This past weekend Big and I had a real, live ALL GIRLS WEEKEND!! The Boys were off on a scout trip, so we decided that instead of staying home we’d head out on an adventure. We considered a trip to the beach, but our last minute planning made that impossible. Camping was an option, as were a few other things. I came up with the BRILLIANT idea of heading to Huntsville to visit the Space and Rocket Center. Big is a HUGE space buff so it seemed like the perfect place.
For her birthday recently Big received the movie Space Warriors and the kids have watched it 2 or 3 times. [I will say, as an aside, that while the tween crew loves the movie it’s so amazingly awful that I can’t stand to be in the same room when it’s playing, LOL!!!] So, the idea of going to the place where it was filmed, and where Space Camp is held, was a pretty huge win.
We drove the long haul over on Friday afternoon, hoping to arrive at our hotel and hit the pool…. Well, booking hotels online isn’t always a win – so we spent an hour once we got there looking for a new hotel. I’m not super picky – but it was creepy! Thankfully my first reservation was refundable! We found a new place, checked in, swam, and headed out for dinner. It is always fun for us to hit a “big city” (yes, Hunstville qualifies for us!) and do some shopping, eat out, and – yes – hit Target! At the hotel we were able to watch some Food Network (no cable at home – so we binge when we can, LOL!). Needless to say we went to bed tired and late.
Big was so THRILLED to head to the Space Center in the morning, so we got up early, ate breakfast, and headed to be there when it opened. That turned out to be a BRILLIANT call because when we were leaving at 1 the lines were much, much longer. So, the Space Center is, in my humble opinion, expensive. It cost nearly $45 for the two of us for one day. Our fee included the museum, a few rides, and one IMAX movie. They had a small military discount, but nothing great. The rides that were included were: a one story rock climbing wall, a Mars simulator ride (not super scary according to Big – no seat belts, even), a g-force simulator, and a shoot in the air type launch simulator. After riding them Big was generally unimpressed and as an observing parent I’d say there were on par with carnival rides. Again, getting there early was huge as Big could ride what she wanted with no line.
We are huge museum people, so we hit all the displays. I enjoyed reading up on Werhner Von Braun and looking at the life of astronauts. Big played a little on their “interactive” Mars display. Without the rides the museum and display parts would take two hours to go through slowly and read everything. With the rides, the IMAX (which was one of our favorite parts – we did the one on Hubble), all the displays, and an enthusiastic tween – we were done by 1:30. That included a little time for a snack and an attempt at shopping. Sadly, Big didn’t like the shirts so we didn’t get anything at the gift shop.
Overall, our weekend was amazing – but the Space Center was a huge disappointment. It just struck me as a huge ad for Space Camp, and it really looked like nothing had been updated in years. Frankly, the kids I saw at Space Camp did NOT impress me (think tweens running wild), nor did their “leadership” (think disinterested college aged chaperones). The idea of “interactive” apparently only means “screen” – and there wasn’t a lot else. Yes, there were a couple of Gemini pods the kids could climb into – but no shuttle they could climb on, only a few displays on astronauts, and just a general disappointment for the cost. Needless to say, I would not make the effort to go there again.
But – our Saturday disappointment did not ruin the weekend! More shopping, more swimming, more adventure! We had an amazing time. I will cherish the time I spent this weekend with Big – the coolest 12 year old in the world!