View Full Version : The 4F Trip Report - Day 09

08-07-2009, 07:53 AM
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The 4F Trip Report

Day 09 - 05-Jul-2009 - Kennedy Space Center

I was awoken rather rudely this morning by the alarm clock at 7am. I had heard that such times existed on holiday, but had never really seen any evidence for it until now.

As quietly as possible, I got dressed and slipped out - into the somewhat unexpected mist that gave a totally different feel to the Caribbean Beach Resort
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3535/3769683793_802e16cc75_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769683793/)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3484/3769683987_9516ed526a_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769683987/)

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2508/3769684177_a1d75010c8_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769684177/)

So after one walk to Old Port Royale I was at the concierge's desk, and asked the lady if she was able to phone the on-resort Magic Kingdom Car Care Center and ask for a courtesy bus to be sent for me. Oh no, but she could give me a phone number for them. What's with that?

I used my mobile to phone and was told that sure, a courtesy bus could be sent. Around 0930. Hmm... that wasn't the plan. I said it was okay, I would just get the bus to the Magic Kingdom and then the monorail out to the Car Care Center. "No," I was told, "the monorail isn't running today."

Very strange. So I asked the concierge about this; she confirmed it wasn't running and wouldn't be for a couple of days to come. And she was no more forthcoming than that. Sounded as if something bad had happened. She was, however, willing to get me a taxi which turned up shortly thereafter, and duly took me out to the Car Care Center.

The car - an eight-seater of some flavour - was kind-of all right. Well, okay, it stank. Of what, I'm not sure - just general staleness, I think. But it was July 4th weekend, and it was "take it or leave it". I took it and, I have to say, once I worked out how to switch the air conditioning out of recirculate mode, the smell dissipated.

I drove back to our hotel, got some breakfast, and we were ready to go to the Kennedy Space Center.

This was something I was looking forward to. This was Disney's "Imagine" transformed into real life. This was where men were heroic and people did extraordinarily cool things. This was going to be good.

The journey was straightforward, and we got out of the car in searing heat. The car told me that the temperature in the shade was 35C, and that was around 10:00! (I left the display in "metric" mode - I wonder whether the next renter got really confused about that?)

We found the centre pretty quiet, and were easily able to exchange our voucher for tickets. But the moment we got through, I began to feel a little let down. There was a lot of "stuff" on display, like information on the International Space Station
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2476/3770484358_46f843bf66_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3770484358/)

the "Rocket Garden"
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3600/3769684741_1ac7a1ea48_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769684741/)

Even a Saturn rocket (it's huge
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2555/3770484898_59b57f4795_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3770484898/)

and I guess everyone has to take one of these
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2488/3770485452_ff6eb6092d_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3770485452/)

There was a mock-up of the Saturn's control area, where it was hard to believe that three grown men in space suits could work together
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2635/3769685315_1b3c06b641_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769685315/)

But it was all just "stuck out there" with a few noticeboards to tell us what each display was. The only thing that really bought anything to life was the nosecone mockup, where we could sit and pretend to be astronauts.

The kids found the place they wanted to go
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2508/3769686165_2da48f2392_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769686165/)

yes, a big soft play area. We stayed there for a little while before going to watch an IMAX 3D movie about the International Space Station, and that did begin to bring some sense of Inspiration back.

That faded when we went out to lunch. The Orbit Cafe? As the Americans might say, puh-leeeeez!
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3573/3770486320_76076e5881_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3770486320/)

Having said that, the lunch wasn't bad and we then went onto a bus tour.

Our first stop was near the launch pad. Now this was more like it. We went past the Vehicla Assembly Building - VAB - where the rockets are built and the Space Shuttle refitted after each flight. It's the tallest building in the world.

We saw the "crawler," the vehicle that carries the shuttle from the VAB to the launch pad, at a speed of around one mile per hour.
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2436/3769689387_d3a2afd0fc_b.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769689387/)

We could see the tracks along which it went, too
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3519/3770486616_94be87934d_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3770486616/)

08-07-2009, 07:53 AM
And then we got to the viewing gallery, and ahead of us we could see Endeavour on the launch pad. The inspiration was there 100% by this point, it was thrilling.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3428/3770486928_d36a94ab88_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3770486928/)

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2575/3769687537_ca3627a227_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769687537/)

On to the next bus, and it was the Saturn gallery. On the way the bus driver was very keen to point out how "green" the entire centre is, how there is only a tiny fraction of the land concreted over and the rest is a huge nature reserve. Which is nice.

The Saturn gallery had a mock-up of an actual launch in a room made up from desks and terminals from the original Saturn launches. That was extremely well done, and then you went into a huge area with a real Saturn rocket, various other pieces of equipment, a real piece of moon rock you could touch
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2518/3770487722_d9f68b2c94_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3770487722/)

Then there was a gift shop and the "Moon Rock Cafe". From the sublime to the crass.

By this time the weather had changed pretty badly, the wind had gotten up and the rain was a torrent. I stepped out from the gift shop to take a photograph, and the wind snatched the door away from my hands. The door banged open against the wall, someone inside screamed and loads of lightweight merchandise blew off its shelves and onto the floor. I sheepishly closed the door and helped put things back...

When we eventually left the Saturn gallery, the rain had lightened a bit, but was still pretty heavy
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3438/3769688161_4ff99cb7bc_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/atp/3769688161/)

And we went to the final stage. This was a viewing gallery over the work area where equipment is being assembled for the International Space Station. But it was 6pm on a Sunday, and there was nobody there, so that wasn't terribly exciting!

And then we got the bus back to the main centre, and that was it.

I think it's only when you look at this - something that's far from badly done - that you realise just how well Disney presents their parks. And I know that visitors are more a nuisance than anything else in a working Space research area, but if you're going to have visitors I feel you could do a it a lot better than this.

But I still got a heck of a buzz out of seeing Endeavour on the launch pad!

We drove back via the Crossroads shopping mall, where we bought some odds and ends. We managed to find beer at a reasonable price, and breakfast sugar that wasn't excessively sweetened! While there, however, we also noticed a Fox News camera set up at Crossroads so that it would have a wonderfully clear view of the Disneyworld sign. I suspect they weren't allowed onto Disney property, so were repoting from jsut outside it.

And then we drove back to our hotels, had dinner and went to bed.

08-07-2009, 08:33 AM
We were lucky enough to see a shuttle on the launchpad when we went there on our first Orlando trip. Kennedy isn't somewhere we rush back to but it is nice to do every now and again.

08-07-2009, 09:24 AM
I am always fascinated at KSC, more great pictures :goodvibes

08-07-2009, 11:34 AM
ah, you were there when the fatality occured on the monorail. very sad. shame that disney did not people know. glad you had a good day at kennedy

08-08-2009, 06:13 PM
KSC is in our plans for this trip. Great pics. :)

08-09-2009, 05:51 AM
Great to see a shuttle on the launch pad! :thumbsup2

08-09-2009, 02:45 PM
I'm ashamed to say that, in 20 trips, we've never made it to KSC.

08-10-2009, 02:22 PM
no we have never got there either, its not something my wife and kids want to do.

08-10-2009, 06:04 PM
KSC was not something that I was keen to do. But as DW and DS really fancied this we visited.
I agree about teh food offerings that were very poor but like you was thrilled to see the shuttle on the launchpad. It is an inspiring place :goodvibes

08-15-2009, 10:24 AM
Another great day:goodvibes

08-19-2009, 09:40 AM
I love the KSC. We were lucky enough to actually catch a shuttle launch on one of our trips and that got me hooked on the place.