How to Save Money at the Kennedy Space Center
People come from all over the world to tour the Kennedy Space Center. They climb into shuttle bays, stroll through an exact replica of the international space station, and enjoy the multi-million dollar Shuttle Launch Experience. With two IMAX theaters and a three-stop bus tour, the Kennedy Space Center is impressive indeed. It’s also $38.00 per adult ticket, and $28.00 for children. I’ve been there three times now, and have learned a thing or two about doing it on a budget. Here are my top tips to save money right out of the gate on everything from tickets and souvenirs, to food concessions and pet care.
Reduce Your Daily Overhead
Even if you won’t be back again within a year, you can still save money with an annual pass. How? Have one person in the group go through first and purchase the annual pass for twelve dollars extra. It immediately gives you $4.50 off per ticket for up to six guest passes. For a family of four, that’s a total of $13.00 saved. So you’re a buck-fifty ahead of the game before you even enter the park.
There’s more. This pass also gives you ten percent off any souvenir purchases and a full twenty percent off from food concessions. For a moderately sized family, you can easily save an additional six to twenty bucks on day one alone. Even a party of two will likely save more than the cost of one $12.00 upgrade, provided they are planning on enjoying lunch on site and purchasing a nominal number of souvenirs.
Complimentary pet kennel service
At the Kennedy Space Center, parking is free for both you and your pet. It’s an air conditioned facility, but has only an attendant to let the dogs in and give them back to you with their belongings. You’ll need to provide everything your pet needs for the day such as water, food, and a toy. Since it’s a long tour day, you’ll likely want to go out and get Rover for a tinkle break some time during the day. Still, it’s a free service and one you’d have to pay for otherwise if you’re traveling with a dog.
Second day free
The base-fare entry tickets can be validated on the way out, allowing you complimentary admission for a second day’s visit within a week of your initial entry date. For a family on vacation, this cuts the daily entertainment costs in half. And of course, if you used the annual pass tip above, you’ll get twenty percent off your food bill the second day as well.
This is especially important for those who only have time to visit for one day. Even if you arrive when the gates first open at nine o’clock, that five-thirty closing time will be there before you know it. Using your time efficiently will help you get the greatest value out of your entry tickets. While you don’t want to overbook, it is possible to see quite a bit in one day. Here’s a one-day recommended itinerary for the Kennedy Space Center.
Souvenir Savings Tips
In addition to the ten percent you can save with your annual pass, there are several other bargain options in the souvenir shop.
Hat and tee shirt combo packs
They have these at various tables around the store. Most of the individual tee shirts are twenty dollars, with the ball caps priced just under eighteen bucks. The hat and tee shirt combos are priced at $19.95, coming in at virtually half price. As theme park souvenir prices go, not bad at all. These are a great two-for-one deal that you can break apart later and distribute for individual gifts at holiday time.
On the upstairs level, we saw bargain racks of clearance tee shirts in a variety of sizes, many of them for children. Grandparents shopping for grandchildren back home will likely be able to purchase at least a few items here
Other budget ideas include the ninety-nine cent folding magnetic bookmarks, five dollar mission patches, and three dollar refrigerator magnets.
My favorite bargain?
The fabric shopping bags with a Kennedy Space Center logo on them for $1.49. I’m personally all set with shopping bags, but a friend picked one up and was thrilled. She’s not particularly into bric-a-brac or traditional souvenirs, but needed to replace one of her shopping bags back home. So this totally worked for her style and budget.
What To Bring
There are just too many cool photo opportunities, and you won’t want to miss any of them. Let the children snap a few pics to help document the journey. Your digital memories will last a lifetime, and are free souvenirs. Bonus? Kids dig it.
Day pack or waist pack
Water bottles, sunscreen, maps, and wallets are a bit cumbersome to juggle individually. Have the kids equipped with their own, and make sure each adult has one. They don’t have to big and clunky, but you will want access to a few incidentals. Touring the Kennedy Space Center makes for a long day, and you’ll want to make the most of it by being prepared. Having minor incidentals on hand will also save you major bucks throughout the day.
We each carried a couple of clementines and two-three cracker packs with us last week. Protein bars are also a great way to keep everyone’s mood and energy level stable. Stopping for lighter food purchases throughout the day increases your overall cost and takes away valuable fun time with long lines.
Treating yourself to one main meal that’s also a rest stop is the way to go. Personally, I think the best use of your food dollars is a lunch stop at the Saturn Five exhibit’s café. The tables are in the middle of all the cool hanging rocket do-dads, and it’s a nice half-way point on the bus tour.
This may not be possible for everyone, which is why I provided the suggested day trip itinerary, and pushed the schedule awareness so strongly. If possible however, try to take two days. If you’re traveling with children who are enthusiastic about space and astronomy, this is especially important. It’ll give you much more time for them to explore the exhibits at their own pace without getting frustrated and overwhelmed.
It also allows you more time to structure breaks at the shaded playground area between the museum-style exhibits, and use the two IMAX movies as a once-a-day grounding activity in between such things as the Shuttle Launch Experience ride and climbing in and out of the actual capsules in the on-site rocket garden. These allowances take minimal extra planning on your part, and really set the kiddos up for a successful experience.
Bonus? Two days will give you time to visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame and perhaps splurge on the lunch with an astronaut add-on back over by the main entrance to the space center.
- Picking the Perfect Telescope
- How to Build Your Own Telescope for Less than Fifty Bucks
- What to Pack for a Road Trip with Rover
- Day Trip Itinerary to the Kennedy Space Center
Have you been to the Kennedy Space Center? Got a great logistical or money-saving tip to share? Remember to sound off below.