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Attractions that make it easy to slip some education into your next Orlando-area vacation

Attractions that make it easy to slip some education into your next Orlando-area vacation

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As the school year draws to a close, kids all over the country are looking forward to shutting those textbooks for a while and just having some fun. But just because these students are now on vacation doesn't mean that they can't actually continue their education.

The key to successfully pulling this off without your children squawking too much is to liberally mix the educational material in with something truly fun. Like - say, for example - folding a visit to the Kennedy Space Center into your next trip to Central Florida.

Copyright Kennedy Space Center. All rights reserved

Given that the last shuttle launch is tentatively scheduled for July 8th, KSC is a beehive of activity right now. But - to be honest - whatever time you chose to visit this working space launch facility, there's always something exciting (more importantly, educational) to see and do.

From the visitor complex, you can board a bus tour that will take you around Cape Canaveral. You and your family will get to see enormous rockets, historically-significant launch pads and the acres and acres of Florida wildlife preserve that surround the Kennedy Space Center.

Copyright Kennedy Space Center. All rights reserved

Once you return from your bus tour, you can catch an IMAX film which is being shown on one of the visitor complex's two 5-story-tall screens. Here, you can view dramatic footage that was shot by NASA astronauts during recent actual missions in space. Where - thanks to special 3-D effects as well as these theaters' state-of-the-art sound systems - you'll feel as though you yourself were out there, floating in space.

There's so much to see and do at the Kennedy Space Center. Outside in Space Shuttle Plaza, you can wander through a full-sized replica of the NASA Space Shuttle Explorer. Or if you think that your kids would prefer a more hands-on approach when it comes to learning about rocket science, you can always take them back inside the visitor complex to tour the Shuttle Launch Experience. Where your family can get a sense of what NASA astronauts actually go through in those final anxious moments before launch.

Copyright Kennedy Space Center. All rights reserved

There's all this - plus the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame (which will take you all the way from the Mercury 7 days of the early 1960s to what the future holds for space exploration) plus the Rocket Garden (where you can get a sense of the huge amount of firepower that it took to hurl a man out into space. More importantly, the teeny tiny living conditions that these astronauts put up with while they were undertaking these extremely dangerous missions) plus the Apollo Treasures Gallery (where you can view the gear & equipment that the Apollo moonwalkers used while they were out exploring the lunar surface). Which makes the Kennedy Space Center well worth going out of your way for the very next time that you and your family are vacationing in Central Florida.

What's that you say? You're not up for the idea of driving all the way out to Cape Canaveral with your kids but you'd still like to sneak a little education into your next Orlando area vacation? Not to worry. In between driving over to Disney to meet with Mickey Mouse and/or playing with Harry Potter over at Universal, you should set aside an afternoon for exploring one of International Drive's real hidden gems, WonderWorks.

Copyright WonderWorks. All rights reserved

Trust me, folks. You won't be able to miss the building that this amusement park for the mind is located in. WonderWorks prides itself on being Central Florida's only upside down attraction. But once you and your family enter this mixed-up mansion, you'll find over 100 hands-on interactive exhibits that - in a genuinely fun and entertaining way - celebrate various aspects of science. As you wander through this 3-story facility, you'll find exhibits that recreate the physical sensation of what it's like to be caught in a 5.3 earthquake or a 65 MPH hurricane. Or - better yet -- head into the Bubble Room. Where you can literally place yourself inside of an enormous bubble that you create.

And inbetween all of the educational exhibits, you and your kids can blow off some steam by climbing the 3-story indoor rope challenge course, or by playing a game of laser tag or by experiencing the WonderWorks' XD Theater Extreme Motion Ride. As you can see , it's relatively easy to mix education and fun at this particular I-Drive attraction.

Copyright SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. All rights reserved

Of course, the folks who run SeaWorld Orlando are the true masters when it comes to mixing education and entertainment. Sure, there are world-class coasters in this theme park like Manta & Kraken. Not to mention chances for your kids to get up-close and personal with their favorite Sesame Street characters. But let's not forget that - as you wander through this beautifully landscaped 200-acre park - you'll come across all sorts of displays and shows that celebrate sealife. These attractions will give your kids a better understanding and appreciation of the Earth's Oceans and the vast array of creatures that inhabit them.

And - in case you hadn't heard - SeaWorld Orlando has just completed an ambitious expansion of its most interactive, hands-on attraction, Discovery Cove. The Grand Reef - a new 2 ½ acre addition to Discovery Cove - officially opens to the public today. And each day, a handful of lucky SeaWorld Orlando visitors will get the chance to explore this new million gallon lagoon. Where they can learn more about sealife by literally entering their world. Either by snorkeling through canyons that are inspired by reefs found 'round the world or by other deeper swimming adventures.

Copyright SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. All rights reserved

So - as you can see - even without trying too hard, there are lots of ways that you can sneak a little education into your kids' next Central Florida vacation. And if you're looking for tickets to any of the attractions that are mentioned in today's article ... Well, I think I know some folks who can help you out.

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