Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The world's largest space-themed gift shop is at the Kennedy Space Center, and it's also filled with awesome exhibits

Posted By on Tue, Jul 10, 2018 at 6:00 AM

click image IMAGE VIA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
  • Image via Kennedy Space Center
Over the past few years, Kennedy Space Center has been in the midst of a major overhaul that saw new exhibits and entirely new attractions, but one place that lacked updates was the main gift shop.

Now Kennedy Space Center has finally created a gift shop worthy of such an incredible place. The Space Shop has been the central gift emporium for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center for years now, but a recent six-month-long facelift brings the shop to the forefront of experiential retail. The Space Shop has been a staple of the visitors center for decades, but this is only the second renovation to the massive shop.

With this most recent update, the space-focused, two-story gift shop now clocks in at 15,372 square feet. A large NASA "meatball" logo hangs on the back wall. The flooring is a mix of natural-toned woods with prismatic designs in light gray and blue covering the middle section.

Educational signage covers formerly exposed columns and walls. One of the only notable leftovers from the old design is the sliding glass doors. Kennedy Space Center-exclusive retail offerings are identified with blue tags. Merchandise is more organized, with some of the more recognizable items on display in the middle, visible from each entrance, and a life-size space suit standing in the center of the display.



click image IMAGE VIA KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
  • Image via Kennedy Space Center
Along with more retail offerings, the shop is also an attraction in its own right. Dominating the mostly white space is a roughed-up orange metal bridge connecting two areas of the second floor. The bridge is an actual section of the gantry used for Apollo 11.

“Our new Space Shop is a shopping experience you can’t get anywhere else in the universe,” said Therrin Protze, COO of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “One special feature, the original Apollo-era gantry, allows shoppers to literally walk in the footsteps of NASA astronauts. It’s an interactive shopping destination where our guests can bring a bit of their space experience home.”

Other pieces of the gantry have been used in other exhibits at Kennedy Space Center, but this is the first time guests can get this close and walk on it. The bridge also provides an impressive photo opportunity in the middle of the shop – the updated Space Shop was designed with social media in mind.

Two "selfie stations" allow guests to take photos of themselves as though they were astronauts. Guests can email themselves the pictures and large LED displays throughout the gift shop show off the images. In one corner of the shop, the area where they host meet-and-greets with actual astronauts also got a major upgrade. Large backdrops now flank the walls, and the space has been expanded to allow for easier throughput.

Guests can access the Space Shop via admission to the Visitors Center or via the gift shop’s own website. The gift shop remodel is just the latest in a campus-wide reimagining that also includes a new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and a new Astronaut Training Experience. Both of those attractions are now open.

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