @ Resort
0000 Back to Pop Century Resort

Day 6  Walt Disney World - Hollywood Studios (Apr 28)

0730 Rise and Shine
0800 Breakfast at Pop Century Resort
0900 Visit Disney World’s Hollywood Studios (Part 1)
              - Star Tours® -The Adventures Continue
              - Muppet Vision 3D
              - Studio Backlot Tour
              - Indiana Jones™ Epic Stunt Spectacular! (FP+)
              - Walt Disney: One Man's Dream
              - Lights, Motors, Action!® Extreme Stunt Show (FP+)
              - The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
              - The Great Movie Ride
              - Take photo with Stitch
1500      Late Lunch
1600  Visit Disney World’s Hollywood Studios (Part 2)
              - Beauty and the Beast—Live on Stage
              - American Idol
- Toy Story Midway Mania
              - Voyage of The Little Mermaid
              - Fantasmic! (FP+)
2200 Back to Pop Century Resort

Day 7  Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom + Premium Outlets (Apr 29)

0730 Rise and Shine
0830 Check out of Pop Century Resort
0900 Visit Disney World’s Magic Kingdom (Part 3)
              - Big Thunder Railroad (FP+)
              - Splash Mountain (FP+)
              - Take photo with Mickey (FP+)
1300 Back to Pop Century Resort
1330 Lunch @ Resort
1400 Taxi to International Drive (Orlando Universal Studio)
1430 Check-in Hyatt Place Orlando Universal
1500      Visit Orlando Premium Outlets
1900 Dinner @ Premium Outlets
2200 Back to Hyatt Place

Day 8  Universal Studios Florida (Apr 30)

0730 Rise and Shine
0800 Breakfast at Hyatt Place
0830 Hotel Shuttle to Universal Studios
0900 Visit Universal Studios Florida
2100 Back to Hyatt Place

Day 9  Orlando Premium Outlets (May 1)

0800 Rise and Shine
0830 Breakfast at Hyatt Place
0930 I-Trolley bus to Orlando Premium Outlets (International Drive)
1030 Shopping at Orlando Premium Outlets
2200 Back to Hyatt Place

Day 10  Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (May 2)

0630 Rise and Shine
0700 Breakfast at Hyatt Place
0730 Hotel Shuttle to Universal Studios
0800 Visit Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
0900      The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Part 1 / Part 2
1200      Lunch at Three Broomsticks
1300      Continue visit of Islands of Adventure
1700      Dinner @ Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
1800 Back to Hyatt Place

Day 11  Kennedy Space Center (May 3)

0800 Grayline bus to Kennedy Space Centre
0900 Reach Kennedy Space Center
1000 KSC Bus Tour
1200 “Space Station” 3D Imax Show narrated by Tom Cruise
1300 Shuttle Launch experience
1530 “Hubble” 3D Imax Show narrated by Leonardo Dicaprio
1700 Shuttle back to Hyatt Place

Day 12  Free & Easy at Hyatt Place (May 4)

0800 Rise and Shine
0830 Breakfast at Hyatt Place
0900 Rest and relax at Hyatt Place
1200 Lunch at T.G.I. Fridays
1800 Dinner at Hyatt Place

Day 13 to 15  Orlando -> New York -> Singapore (May 5 - May 7)

0600 Rise and Shine
0630 Breakfast at Hyatt Place
0800 Check out of Hyatt Place
0830 Taxi to Orlando Airport
1025 Board Jet Blue flight to New York
1255 Touch down at New York JFK Airport
2055 Board flight to Singapore
0650      Arrive at Singapore Changi Airport (May 7)

The links will become clickable as we post them. Do bookmark this page as we update the reviews! :)

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. To receive notifications on updates, subscribe to our blog via RSS feed and email.

Like us on Facebook @ Discover. Book . Travel and follow us on Twitter @Discoverbooktra!

Do check out our Flickr photos & Youtube videos too!
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