Orlando Science Center
A fun and educational experience awaits you at the Orlando Science Center, conveniently located near downtown Orlando in Loch Haven Park. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to inspiring lifelong science learning. It aims to make a lasting impact on STEM education and develop the next generation of innovators. And for over 65 years, the Orlando Science Center has been a key family attraction for both locals and tourists alike. Designed to make learning fun, it features hands-on exhibits, theaters, workshops, and experiences. Orlando Science Center is one of my children’s favorite things to do close to Orlando, FL.
There is a covered parking garage with a walk-over bridge to the main level and ticketing lobby, perfect for staying out of the rain or heat. Though children of all ages can enjoy the science center, children 12 years old and younger are the ideal ages to attend. Children will immediately be captivated by the KidsTown exhibit, which features seven interactive zones geared toward children ages 0-7. The first zone is the Orange Grove, where little ones learn how oranges travel from the tree to market, to table all through hands-on play. There is an enclosed toddler area in the Orange Grove, where little ones can play while their siblings explore the “grove.”
You can then proceed to Isaacs Family ClimbTime, a multi-story play structure for gross-motor development. The ClimbTime program is suitable for children age 4-7. From there, KidsTown branches out into several play areas, including Drip Drop Splash which is a water play zone where budding scientists can explore the water with toy boats, pipes, fountains, and more. Waterproof aprons are available to keep clothing dry, and there are baby seats directly on the water table, so even the smallest tots can splash and play. Directly across from Drip Drop Splash is ToddlerTown, an area designated specifically for ages 0-2, with soft play elements for tots to explore and navigate.
The Explore It zone is another favorite of children, where they can experience cause and effect through a variety of interactive materials and activities. KidsTown also houses a play theater and studio that promote creative activities. Venture past KidsTown on the main level and discover a temporary, themed exhibit like Bionic Me, which explores ever-evolving technology focused on improving lives. Kinetic Zone is another attraction on the main level, where guests can lift themselves using a pulley system, launch air rockets, and build coasters using pipes.
Travel up to the next level and guests, ages 8 and up, can experiment, design, and build in The Hive: A Makerspace. The space provides real tools and materials, as well as mentors, to assist children in creating projects like sewing buttons, soldering circuit boards, and using 3D modeling software. Children ages 8-12 must be accompanied by an adult. The top level houses two popular exhibits which are the DinoDigs and Our Planet. In DinoDigs, little paleontologists will love using shovels and brushes to dig for fossils, with two separate dig pits. Explore giant fossil replicas of a variety of dinosaur species, as well as authentic fossils of ancient reptiles and mammals. Outside in the hallway, don’t miss the “Poozeum,” a collection of fossilized poo. On the other hand, Our Planet allows guests to explore earth sciences through fun experiences. Deliver a Central Florida weather forecast via a green screen and teleprompter on a replica TV set, brave both an earthquake and hurricane simulator, and learn about Earth’s atmosphere via a suspended projection globe.
If you have been to Orlando Science Center in the past, you may have checked out the NatureWorks live animal exhibit as well. This exhibit is currently on hold as a brand new Life exhibit is currently under construction. Live animal interactions and hands-on displays will highlight nature and conservation in this new Life exhibit, scheduled to open in late 2023. For those who appreciate the historical significance of the museum, there are numerous educational activities they can participate in. The museum’s exhibits cover science, engineering, paleontology, and biology. There are a planetarium and two theaters, and there’s a special program for school children as well. It’s a great way to learn more about the world around you.
In addition to the great permanent and temporary exhibits, the Orlando Science Center houses a giant screen CineDome as well as a digital theater both offering educational films with showtimes throughout the day. These shows are included with general admission and content changes seasonally, so be sure to check the schedule. A wide variety of live programming is also available daily, including Science Live, Flight Lab, storytime, and more. OSC also offers fun events and activities throughout the year, including Otronicon, Mess Fest, Dinos in Lights, Kids Night at the Museum, and more.
Fun fact, it is one of the first museums to join the National Geographic effort, and it has the largest giant screen in the entire world. The Digital Adventure Theater features award-winning films in digital formats, as well as selected Hollywood movies. Another great feature of the Orlando Science Center is its wine festival, where guests can learn about wine growing, attend a silent auction, and enjoy a formal wine seminar.
When planning a visit to Orlando Science Center, there are a few things to keep in mind. Tickets are required for advanced time entry, and you can purchase them directly on Orlando Science Center’s website. Onsite, there is also a cafeteria with a 4Roots Cafe that features healthy menu items such as salads, sandwiches, and more. Though, guests are also welcome to bring their food to eat in the cafeteria. A coffee spot is also available on the main level.
There are two elevators, as well as stairs to travel between levels. There is a possibility of the elevators becoming crowded during busy times. Therefore, a stroller should be avoided and stairs should be used instead. While parking is located in the garage across the street from OSC though there is a $5 flat-rate fee for the parking garage but free for members. Restrooms are also available on every level of the science center. Baby changing rooms are located on levels 1 and 3, and a private nursing lounge is located on level 3.
The Orlando Science Center offers affordable ticket prices, as well as special memberships for children, families, and adults. An annual membership costs $24, and students, adults, and youths ages two-11 can join for free. For larger groups, a tour guide can be hired or a discounted rate can be arranged. Membership offers discounts for members and special events, and you can purchase gift memberships for friends and family members for 10% off.