Laughs, screams, yawns, and a lot of joyful banter was the foundation on the 2017 NASA tour. Almost 2 weeks of a stress free and laidback environment on a tour throughout the coolest places of America. That was what myself and 41 other boys experienced on the 2017 summer break on the NASA Tour.
After waiting 6 hours in the Sydney airport we took off for a grueling 15-hour flight to LA and then another 5-hour flight to Florida. We had travelled to the other side of the world and it was safe to say we were all spent, but my roommates, William and Finlay and I were so excited that we still stayed up till midnight having fun talking and chatting.
The next morning, we got up to an amazing big breakfast, a feature of each of our days, and then we took off to the Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure. After an awesome educational tour of one of the parks most popular rides, the virtual reality Spiderman ride (which took me back to my childhood), we were allowed to freely roam the islands for the rest of the day. Over the islands, there were many very cool rides and attractions, such as the Harry Potter virtual reality ride, the Incredible Hulk ride, Jurassic Park: river adventure and many, many more. It was an incredible experience. That night we had dinner at the famous Hard Rock Cafe where we had some awesome American food.
The next day, we travelled to Kennedy Space Centre where we explored the campus, and later had lunch with accomplished astronaut Jack Lousma who told us a few really interesting stories about his amazing space trips and experiences. I was later surprised to learn that he was a member of the NASA Hall of Fame where his photograph and name is listed along with all the other big NASA astronauts, like Neal Armstrong. We then had the rest of the day to explore the space centre, buy some merchandise, and watch a movie. The Saturn V Rocket, Apollo Mission exhibits and the Atlantis Space Shuttle were truly incredible!
The third day in saw us travelling to Disney Springs, which was pretty much a massive shopping centre with a lot of really cool Disney themed attractions, such as the huge Lego statues of toy story, Star Wars, and massive dragons and lake monsters. After a few hours of exploring, we took the bus to the EPCOT theme park. EPCOT was pretty much a massive theme park, with the theme being science, engineering and technology, and world cultures. If that sounds boring, then you’re mistaken, because the exhibits and rides there were totally amazing! They had a racing ride where you would design an electric racing car, accounting for power, capability, responsiveness and we would then enter the ride. The car would test the 4 aspects, with the last being power where we would travel around the building at 60mph (96 kph)! Another awesome ride was the Astronaut Take-off. This would simulate the speed (G-force) of a real rocket take off by entering an enclosed life like rocket capsule. The capsule would then spin around and we would watch the screens in front of us which simulated what an astronaut would see, and we would also pilot the rocket. Although this one made a few people a bit wheezy, I loved it. That night we watched the amazing fireworks show while I ate some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever eaten. (My highlight meal of the trip)
The next day was a very relaxing day, which was just as well, because we were all pretty tired after such long days before. We went back to Kennedy Space Centre where we went through some Astronaut Training Programs which involved Space Shuttle flight missions and simulations of zero gravity. After that we visited the Valiant Warbirds Air Command Museum. The museum contained many famous fighter jets from WW1, WW2, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars and they even had on display some recent late model jets. We then went on to Cocoa beach where we watched the sunset, paddled in the Atlantic Ocean and kicked a football on the beach and then later enjoyed an big authentic Italian dinner at Brano’s.
On day 7, we visited SeaWorld which also had some really cool rides and attractions. The Killer Whale, Seal and Dolphin shows were truly awesome. My favourite ride was one where you get in your seat and you put on a VR (Virtual Reality) headset. The ride then does massive drops, loops and twirls while the VR makes it seem like you are being chased by Kraken underwater. It was definitely a new experience and not for the faint hearted.
That night we were all so excited as we were headed to the NBA game at Amway Stadium to watch Orlando magic lose to the Portland Trailblazers. As my first time watching an NBA game, I was surprised at how entertaining it was. Even during the breaks and half time, there was always something happening, there was never a dull moment and GGS students got to form an honour guard at half time giving the players high fives and then have their photograph taken on the NBA court after the game. This was a long day to say the least but amazing!
Day 8 was also a pretty laid back, relaxing day. In the morning we visited “gator territory” as we called it at Boggy Creek. After a ride on the powerful and super-fast V8 airboats across the everglades where we found some snakes and “gators”, we had a really cool history of weapons talk given by an indigenous native American Indian. He was really cool and looked the real deal and he talked to us about indigenous life and families before settlement and explained how different weapons were made and evolved over time and gradually improved and became more efficient. He also demonstrated throwing sticks, spears and blow darts and he did an amazing accurate job of demonstrating each of these weapons.
After that we went to the Orlando Premium Outlet Shopping Mall. This was some boys favourite part of the trip, and I can’t blame them. They had some great deals on and cool stuff to buy. Ranging from clothes, shoes, watches and much more. After shopping around a bit for presents for the family, and maybe a cheeky present or two for myself, we left for the airport for our flight back to Los Angeles.
The next day in LA we visited another cool science museum at the California Science Center, where we got to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and after that we set off on our Hollywood bus tour. I have to admit it was pretty cool travelling throughout the famous city and seeing all the colour and vibrance of it for myself. After having some fun exploring about Hollywood and seeing the Famous Star signs cemented in the pavement, we set off for the impressive Griffiths Observatory and then eventually on our way off to LAX airport for our flight back home.
While it was sad to leave, most of us were pretty tired and happy to be on our way back to share our stories, presents and exciting adventures with our family and friends. The flight back wasn’t as bad either, because we were used to it, or maybe it was just because I slept for 10 hours!!
To put it simply, the NASA tour was really spectacularly awesome.
So good that I would do it again if I had the chance!
Year 10 SC
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