Kennedy Space Center Opens Angry Birds Space Encounter Attraction March 22, 2013

Kids of all ages will have another reason to visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex starting today (March 22), as the Angry Birds Space Encounter attraction opens.

ksc-angrybirdsBased on the popular video game, the attraction aims to inspire learning about science and technology in a fun way.

The 4,485-sq-ft Angry Birds Space Encounter includes six interactive stations:

  • Create Your Own Angry Bird – Guests create their own Angry Bird and then can print their bird as a keepsake
  • Danger Zone – A mirrored labyrinth challenges guests to find hidden Angry Birds
  • Cold Cuts Tile Puzzle – Guests attempt to solve Angry Birds sliding puzzles, with three levels of difficulties
  • Red Planet Lazer Challenge – Journey to the surface of the Red Planet, where lazer beams create obstacles along a course during a search for the mythical eggs
  • Eggsteroids Slingshot – Compete against other players using mini Angry Birds launched in a slingshot at the Space Pigs
  • Angry Birds Game Zone – Play the actual Angry Birds game against other guests

NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, Ph.D., who previously announced from the International Space Station that NASA and Rovio would partner on the creation of the Angry Birds Space game, was also on hand for the grand opening.

The opening of Angry Birds Space Encounter comes a few months before the Kennedy Space Center will celebrate the grand opening of the new $100 million home of Space Shuttle Atlantis June 29.

Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander’s Club Annual Pass is $63 + tax for adults and $53 + tax for children ages 3-11.

For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Kennedy Space Center to Open Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit on June 29, 2013

ksc-atlantislogoThe Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has announced that it will open the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit on June 29, 2013.

This $100 million project will feature the shuttle as its centerpiece. Atlantis will be suspended off the ground and placed at a 43-degree angle with its payload doors open and its robotic arm extended.

The 90,000-square-foot exhibit will also include 60 interactive stations detailing the history of the space shuttle program.

“Although the multimillion-dollar interactive exhibit encompasses much, much more than the display of Atlantis, there is no denying, she is truly the star of the show,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.  “We know that this majestic beauty, which safely ferried men and women to space and back on 33 successful missions, is the real reason that our guests will travel thousands of miles, across oceans and across continents to visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to see her in all her glory. There are no words to accurately describe the emotions and insights guests will gain when this attraction opens this summer, for there has truly never been anything like it before.”

Atlantis was rolled to its new home in a ceremony we covered last November. It has been covered in shrink wrap since then to protect it from construction dust and debris, and will be unwrapped in May, prior to the exhibit opening.

For more information on the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, go to kennedyspacecenter.com.

Kennedy Space Center Offers Florida Resident $99 Four-Pack Deal

ksc-4packtixFor a limited time, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is bringing back a great deal on admissions for Florida residents.

From now until March 24, 2013, guests can use a coupon available online (kennedyspacecenter.com/four-pack.aspx) to receive admission for four people on the same day for only $99. Normal ticket price is $50 per adult, so it’s basically like getting two people in free.

You must print out the coupon and present it at the ticket plaza at the KSC Visitor Complex with your proof of Florida residency to get this deal.

For more information, visit: kennedyspacecenter.com.

Florida Strawberry Festival Returns to Plant City February 28 Through March 10, 2013

Yes, the annual Florida Strawberry Festival is known for its food – especially, as you would imagine, its strawberry dishes – but it’s also known for its nightly headlining entertainment.

This year, the festival runs February 28 through March 10, 2013. Most nights there are two separate concerts, but on a few nights, there are three. The headliners are mostly country, but there are some classic rock and gospel thrown into the mix.

flstrawberryfestHere is a rundown of who is playing this year:

  • February 28 – Foreigner ($25); Chubby Checker ($15/$20); Jimmy Sturr (Free)
  • March 01 – Casting Crowns ($20/$25); Gene Watson ($15/$20)
  • March 02 – Justin Moore ($15/$20); Gloriana ($15/$20); Caroline Kole (Free)
  • March 03 – Alan Jackson ($45); Randy Houser ($15/$20)
  • March 04 – Dwight Yoakam ($20/$25); Lorrie Morgan with Pam Tillis ($15/$20)
  • March 05 – Martina McBride ($30); Bobby Vinton ($15/$20)
  • March 06 – Trace Adkins ($30); Neil McCoy ($15/$20)
  • March 07 – Brantley Gilbert ($35); Mel Tillis ($15/$20); Steve Hall & The Shotgun Red Show (Free)
  • March 08 – Scotty McCreery ($25/$30); T.G. Sheppard with Janie Fricke ($15/$20)
  • March 09 – Bret Michaels ($25/$30); Gaither Vocal Band ($20/$25)
  • March 10 – Blake Shelton with Michaela Paige ($55); Hunter Hayes ($15/$20)

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Ringling Bros Fail to Amaze in Tampa Opening of Tour

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[Editor’s note: This review is from the Tampa opening date – January 2, 2013 – of the entire tour, which was attended by our family blogger Carol, with her family. You can read a review of the Orlando show here.]

I grew up in Baraboo, WI, the original home to the Ringling Brothers Circus.  My family knew a couple of the siblings.  So when a show comes out with the Ringling name on it, my expectations are high.

We were blessed to be given tickets to the opening show of this current production, Built to Amaze!, over in Tampa, FL.  When the doors open for the show, there is a preshow on the arena floor that is interesting and fun usually, without it costing any additional money. This year, however, they decided to add a bounce house for $6 additional for 2 runs through it. It was big and looked like a ton of fun! And of course, I was persuaded by 2 little people to spend the money so they could go bounce off some energy before the show.  The kids liked it, but $12 on top of ticket prices is just ridiculously high priced for only 2 trips through the maze. Otherwise, the lines are long as more and more people make their way into the arena for the show. This really limits what you can do and we just gave up and headed for our seats.

I missed the first couple minutes of the show getting food, but it seemed as it was just a little segment for the people already in their seats, while still giving time for the rest of us to get back in to our seats.  The Ring Master is introduced with great hype and the show begins.

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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Unveils New $16 Million Entry Plaza

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Yesterday (December 27), the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex unveiled the first phase of a 10-year Master Plan to enhance the guest experience, when it opened a new $16 million entry.

The new entry includes:

  • a grand plaza and fountain
  • ticket stations and self-service kiosks
  • will call, guest services and information stations
  • a retail shop
  • a restaurant

The new entrance draws guests from the parking lot into a grand entry plaza where they are greeted by a first-ever 3D representation of the NASA insignia that spans 13 feet in diameter.

To the right of the globe stands a 75-foot-long fountain that pays homage to the dreams of late President John F. Kennedy, for whom NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is named.

Kennedy’s face, along with a quote from his famous 1962 “moon speech” at Rice University, are laser etched onto a skyward-reaching arch of blue granite that stands 30-feet at its highest point. The inscription reads, “For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond…”

The 5,000-gallon fountain is lit in the evenings with LED lights and features 26 jets of water that can be programmed to create light shows for guests as they exit the park or during evening special events or exhibitions.

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Get One Free Child Admission with Paid Adult at Kennedy Space Center through January 7, 2013

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is offering a special discount for guests who visit during this holiday season.

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Purchase one adult admission at $50 + tax, and get one child admission free (a $40 savings).

This special runs through January 7, 2013, and is only available when purchasing admission at the front gate ticket plaza. The offer is not available for advance purchase.

Admission includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour, featuring an actual Saturn V moon rocket, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and all exhibits. Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia opens daily at noon and closing times vary by season.

It also includes KSC’s second annual “Holidays in Space,” which runs through January 1, 2013. This includes holiday decorations and the opportunity to learn about the holiday traditions of each of the International Space Station partner countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit KennedySpaceCenter.com.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to Open on Christmas Day For First Time

Once of Central Florida’s most popular attractions, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be open to guests on Christmas Day, for the first time in its 45 year history.

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Guests can enjoy KSC’s second annual “Holidays in Space,” which runs through January 1, 2013. This includes holiday decorations and the opportunity to learn about the holiday traditions of each of the International Space Station partner countries: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.

All of this in addition to the regular tours of the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), Launch Control Center (LCC), and Launch Pad.

Admission includes the Kennedy Space Center Tour, featuring an actual Saturn V moon rocket, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted and all exhibits. Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia opens daily at noon and closing times vary by season.

Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Commander’s Club Annual Pass is $63 + tax for adults and $53 + tax for children ages 3-11.

For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit KennedySpaceCenter.com.

A Melancholy Celebration as Space Shuttle Atlantis is Moved to Her Final Home

On Friday, November 2, 2012, the Kennedy Space Center launch facilities were left without an orbiter in the program for the first time since 1979.

At 6:30am, Atlantis began her 9.8 mile journey from the KSC Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to her new permanent home at the KSC Visitors Center just outside the secure KSC launch facilities. As she rolled out of the VAB for her last mission, she was greeted by members of the team that had cared for Atlantis over the years since being put into commission in April 1985.

There was a palpable sadness in the air — from the Atlantis team that had put so much of their lives into the orbiter; to the press corps that have covered the shuttle missions over the years; as well as the KSC and USA staff involved in so many launches and landings of the beautiful spacecraft.

One Atlantis team member recited this fitting saying, often attributed to Dr. Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over – smile because it happened.” It set the mood perfectly in the chilly predawn morning as they watched Atlantis leaving her working facilities for the final time. The workers, some who have already lost their jobs as shuttle operations ended, carried a banner that read “We Made History – Atlantis” as they walked behind the orbiter.

Atlantis team members say goodbye as she is rolled from the VAB for the last time

Atlantis, the last shuttle to fly in space, rode atop 76 wheels on the Orbiter Transporter System (OTS) for her final journey, with a top speed of only 2 miles per hour. The orbiter weight was 154,000 lbs., and with the transporter, the combined vehicles weighed well over 300,000 lbs. as they made their way on the roads from the VAB to the Visitors Center. In order to avoid having obstacles in the way of her move, 120 light poles, 23 traffic signals, and 56 traffic signs had to be removed to ensure a clear path during transport.

As Atlantis travels Kennedy Parkway, traffic lights and road signs had to be removed from her path

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A Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Future Home of Space Shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Visitor Center

CitySurfing Orlando was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the new construction at the Kennedy Visitor Center that will house space shuttle Atlantis which was moved on November 2, 2012.

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Although not a lot of specifics are being released to the public yet, we can report that the project is budgeted at around $100 million.

The new building will be about 90,000 square feet of space to show off not only Atlantis, but hardware associated with the launch pad (remember the “beanie cap” that was raised from the external tank right before launch? They’ve got the actual one from Pad 39B on exhibit!) and models of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as lots of hands-on interactive exhibits.

Our hardhat tour was led by Tim Macy, Director of Project Development & Construction for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Mr. Macy has a very impressive background in working with public displays, including developing and planning of Olympic facilities in Atlanta and Sydney, and managing Navy Pier in Chicago.

He has been involved with preparing the Atlantis facility for over 2 years, and is excited to have Atlantis finally arrive at her permanent home. He told of the exceptional care that is being taken to ensure that Atlantis will be maintained as a national treasure for future generations, including special LED lighting that won’t harm the orbiter with ultraviolet or infrared rays.

Visitors will enter the building by walking between a mock-up of 2 solid rocket boosters, under an attached external tank, and then through various exhibits in a switchback configuration, taking them higher in the building. After turning a corner they will suddenly come face-to-face with Atlantis, poised as though in space flight, with her bay doors open.

There will be handheld units that allow a virtual view under the skin of the orbiter, with an almost x-ray vision. From there, guests can walk around, even underneath the Atlantis, and enjoy all of the other exhibits and displays that tell the story of the 30 year Shuttle program, as well as giving a view of what we can expect in future space exploration.

There are lots of other exciting surprises that will await those that visit the exhibit when it opens in July of 2013.

Be sure to check out our coverage of the final move of Atlantis. We’ll have pictures and coverage from the time Atlantis leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building, until she arrives at the Visitor Center after a 10 mile journey.

Here are some photos from the tour of the future home of Atlantis:

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Space Shuttle Atlantis to Make Final Journey at Kennedy Space Center on November 2

Fans of the Space Shuttle Program will have their last opportunity to see Atlantis on the move when it makes its historic final journey on November 2, 2012, at Kennedy Space Center.

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During this trip, Atlantis will travel nearly 10 miles from Kennedy Space Center to its new home at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

The move will begin at 7am when Atlantis leaves Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at about 2 miles per hour on the 106-foot-long Orbiter Transporter System. The orbiter will make its way to Kennedy Space Center headquarters where at about 9:45am thousands of current NASA employees and former shuttle workers are scheduled to attend a private event that will include a ceremony to mark the transfer of Atlantis to the visitor complex.

Atlantis will then head to Space Florida’s Exploration Park, a 65-acre area that will provide a festival setting for a half-day event where guests can see the shuttle up close. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana and the space shuttle astronauts from STS-135, the final shuttle and Atlantis mission, are also expected to attend.

Exploration Park will also feature spaceflight and exploration exhibits provided by several space industry partners and NASA, including the Orion Crew Module.

The Exploration Park portion of the day is open to those purchasing the special Explorer Package, which includes regular Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex admission.

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“The final trip of Atlantis will be the very last time anyone is going to see a space shuttle in motion or out in the open, making it a truly unique and momentous viewing opportunity,” said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, which operates the visitor complex for NASA.

Atlantis will then leave Exploration Park and complete the final leg of its journey, traveling in front of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex along State Road 405/NASA Parkway before entering its new home, a $100 million interactive exhibit complex currently under construction and set to open in July 2013.

In order to make the trip happen, NASA and Delaware North had to remove and replace 120 light poles, 23 traffic signals, 56 traffic signs and one high-voltage power line to make way for the orbiter.

After the approximate 6pm arrival, a 10-minute fireworks show will illuminate the skies of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, providing the grand finale to an extraordinary day.

Explorer Package and regular visitor complex admission holders, through the Rollover Package, can witness the last part of Atlantis’s journey as it enters the visitor complex.

Below are details of the two ticket packages being offered for Nov. 2:

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Bok Tower Gardens to Offer Free Admission for Boktoberfest on October 20

If you love plants, whether you’re a gardener or just an admirer, you’ll want to attend Boktoberfest at the Bok Tower Gardens.

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This event offers plants for sale, and in this fourth year, has grown into a celebration that will feature a Biergarten with live entertainment, German food, craft and seasonal beers, face painting, silent auction and more.

“Boktoberfest celebrates the start of Florida’s gardening season,” explains David Price, president of the Gardens. “Plant lovers and gardeners will find a wide variety of Florida plants and learn from experts how to make the most of their gardens.”

More than 40 vendors will offer plants for sale including orchids, palms, olive trees, tropical fruits, Florida natives, and more.

Live entertainment on Saturday will be provided by Jimmy and Eckhard German Oktoberfest Show, as well as jazz guitarist David Smith, and The Porchdogs. There will also be half-hour concerts performed on the 60 bell Singing Tower carillon at 1pm and 3pm.

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See Space Shuttle Endeavour One Last Time at Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has put together some special viewing events for the space shuttle Endeavour before it heads for its future home in California.

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On September 14 and 15, KSC will have a bus tour that includes a drive-by of Endeavour and the specially designed Boeing 747 that will carry it cross-country, as well as Launch Pad 39-A and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Cost is $20 for those over 12 and $14 ages 3-11, in addition to regular admission.

Then, on September 17, visitors will be able to view the beginning of Endeavour’s trip to its new home. Guests can watch as it crosses above the KSC complex’s Rocket Garden. This is included with regular admission. However, for an additional $40, you can view the take-off from the limited seating area at the Shuttle Landing facility.

Until then, Endeavour is currently in the KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building, and guests that take the special tour of that building will be able to get up close to the shuttle.

Next year, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will open a specially built area that will house the space shuttle Atlantis, the only one to remain in Florida.

Regular admission to KSC is $50 over 12 and $40 ages 3-11. During the month of September, you can save $5 if you purchase in advance online.

For more info or to purchase tickets, go to kennedyspacecenter.com or call 877-313-2610.

[Photo courtesy of NASA]

Zoom Air Opens Treetop Adventure Park in Daytona Beach

Last Saturday (July 14), a new attraction opened in Daytona Beach.

A company called Zoom Air has opened a “treetop adventure park” in Tuscawilla Park. Though Tropical Storm Debby caused some delays in construction, the company plans to have two-thirds of the course available, with the remainder completed by early August.

Once the entire course is completed, visitors at least 54″ tall will enjoy 52 games up in the trees, including 12 zip lines. The course is designed to graduate in height and challenge. The longest zip line will be around 500 feet, and the highest point on the course at around 55 feet.

Tuscawilla Park is located at Nova Road and International Speedway.

Zoom Air already operates another location at the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford.

Zoom Air Daytona Beach has special opening pricing through September 30, 2012. Rates start at $20.95. They also have package pricing for families and annual passes good for one or both Central Florida locations. For more information, visit zoomair.us.

Megabus Opens Up Atlanta Hub with Service to Orlando

Earlier this month, we did a story on the new Greyhound Express routes to Orlando. Well it seems they’re not the only company bringing cheap bus fares to Orlando.

Megabus has opened up an Atlanta hub and is now offering a few Florida routes, including Orlando.

Fares start at $1 per connection and sometimes they run specials where a code word will get you a free ticket. As the bus fills up, the fare goes up, so it’s best to book early and if you’re flexible in your travel dates, check the days before and after for lower fares.

They also tack on a 50 cent per order transaction fee, but you can’t complain when it’s possible to go round-trip to Atlanta from Orlando for less than $5 if you time it right.

Besides low fares, there are other reasons to check out traveling with Megabus, including free wifi and power outlets in each seat. They also have dozens of stops in the Northeast and Midwest. In fact, if you’re creative enough, you could even do a circle tour of states east of the Mississippi.

I’ve actually ridden with Megabus and I really liked them. For more information or to price routes, visit Megabus.com.

...|: Megabus route system
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