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.

The ticket stations have been completely redesigned, with two separate stations featuring six ticket windows each. Digital screens within each station’s covered queue provide descriptions of tour options and prices to help guests make informed choices.

Those who wish to bypass the regular ticket lines may purchase directly from one of six self-service ticket kiosks, and guests who have purchased tickets in advance may proceed directly to a dedicated new Will Call station.

A new 2,500-square-foot Voyagers retail shop invites guests to make a last-minute purchase and allows those who wish only to shop to do so without purchasing an admission ticket. The design of the shop depicts the progress of the American space program since the 1950s, including a 18-foot-in-diameter glass light fixture modeled after Mars above the check-out area.

The new outdoor Rocket Garden Café was also designed in the retro style of the 1950s and 1960s as a nod to the early days of space exploration — the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

An all-new menu appeals to global tastes with diverse items such as Conch Fritters, Asian Chicken Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette, Chicken Empanadas or Beef Croquettes with Spicy Tomato Sauce, and Mediterranean Flat Bread Pizza. Even staples such as French Fries take on a more sophisticated air in the Seasoned Fries with Chorizo & Blue Cheese.

As guests enter the park, they may notice two cobbled strips running on either side of the paved walkway. This symbolic pathway is made of authentic “crawler rock”— the very same Tennessee river rock that lines Kennedy Space Center’s crawler way to support the massive weight of NASA’s nearly 3,000-ton crawler-transporter.

The walkway marks the beginning of the “Vapor Trail,” a path named for the plume of steam that follows a rocket upon ascent. The Vapor Trail will be extended in further phases of development to provide visitors with a more deliberate path to guide them through the park’s main attractions.

The next stage of the KSC Visitor Complex’s 10-year Master Plan includes the opening of a $100 million, 90,000-square-foot exhibit to showcase space shuttle Atlantis and celebrate the 30-year space shuttle program as a stepping stone to future space endeavors. The opening is slated for July 2013.

You can check out the new entry plaza first hand with a special deal running now through January 7, 2013, that offers one free child admission with the purchase of an adult admission. The Holidays In Space event also runs through January 1, 2013.

[Photo courtesy of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex]

About Michelle Snow

Michelle is the owner and editor of CitySurfing Orlando. She also owns Zengrrl.com, is a freelance writer specializing in travel and entertainment, and has authored/co-authored four guidebooks on Orlando and Florida. She lives in Orlando near Disney, and hears Magic Kingdom fireworks every night.
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