Of course, the Kennedy Space Centre is not primarily an amusement park and is probably more widely known as the official home of the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions’ launch sites and it is an integral part of NASA’s space exploration program. Nevertheless, it can also proudly boast of its credentials too as an amusement park attraction with many thousands of tourists visiting it each year. The amusement park is located within the Space Centre itself at Cape Canaveral on Florida’s east coast, midway between Jacksonville and Miami and has become one of the ‘must visit’ amusement park attractions in Florida.
In fact, the facility which first opened in 1962 was originally called the Launch Operations Centre but was given its present name in honour of the late President John F. Kennedy following his assassination in 1963. In fact, for several years, even the cape itself was called ‘Cape Kennedy’ but following objections by local residents, it reverted back to Cape Canaveral as part of a legislative act in 1973.
The amusement park, or the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex, to give the amusement park its correct title, is the only place in the world where visitors can tour an actual launch area, speak to a veteran astronaut, witness an actual Space Shuttle launch and even have a go at training in a flight simulator. For visitors to the amusement park, the experience is as close to a real-life astronaut mission as you can imagine. The six storey structure at the amusement park resembles that of the actual Space Shuttle launch pad itself and as you walk along the gantry to the flight simulator, an ex Space Shuttle commander is on hand to take you through the launch step-by-step adding to the tension. The visuals, sound and atmospheric effects all combine to heighten the drama before you embark upon your own shuttle launch at the amusement park.
The amusement park also features the Apollo/Saturn V Centre where older visitors can relive the excitement of those original Apollo missions, climaxing with Apollo 11’s landing on the moon. There are also IMAX movie theatres with five storey high screens at the amusement park inside which you’ll feel as though you are floating alongside NASA astronauts as they carry out their space exploration work.
The amusement park also features guided tours in which you can go behind the scenes to gain a better knowledge and understanding of the space centre’s working space flight technologies and facilities as well as it housing some treasured space artefacts gathered from actual space missions and moon landings.
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